It Sounds Like Common Sense But It's Not Common Practice
July 17, 2012
If you're watching "The Newsroom" on HBO, you're being treated to an inside view at a TV network news operations, time pressures and all. Last Sunday, the big drama focused back to the reporting snafus that occurred when Gabrielle Giffords was shot at a campaign appearance in January, 2011. If you recall, a number of big news outlets announced that Giffords was killed that afternoon, thus touching off the controversy over being first versus being right.
Fast-forward to today, and according to Gallup, American's confidence in television news is at an all-time low. And because their findings were conducted June 7-10, weeks before the CNN and Fox News blunder over the constitutionality of the U.S. health care law, Gallup warns confidence could plummet further.
This wasn't the first time news outlets jumped to the wrong conclusion, and wrongly reported information.
But in the past year or so, whether it's been from the "mother ship," websites or social assets, we seem to be witnessing the results of news staffers working too fast trying to "get there first" and hurting themselves in the process.
(This really aired on Fox News with Megyn Kelly, December 2011.)
Prior to contrary belief (and behavior), speed ("being first") is not of the essence in today's open and connected world. People have too many information tools at their disposal. And in actuality, their personal connections are probably becoming a primary source of "news breakers."
When you think about it, everybody's airwaves, social "News Feeds," or even the texts/emails we receive are filled with the same headlines when it comes to so-called breaking news.
So rushing just to say the same thing your competition said (or will say) is a dated tactic.
Today's approach lies within the emotional triggers your headline can offer. That is, moving fast to tell them something they didn't already know about the story or event that people are talking about.
For example - I use this a lot when I speak – (and it's older news so forgive me) but it drives the point home.
When Amy Winehouse passed away, everybody "Facebooked," Tweeted, sent texts and emails, and went on the air and said the same thing: "Amy Winehouse is dead."
But the real opportunity to have stood out in that moment would have been to say something like, "Sadly, another great artist has joined the "27 club."
(The 27 Club refers to all of the musicians who died at the age of 27 - often as a result of self-destructive lifestyles - such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and more.)
You're telling people something they didn't already know, triggering a reaction to listen longer, or to click the link from a social post for more information.
When TV news outlets squander their credibility in the name of "breaking news first," it offers radio a chance to deepen the connection between fans in these fast-moving situations.
Find ways to know where to go and grab information that people haven't already seen or heard. Think how the breaking news story affects them and connects to your brand and their lives. Then tap into those emotions.
When radio stations socially post the same headline that everyone else does, links that post out to some source other than their own website, and walks away from the story, it contradicts the "buddy" nature that exists between fans and personalities.
Remember in Jacobs Media Techsurvey8 that over 57,000 radio fans said that personalities is one of the highest ranking benefits of listening to AM/FM radio because they help "provide a feeling of companionship."
That right there should be enough to remind you they are counting on you to put care into the content you put out.
(And on top of TechSurvey8, there's also the USC Annenberg study underwritten by Katz Media that not only confirmed radio personalities are at the core of the radio experience but the importance of a social connection. Radio fans said that personalities feel like "one of them" when there's interaction on social platforms.)
So, it's not about jumping the gun to be first - just to say what everybody else is saying and then walking away.
Beyond getting it right (which should be at the core of your brand's character), it's about using the headline to tell people something their "Live Feeds" haven't already told them and responding to fans.
It may sound like common sense, but it's not common practice.
Put more stock into being memorable during breaking news times - just not like this:
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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