Nearly all of the marketing and advertising that viewers see from TV stations has been crafted by seasoned broadcasters who started out in one station’s marketing department as a writer/producer, then worked their way up to head the department, likely moving from one station to another to another in the process. Few, if any, local […]
Nearly all of the marketing and advertising that viewers see from TV stations has been crafted by seasoned broadcasters who started out in one station’s marketing department as a writer/producer, then worked their way up to head the department, likely moving from one station to another to another in the process.
Few, if any, local TV marketing directors get that job without any broadcast background.
But what if you hired someone who had a deep marketing and advertising background in consumer goods, but was a local TV news novice, and put him in charge of marketing and advertising local news like he would hamburgers or restaurants?
Can local TV news be marketed like beer, cars, insurance, steaks or any other retail consumer product?
Can a successful marketing creative with data analytical skills change media consumption habits?
“More than anyone or anything else, Bob is all about the customer,” said Larry Audas, WFMY’s general manager.
While Kim has a deep marketing background in retail at ad agencies and major corporations, this is his first job in broadcast marketing at the station level.
“I think that’s the reason I’m even here — the non-broadcast guy marketer who’s come to a broadcast place,” said Kim.
“This was our intent,” said Audas.
“Bob brings a lot to the table that we don’t traditionally see,” said Meredith Conte, Tegna’s VP of marketing.
“Larry is a very innovative general manager. WFMY does a lot of experimentation to keep up with audience demands. I think Bob really fits into that type of culture.”
Local TV news promotion has been accused of being a “sea of sameness.” What do Audas, Conte and Tegna expect from Kim that they may not be getting by hiring a more traditional local TV news marketing professional?
“Seeking audiences and being able to specifically identify them and message to them,” said Audas.
“We’re now multimedia, and we want to market in that way. Bob is going to bring a certain expertise to bringing in creating memorable messaging that’s measurable. He brings a whole new level to us for those reasons.”
“What we’re looking for at Tegna are audience-driven marketers,” said Conte, “and that comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It comes in people who are inherently creative, with a unique ability to connect with audiences. It comes in data-driven marketers who are highly analytical. And it also comes in highly creative marketers who know how to put messages together.
“And I think a well-functioning marketing team has a little bit of everything. No single marketer has it all. The job is too big for any one person to have every single skill set that is required.”
Fair enough. Broadcast companies should expect to see a measurable return on their marketing investment with increased broadcast news ratings, increased website users and more engagement on their social media and digital platforms. And perhaps a more analytical, results-oriented, scientific-based marketing strategy combined with a more customer-focused message can break through that sea of sameness.
“He’ll become thoroughly aware of our viewers, our products, our audience, their preferences, what they consume, what they see in our website, social and TV screens, and shape messaging that works for them, and attracts others,” said Audas.
I spoke with Kim just a few weeks after his start at WFMY. I wanted to know what he thought of local TV news marketing from his marketing and advertising point of view prior to his working at WFMY.
“When you see the ads with the anchors at their desk talking about how many years they’ve been in the business,” said Kim, “it tends to blend together.”
“If you are truly doing something different, it has to be true. You have to get through all that clutter, and say it clearly.”
I don’t think many readers would disagree with Kim on that point.
So what’s been the biggest surprise for Kim since he’s been on the ground, in the trenches, a witness to — and now a participant in — the hectic world of a TV station and its newsroom?
“Everybody know that a TV station is a fast-paced, busy environment, but to see the versatility of this team flexing from covering crime to community, to politics, and weather, watching it flow on a day to day basis, seven days a week, round the clock, is amazing to me. It’s like watching a play with a stage manager, a cast, a director, actors and all the production people, moving and flexing from one place to the next, moment by moment, without missing a beat, it’s amazing to watch.”
I tell Kim that many in the business refer to that energy as ‘the juice’, an exciting side-effect of working in local TV that can be addictive. And that if he can come under its spell, perhaps viewers can, too.
Only time will tell if Kim is successful in his role at WFMY. But if he is, if he manages to find the station’s voice and differentiates it from its competition successfully, Audas and Conte will want to add his expertise across the group.
“When I look across our group of nearly 40 marketers, I see great creative, great analysts, great strategists, great social marketers, great producers. We’ve got all this skill set within the collective, and each is strong on their own, but then they can turn to the larger group to help in areas where they may need some development,” said Conte.
“If Bob has some great success, there’s some sharing to be done,” added Audas. “We want to do things that grow the company. I think making a move that brings something different can help go along a way.”
That “something different” Audas refers to could be the antidote to that “sea of sameness” local TV promotion has been accused of giving to viewers over the years.