WTLV and WJXX, Tegna’s NBC and ABC affiliates in Jacksonville, Fla., turned to their viewers’ testimonials in a powerful new promotional campaign.
Local TV news operations around the country use slogans, positioning declarations and branding statements to differentiate their news from others in the market.
“Expect More,” “Coverage You Can On,” “Where The News Comes First” and “On Your Side” are just a few you’ve heard over the years.
But proving that your news operation lives up to your slogan is not always easy.
WTLV and WJXX, Tegna’s NBC and ABC affiliates in Jacksonville, Fla., branded as First Coast News, launched a testimonial campaign that was “more about the On Your Side brand and how we can continue to be better at it,” says GM Tim Thomas. “The words were so powerful, and it was beautifully shot. They are all very well done.”
The fact that the focus of the testimonials was on the brand “On Your Side” is no accident.
“We wanted to show people what On Your Side truly means,” says Natalie Thurlow, First Coast News marketing producer. “We often receive messages from viewers thanking us for telling their stories or helping them in some way.”
And the powerful words Thomas mentioned?
Here are just a few examples of how viewers described what “On Your Side” means to them.
“On Your Side to me is like having a partner.”
“Truly listening, and hearing and advocating.”
“They had my best interests at heart.”
Thurlow says Kristen Joyal, First Coast News marketing director, pitched the idea of the testimonial style promos, “which I loved because it’s so different than our usual scripted talent-fronted image spots.”
To hear from viewers in their own words in local TV news marketing is powerful and convincing, and maybe not utilized enough across the industry.
To do that, one must be in tune with the newsroom to take advantage of those opportunities.
“Kristen has a great working relationship with our news director, Sarah [Bryant-Holcomb],” Thomas says. “The marketing team and the news team work really well not just at the top, but all the way through the newsroom, and that shows in the quality of the promotion.”
“These spots showcase how one call, one email or just one anchor or reporter listening can truly help,” Joyal says.
She says the viewers were people whom the news department had done stories about and “we wanted them to explain how the station was an advocate for them in their time of need. When we sat down with each of them and our three cameras rolled, it was humbling and magical.”
Thurlow says narrowing down the comments from viewers took careful consideration in editing because they had so many “meaningful thoughts about First Coast News. Every word they said was totally genuine, and it even reminded us as marketers that our station really does make a difference in the lives of our viewers.”
The difference each subject experienced was a direct result of the “On Your Side” way of thinking at First Coast News.
For example, one woman who lost her hair and her teeth due to treatment for a rare cancer, wrote to First Coast News needing help for a new smile, Joyal says. “The sales team worked with a dentist client known for giving people great smiles who provided the services for free.”
Another example is the military veteran suffering from PTSD. His story of survivor was the result of a military hotline that helps veterans in need, Joyal says.
Joyal says the subjects in the testimonials all said that they wouldn’t be where they are today without the help of First Coast News.
“This was one way to shine the light on people and hear their voice share why they feel they are forever changed because of one story produced by First Coast News,” Thurlow says. “Quite honestly, they are show-stopping spots.”
In the end, the station produced a powerful set of spots that, Thurlow says, “demonstrate what On Your Side means through our own viewers’ eyes.”
“We love this concept so much that we are thinking about doing another round soon.”
NOTE: The First Coast News testimonial campaign is one of five finalists in the Promax brand image campaign category for stations 25-50. Winners will be announced on Aug. 3.
Kristen Joyal sent me a couple videos that I want to share. The first is a news story about a father and son who had breast cancer. They credit Buddy Check 12, a health franchise about the importance of self-examination and mammograms to detect breast cancer. The second video is the song the father wrote and performed about Buddy Check 12.