One of the great advantages of broadcast media over any other form is that it’s live 24 hours a day.
But is that not also an inherent disadvantage?
To be live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year means that you must create content for the sake of creating content.
It doesn’t matter if you look at it in terms of having to fill an entire broadcast day, or simply an hour or less. However you break the time period down, it must, both as a matter of retaining viewers and listeners, and as a matter of federal law (the FCC prohibits long periods of dead air) have some form of content on the air.
This means a broadcast entity can never simply put out only its best content and call it a day. It must fill that time. The end result is that at any given moment, your best content is not likely to be on the air. Almost paradoxically with some news organizations, there is some great content that would help add context to a story that gets left out due to time constraints. Whether you have 23 hours of content, or 25 hours, you have to put it out there in 24.
With so much time and effort being put forth to actually produce content, many local broadcasters today are failing to get their best content in front of audiences where more can see it, while also failing to take advantage of the one remaining competitive edge that they have on all other media, the live platform.
If I were a station program director or news director today, I would have two new goals I would be striving for with my station:
- Creating sharable and lasting moments
- Taking better advantage of the fact that my station is live right now
Creating Sharable Moments
The name of the game in media today is to create moments that are either sharable or can be interacted with through comments and / or likes. That means creating pieces of content that are unique, entertaining or informative enough to be worth consuming outside of the initial live broadcast moment.
Back in my early radio days, the goal for morning people such as myself was to get good material from the morning show and turn it into a promo to be played back on the station.
That’s all great, but another goal today needs to be to get that great moment onto social media.
Keep in mind that what makes good local television and radio content isn’t necessarily what makes good social media and web content. So often you’ll see television stations repost content that includes anchors handing off stories to reporters (a necessity on TV that isn’t needed on the web) and then reporters doing long set-ups to the stories (another necessity on TV that can be handled with text online) before they actually get to the meat of the video. Radio stations also have a tendency to want to post things as they happened on air, not how they would be best consumed on the web.
These sharable moments can be great for building your brand, introducing you to new viewers and listeners, and even increasing revenue.
Taking Advantage of Live Programming
Quick, name a reason for me to consume your local station that I can’t get from the Internet.
- Local news? The paper already broke it on their website or your competitor already gave me everything I needed in a single Facebook post.
- Weather? I have the Weather.com app on my phone. The forecast is completely local and includes live radar.
- Sports scores? My favorite team (go Cards!) already posted on Facebook that they won. I checked every other score I was interested in via my ESPN app.
- Music? Between my Spotify app and the Pandora algorithm, you’re losing.
All of the above used to be great reasons to consume local media. The truth, however, is that there are so many other places to go now for the exact same thing.
So, how can local broadcasters win? By taking advantage of their live nature. No other media has the resources and capabilities to get live content in front of people. Some ideas…
- That big “get” for a TV interview? Get him or her to the station and put them on live.
- Increase your radio remotes. Get your people out to stuff that’s happening in the community, not just out to over-hyped paid remotes that everyone knows is a gimmick anymore.
- Have your TV station have live, top-of-the-hour news updates with live shots from breaking news locations. Why wait for 5pm, 6pm and 10pm.
- Radio stations let your midday, afternoon and night people do live interviews. Make radio relevant outside of morning drive again.
It’s a new world with new opportunities. Local broadcasters have much to gain by both thinking outside of their 24-hour a day formats and embracing them at the same time.
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