One doesn’t normally think of local TV news and its marketing as a source of inspiration. But lately, it’s had its moments.
But lately, it’s had its moments.
And during this coronavirus crisis, if we added up all of those examples of local TV news stories and marketing messages that uplift to bring us all together just a little closer in this time of uncertainty, with apologies to Winston Churchill, I’d say this has been local TV’s finest hours.
The extraordinary work done by local TV stations, using any means necessary, to cover all sides of the coronavirus pandemic, has not gone unnoticed by those in the industry.
Harry Jessell, editor-at-large here at TVNewsCheck, wrote in a column this week that, “Over the past few weeks, thousands from those stations — producers, reporters and photographers — have been on the street, putting their health, if not their lives, on the line to keep their communities up to speed on the pandemic.”
And Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, wrote a column thanking the television and radio broadcasters “for their tireless efforts during the coronavirus outbreak.”
Like Jessell, Pai especially cited “those reporters who are on the front lines, often putting themselves in harm’s way, to obtain vital information on COVID-19 to ensure their viewers and listeners have the most up-to-date and accurate information.”
TV station news staffs have faced challenges themselves. Balancing the need to report the news while away from the newsroom, often sequestered at home, they’ve fashioned mini-studios in their kitchens, living rooms or basements, using their cell phone cameras to connect to viewers via Facetime, Facebook, Skype or Zoom.
And to distribute the rapidly changing events in real-time, in addition to their regularly scheduled newscasts, stations have preempted their normal programming to cover live press conferences and updates by local, county and state officials.
That hyper-local coverage is at the crux of why so many people are turning to local TV now, as some communities are so much more harder hit by the virus than others, and the reactions to contain it is often so different city by city, county by county and state by state.
And in addition to station broadcasts on television, they are distributing the coverage on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to reach people where they are.
Amidst all this coverage, and while viewership is high, stations are seeing advertising revenue plummet.
Some stations have answered that with offers of deeply discounted or free advertising to businesses in the community.
After I wrote a column about profiling some stations doing just that, I got a note from Shawn Wilcox, general manager of KOHD and KBNZ in Bend, Ore., about their efforts to help local advertisers.
Wilcox wrote his stations got 300 requests, “and we’re going to fulfill every damned one of them!”
Wilcox said for those businesses that did not have a spot, the stations created rudimentary ones.
When you combine those positive news stories with the calming messages of togetherness created by local TV marketers that also are seen on TV and social media, the collective weight of all that is helping people weather the uncertainty of what is happening now and reassuring them that this, too, shall pass.
I’ve seen and shared many examples of both in recent columns, and every day, more come directly to me via email, or I see them on station Facebook pages or through LinkedIn.
But I feel compelled to try and share as many of them as I can, from markets large and small, to recognize their efforts.
So added to those I’ve posted throughout this column already, here are some more, many of which thank those in the medical field and the first responders, and encourage viewers to support their local business.