4 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Local TV News Reporters

Marketing professionals can learn a lot by studying the communications styles and strategies of popular TV news reporters, those who know what it takes to connect with a demanding audience.

Today – thanks to social media, smartphones and other new digital communications platforms and tools – what the savviest of consumers are asking of their favorite brands is almost as much as they’d expect from their best friends and family. They want your time, support and undivided attention – and they want it at their convenience. It’s not just due to modern technology, though. It’s a bold, new sense of entitlement that’s been enthusiastically adopted by those on the receiving end of your messages.

In this era in which the corporation has ceded control – albeit reluctantly – to the customer, businesses can’t afford to be seen as out of touch, behind the times or just plain unavailable. How do marketing professionals who are both behind the scenes and on the front lines of the brands they represent adapt to, if not embrace, such a monumental paradigm shift?

Here’s one thought. Study the communications styles and strategies of some of the most popular television news reporters in Boston, men and women who seem to always be on the cutting-edge when it comes to connecting with a demanding audience. Here are four lessons you can learn from these folks and act on immediately across all of your marketing channels.

1. Have a flair for the dramatic. Like WHDH 7NEWS reporters Dan Hausle, Ryan Schulteis and Susan Tran and their colleagues do, tell a good story whenever you have the opportunity. Unlike them, however, you don’t have to be covering a bad accident, a huge fire or a serious crime to capture people’s attention. In and of itself, your product or service should be news-worthy enough. Whatever you’re pitching, wherever you’re pitching it, use emotional, descriptive language to get your points across effectively and make your brand stand out in a competitive marketplace.

2. Don’t miss a beat. Take advantage of the fact that breaking news is so hard to ignore. Nonprofit organizations have always done this especially well, either asking for text donations or sending telegram-like direct mail fundraising packages that impart a sense of urgency as soon as possible after natural disasters. But current events don’t have to be related to your business in order for you to share them with your constituency and benefit from the exposure. Leveraging social media, any organization can act like a broadcaster and provide live, real-time news updates that will help call attention to your brand.

3. Put a smiling face on your brand. Long gone are the days when the public will hang on every word said about your company. Even if what you have to offer is the best thing since sliced bread, it just isn’t that simple anymore. There are too many reasons to tune you out. If people aren’t too busy to listen to you, they’re either skeptical or easily distracted – and yes, quick to exercise their many options. That’s why you need to put personality into your promotion and a smiling face on your brand. It’s even good to laugh it up once in while. Watch Gene Lavanchy, Kim Carrigan, Elizabeth Hopkins, Doug VB Goudie, and Cindy Fitzgibbon on the FOX 25 Morning News. They don’t take themselves too seriously. Yet they’re talented, charismatic and extraordinarily good at their craft, perfect role models, if you ask me, for anyone who’s trying to win over an audience.

4. Engage with your audience. For the same reason television news reporters interview bystanders on the scene of a big story, ask viewers to share photos (see the WBZ-TV Weather Watchers, for a good example) and talk to their fans on Twitter, marketers should be mingling with their own constituents. Ask your customers and prospects to post product reviews, eyewitness reports and other forms of consumer-generated media online. It behooves you to receive such direct, honest perspectives from those whose attention you covet. But there’s another, perhaps even more important, reason to interact with the public. Commerce has gone social. People are talking about you (online and off), whether you like it or not. So it pays to inject yourself into those conversations and – ideally – win more friends in the process.

Note: This post was initially published on BostInnovation on July 28, 2011. To read the original post there, click here. "4 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Local TV News Reporters" was also published on A New Marketing Commentator.

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