Meredith’s decision to create two marketing hubs to handle the day-to-day marketing of all its TV stations across the country is underway. “It’s a juggling act,” concedes Danielle Ray, who leads the Phoenix group.
Two teams of experienced and talented local TV news marketers, operating remotely in Phoenix and Nashville, are handling the day-to-day marketing of all Meredith’s TV stations across the country.
Born partly because of staff reductions and the effects of COVID-19, the two Meredith Creative Groups are at full staff and up and running, servicing Meredith’s 17 TV stations across the country, seven of which are in the top 25 markets — including Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis and Portland, Ore. — and 13 in the top 50.
The Meredith Creative Group in Phoenix is led by Danielle Ray and the one in Nashville by Bob St. Charles.
Each group is staffed by writers and editors who respond to the needs of the various Meredith stations, whether the stations requires news images, promos for Targeted Special Reports (TSRs), Proof of Performance spots (POPs) or whatever else comes up.
And the results, St. Charles says, have been “so far, so good.”
With the technology available today, the flow and work process, “lends itself to doing this kind of production work,” St. Charles says. “We have access to everyone’s announcer, we have access to all the networks. With Dropbox and Vimeo, we can just go grab stuff immediately from each station in high definition.”
One of the initial efforts from Danielle Ray’s team in Phoenix was to create a promo for Meredith’s CBS affiliates to run in the Super Bowl, which aired on CBS.
Here’s the version that ran on KCTV in Kansas City.
With a haunting musical score and cinematic visuals, the spot is compelling, certainly unlike any local TV news promos you’ll see. It captures your attention and holds it for every one of its 30 seconds.
The promo was customized for each CBS affiliate in Meredith’s portfolio to air during the Super Bowl in Phoenix, Atlanta, St. Louis, Hartford, Conn., and Bay City, Mich.
The music was custom made by Warner Chappell Music.
“We were thinking about the ’60s and Vietnam,” Ray says.
“Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth was one of our big reference tracks,” she says. “We wanted to get that sound, but in a modern feel.”
Another big push for the Meredith Creative Groups was to create a company-wide graphics package, which launched in December of 2020.
“There is a red-blue version, a blue-gold and a red and white version,” says Gary Brown, Meredith’s SVP of content.
Brown says the station can pick which color version they want. Unifying the graphic look of the Meredith stations streamlines the work of the promo hubs.
And exactly what kind of work is being done by the two teams in Phoenix and Nashville?
In Nashville, Bob St. Charles says his group, mostly Fox and NBC affiliates, requests work that reflects more of the day-to-day.
“We do TSRs,” St. Charles says, referencing the promos supporting the stations’ various Targeted Special Reports. “The winter storm in Nashville. We had serious storms out in Portland with landslides. We have done a lot of POP production both on air and social media covering the storms and thanking the crews that kept everybody safe and all those kinds of spots.”
St. Charles says his team also created a complete morning news campaign for Meredith’s Fox affiliate in Greenville, S.C., WHNS, which was customized by four other markets and is available for all Meredith stations in every market.
The slate of work for Ray’s team in Phoenix is similar.
“We have nine stations in six markets,” Ray says, and her team handled quite a few promos for TSRs during the February sweeps.
“We have also worked on some social and digital projects,” she adds, noting the team has quite a few projects in progress right now. “It’s a whole different beast doing marketing for nine stations.”
How does the process work?
“It’s a juggling act because every station gets priority,” Ray says. “That is how we built our teams. We have the capacity to handle multiple projects at the same time.”
Ray says her team is able to meet the needs of her stations through the sweeps, and outside the ratings periods, they handle requests as they come in.
“We are also really collaborating with the local stations on different projects,” she says, “coming up with different ideas together and working together.”
Ray admits that there can be a lot of moving parts, but the back and forth between the local creative teams, the news directors and general managers works really well.
“It is definitely a collaboration between the stations to make it all successful,” she says.
In Nashville, St. Charles paints a similar picture of communication and cooperation.
“I call the general manager and the news director to say we have this campaign, take a look at it and let me know what you need,” he says. Then his team will customize the branding elements like the graphic color schemes, the station’s talent and the announcer.
“We have those conversations with them and flesh out what is the best on-air and social for them and that is what we put together,” he says.
For the special reports, St. Charles says the stations send whatever footage he needs via Dropbox.
“They send us the script of the story,” he says. “We’ll write a spot, send it back to them for approval and once the script is signed off on, we take all the elements and put it together.”
All involved say the process and the work flow is still in flux.
“We are learning the best ways to work with the local stations and how to make things really successful,” Ray says. “We are still figuring out speed bumps along the way.”
Brown adds, “This is not like there was a playbook.”
Even in the hiring process there was give and take as positions and roles were changed to fit what was needed on the ground in Phoenix and Nashville, Brown notes.
Both creative groups report impressive results in finishing projects. In a busy week, St. Charles says his Nashville team can put out up to 50 projects, but the average is closer to 20.
Ray says her team is finishing about 50 or so projects in a month.
Overall, Brown says that even though they didn’t have a lot of time to set the creative groups up, “we turned it around pretty quickly and I am very pleased with the results thus far.”
WPBF 25 News, the Hearst Television ABC affiliate in the West Palm Beach market, is looking for a strong, well-rounded Digital Producer who will create content for its website, mobile products and social media platforms. The successful candidate will be an excellent storyteller, have strong news judgment and be a multi-tasker who can edit and create content facing intense competition under constant deadline pressure. Click here for more specifics and how to apply.