In a quirk of fate, I spent different parts of Memorial Day Weekend at separate social events with friends in three different segments of the TV industry; one who is currently a news anchor for a local station, one interviewing for jobs in Interactive sales, and one who is an executive for a technology company that services the TV industry. All 3 of these folks had equally different viewpoints on how the industry needed to evolve to become relevant again.
But by the end of the weekend, a trend developed, and I think at least one station per market could copy this blueprint. And here it is offered for free.
To start this theorem, we need to take everything you know about local TV and throw it away. We need to begin with the general consensus that the old model is broken, irreparable, and needs to be shot.
Now, look at what we have in local TV. Reporters who need content, cameras and studios that can be used to shoot and edit content at breakneck speed, a giant transmitter that can reach hundreds of thousands of people on a set schedule, and an online presence that can distribute unlimited amounts of content to smaller audiences without any inventory constraints.
The current model works like this for companies large and small. They pay a huge fee to a PR person who has “relationships” with producers. The PR team “pitches” the producer. Some small percentage of stories are deemed “worthy” by said producer to grace the air-waves with their presence. The story is shot and edited, runs for 30-90 seconds to an ever shrinking and aging audience. And then it may get a few more impressions on the web site. That’s a lot of money and effort for 30-90 seconds of content.
Look at how backwards this model is. You have companies who want to PROVIDE content for free. They will drive audiences to the stations web site. And there’s a producer standing in the way stopping that content from being generated.
So TV station 2.0 looks like this. Take the PR person out of the process. The Boyer Widget Factory contacts KSEA-TV directly and says, “I have a story I think your audience will find interesting.” I schedule time at KSEA-TV, bring my supporting graphics, and sit down for a 15 min taped chat with a reporter who grills me. The reporter puts the interview up on the web site, along with the other 10 companies she interviewed that day. I use my blog, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts to drive my fans, customers, friends, investors and others to check out the interview, whcih causes traffic to rise. The total base of viewers decide how relevant, appealing and important my story is. The stories generating the most audience response get elevated up to the big transmitter in the sky. Thus, the Internet becomes the place where the station figures out what is worthy to be shown on prime time. Forget the PR flaks, forget the producer as gatekeeper. The station’s audience has a vested interest in watching online, and helps choose which local stories need to be broadcast over the TV waves.
Part two of this involves corporate responsibility and accountability. In interview one, Boyer Widgets made some claims and promises. Well three months later, the reporter is going to sit me down again in the big chair and see how my story is taking shape. Over time, the consumer is going to be able to watch how Boyer Widgets has evolved, and whether we are sticking to our mission on a consistent basis. The reporter has incentive to keep up to date with us, so she can pick us apart for changing our stance or position.
So at the end of the day, we’ve lowered the marketing costs for companies by removing the PR flak, we’ve generated more content for the stations, created a way for more content to be generated inside their big expensive studios, created a larger audience for the stations online, and developed a way for their viewer base to decide what should be on the TV air-waves.
This probably only works for one station per market, and perfect for the guys in last place. KCPQ, are you listening? This idea is free, just let my company be one of the first to be profiled.