Consistent branding that resonated with viewers, effective synergy between broadcast and digital and a simple, free marketing tool helped WDIV have a 2020 to remember.
WDIV, Graham Media’s NBC affiliate in Detroit, finished 2020 with the highest-rated newscasts from 4 until 6:30 in the evening and at 11 in adults 25-54, according to the station. In addition, the station’s website, ClickOnDetroit, saw increases of 50% and more in users, page views, sessions and livestream plays over 2019.
“We were very pleased with our metrics in 2020,” says Kim Voet, WDIV’s news director.
Voet says one of the reasons for the station’s success in 2020 was consistent branding and marketing.
“From the get-go, at the beginning of the year, our message was local news has never been more important,” she says. “That was the message we hammered home across the board. That started back when we were about this time last year when we were dealing with coronavirus and nobody really knew anything about it and what it was.”
In a year like 2020, that message really resonated with viewers.
People were suddenly working from home and kids were out of school. Routine and normalcy were replaced by fear and uncertainty. People were hungry for dependable information about their community. And everything was changing so fast, it was hard to keep up with all the information.
Ro Coppola, WDIV’s digital director, says ClickOnDetroit, the station’s website, played a vital role.
“We were going to have every governor’s press conference, every city mayor’s conference live on our air and on our website,” she says. “People knew to turn to us. When those were done they could go right to our website and read in-depth coverage on what was just said to help people sift through all of this information.
“[Viewers] had gotten used to turning to us for that, and it continues now with the vaccine and trying to figure out how to get it, how to get your loved ones taken care of. People are used to now using us as their number one source of information online and on television.”
Coppola says the consistency of live streaming every press conference and sending push alerts were the station’s biggest marketing tools.
“People were desperate for information in March,” Coppola says, “and we knew that and so we had all hands on deck. It didn’t matter that it was a Saturday or a Sunday, we livestreamed everything. People got used to knowing that we would have the information for them. It was the consistency and the seriousness and the commitment that we took to make sure that we could help people as much as we possibly could.”
Voet and Coppola say the station is relentless in reminding viewers about their coverage on air and on the website.
“Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all of that, we have a presence everywhere,” Coppola says. “They were just hungry and craving for news in the beginning of this and we knew it and we took it seriously on air and online and we have not let up one iota.”
Voet says a TV station can’t be number one on air unless it’s number one online.
“We have done a really smart job of intertwining the two media so that they are really reliant upon one another,” she says. “Your broadcast entity has come to adopt a digital entity and vice versa – the digital entity is getting people to adopt the broadcast entity.”
One simple, and free, marketing tool the station used has returned major dividends: Daily newsletters. Users sign up on the station’s website, ClickOnDetroit, to opt in to receive them on any subject, like health, consumer affairs and sports.
“The Morning Report, which is highly read, highly distributed, goes out every single morning, 365 days of the year with fresh content,” Coppola says.
“That tool has been very helpful for us especially online, but it also helps on television,” she says. “It just reminds people Channel 4 is going to have that today. We know we have high open rates for them and that people will actually open and read them. Our newsletters are huge for us.”
Ironically, some of the biggest stories on ClickOnDetroit in 2020 are not COVID related. The plan to kidnap Michigan’s governor, the protests following the George Floyd killing and a popular furniture store going out of business were huge stories, Coppola says.
And the top non-COVID story?
“We had a young lady found alive in a Detroit funeral home after being pronounced dead, and that story has had huge legs in the middle of all of this,” Coppola says. “That was a gigantic story for us.”
Voet says last year the station developed a franchise, The Spirit of Detroit, “to include some really positive stories in our newscast so it wasn’t all tragedy with what was going on in the world.”
Click here to watch an hour long special, The Spirit of Detroit.
Voet says the station is proud and pleased with its metric in 2020 and says 2021 is off to a roaring start.
“We are proud that the viewers recognized how we poured our heart and soul into what we did in 2020,” Voet says. “As one of our veteran reporters said at our editorial meeting this morning, ‘there has never been a better time to be a journalist’.”
Nexstar Broadcasting Group seeks an experienced, driven broadcast professional to serve as Vice President/General Manager of its media properties in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (DMA 99). The successful candidate will have full oversight of CBS affiliate WBTW-TV, along with MyNet, Ion, and Mystery TV sub-channels, as well as all affiliated digital, mobile, and social media assets associated with WBTW.com. WBTW serves eight counties in northeastern South Carolina and two counties in North Carolina. Click here for more specifics and how to apply.