NewsTECHForum | Honoring Outstanding Local Social Media

The winners of TVNewsCheck’s Social Media Excellence Awards demonstrate some of the many ways the still-emerging medium can be used to benefit both viewers and the stations. L-r: TVNewsCheck’s Michael Depp; Social News Desk’s Kim Wilson; ABC Owned Television Stations’ Michael Koenigs; WJLA’s Caroline Patrickis; KABC’s Hanna Maxfield; and KKYV’s Lindsey Grewe and Tony Keith. (Photo: Wendy Moger-Bross)

NEW YORK — As news outlets continue to discover best practices in publishing content, engaging with audiences and even generating fresh revenue streams from social media, standouts have emerged — with data-based results backing them up. Four of the finest in the business were on hand at TVNewsCheck’s annual NewsTECHForum Monday at the New York Hilton in New York, there to pick up their awards for Social Media Excellence in 2019, and share some helpful tips for the industry insiders on hand.

Kicking off the panel discussion, moderator Kim Wilson, founder and president of Social News Desk, thought a good place to start would be to show the audience a recent Facebook post Tony Keith put up on the page dedicated to the newsroom where he’s employed: the Gray Television-owned CBS affiliate KKTV in Colorado Springs.

Keith revealed a photo of a historic steam engine rumbling through the area taken by a station viewer. In the foreground: a father and son watch the old-timey train roll past, the boy pointing in amazement.

In the post, Keith asked Facebook followers if they could find out father and son’s identities, so that the photographer might be able to give them a copy of the warm, brilliant image. According to Keith, hundreds shared the photo on Facebook, and KKTV was able to connect the father and son to the photographer. Keith then told the story of the photo and the positive outcome from the social media engagement spurred by it in a brief on-air segment.

Wilson called the approach, “Just a really creative way to leverage your broadcast audience to push traffic back to your social audience and your social audience back to your broadcast audience.”

Keith, who led the KKTV charge toward the Social Media Excellence Award for Small-Medium Markets, said he just instructed his audience on Facebook to “share if you care.”


“I just like to keep it simple, I’m not some master creator like some of these other folks up here,” Keith said.

Tapping in to the warmer side of an audience’s heart has also brought Caroline Patrickis some success — to the tune of 50 million-plus views for more than one of the short videos she produces for social media on behalf of Sinclair-owned WJLA Washington. In one of those posts from February, the Social Media Excellence Award Winner in the Media Talent category told a moving story about a high-end Pakistani restaurant owner who dishes out free meals to local homeless people.

When asked by Wilson how she chooses which stories to pursue and post, Patrickis said she just goes with her gut instincts. “If it touches me, I know it’s going to touch others.”

Getting personal is also how the ABC Owned Stations group was able to connect with vast audiences through digital content in 2019. The Innovator Award winner was fueled by its production of Localish, a digital-first collective of documentary shorts about people engaging in their communities. Aimed at millennials, the pieces cover the good in society and focus on everything from food to lifestyle to innovation and beyond.

After viewing a Localish episode about a homey Texas barbecue hotspot, Executive Producer Michael Koenigs said such content is successful because viewers of the series “hear the voices of the locals.”

“In news [segments] you have a sound bite, and you get one sentence from the person instead of hearing the narrative with their accent, their personality, them at the forefront,” Koenigs said. “As you can see with this and all our pieces really, it’s the locals who drive the conversation, and the authenticity is unmistakable because you just fall in love with these people.”

The piece about the restaurant shown during the panel had been posted two weeks earlier. According to Koenigs, it had already garnered 2.4 million views.

“It’s finding these characters who you want to eat with, want to hang out with,” Koenigs said.

If you’re part of a culture with specific needs separate from other groups in a larger community, you might be most willing to learn from someone within that culture, too. Keeping that in mind is part of why KABC Los Angeles, the Social Media Excellence Award winner in the Large Market category, has been able to connect so well with the vast Hispanic population in its market.

During the panel discussion, Hanna Maxfield, the station’s director of digital operations, said her team has had great success on Facebook with targeted posts.

“Facebook targeting is so cool because it will only serve your content to the people you select, whether it’s by geography or by language,” Maxfield said.

Because of the increased intricateness of the platform’s targeting capabilities, KABC is able to produce segments entirely in Spanish and it’s sure audience members who speak the language will see them.

As the recent wildfires burned across the area, the station posted a video with a Spanish-speaking reporter about what people should do if they have to evacuate their homes.

“We wanted something highly shareable for our Spanish-speaking audience,” Maxfield said of the clip.

The result was a brief instructional video produced by a bilingual reporter that Maxfield said took only about two hours to finish and reached a large number of Hispanic followers, illustrating the social savoir faire that helped earn its award.

Watch the full video of the session here.

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply