TV stations across the country may be looking at their morning news ratings and wondering where the viewers went. WOOD Grand Rapids, Mich., did and came up with a campaign that tied its morning news into NBC’s Today.
TV stations across the country may be looking at their morning news ratings and wondering where the viewers went.
WOOD, Nexstar’s NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., did a deep dive into its morning news viewers’ habits and found a disturbing trend.
“People just weren’t getting up in the mornings,” said Julie Brinks, WOOD’s general manager. “People weren’t having to get up in the morning to get kids off to school.”
The station was looking to widen the gap between its Daybreak morning news (and NBC’s Today) over its competitors in the fall. But realized it had to pivot its strategy.
“We did a solid morning news campaign about a year and a half ago,” said Brinks, “and we were going to continue that in 2020. We had gained a bit in our morning news in 2019 off of those marketing efforts.”
Unfortunately, the pandemic struck. And the station’s plans changed.
“You just look at the national trends during the pandemic and morning audiences shifted dramatically.”
People are working from home and kids are not in school, said Brinks, so “you just had a real shift of audiences from that early morning timeframe to midday and early evening newscasts.”
So how long before people get back to their normal morning routine?
“We did a really deep dive on the numbers and the viewing trends since the start of the pandemic and really took those insights into consideration as we saw people starting to shift back to partially normalized morning routines, but they are certainly not fully there yet.”
Brinks said they did notice that Today was holding its audience during the pandemic and thought there might be an opportunity there.
“It was a good insight for us to say look, here is an opportunity to maybe put a stronger connection between the programs.”
Brinks credits Carly Munoz, WOOD’s creative services director, and her team for “creating a campaign both in terms of creative messaging as well as just the strategic approach for outside media. They really did the creative on this to create relatability between our talent, tie into that morning-need-to-know-information that we have for them.”
But like many local TV news operations acros the country, it’s often difficult to market your morning news team be relatable and approachable when you have a hard news brand.
“It can be a balancing act between maintaining that hard news act that we are, but also having relatable personalities in the morning and creating a marketing message that balances both of those teams,” Munoz said.
“And so our approach to it was really creating the position that we are a valuable resource as individuals prepare for the day, whatever that looks like. I think they did a great job with that balance.”
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