The Local News Revolution

Press 06–21–18

 
by Kevin Aratari, Brand Evangelist

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must be completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

—Cynthia Occelli

With the vast and seemingly overnight proliferation of mobile news instantly delivered to your pocket as it breaks, local broadcast news seemed to be on the same path as appointment viewing, yellow cabs, and CDs…but don’t be too quick to make assumptions.

According to recent polls local news is still the most trusted source, and that’s a great foundation. To help future-proof that equity, visionary broadcasters are blowing up old models of local news and completely redefining the space in a new and exciting way. From new on-air makeovers to an infusion of new talent to literally gutting and rebuilding sets and formats, local news has quickly become one of the most innovative areas of media today. But before you pick up that sledgehammer, let’s take a look at some principles and best practices that station groups are using as a foundation to build upon.

 

A digital-linear ecosystem

Mobile, desktop, and linear all have a role in the food chain. Defining the purpose for each, its viewer, type content, and desired outcome should be the first step of a “total media” strategy. Where do viewers go for breaking news? For features? For more in-depth information? Who is most likely to use each platform, and how can you guide them from one to another? How can sponsors be uniquely integrated throughout to drive value to the partnership, and not just repurposed? Once you understand the complete journey from the audience point of view, old problems become easier to solve and new opportunities begin to surface.

 

Digital-first design

The days of long lead-ins to programming are gone, as an increasingly ADD audience has become used to getting the content they want in an instant. Your packaging should reflect this, both in its function and its look. Mobile-first viewers are accustomed to simple, clear design that allows them to easily find what they’re looking for. This is particularly important in the pre-commute hours, and during drive time (or train time) on your mobile platform. Old habits are hard to break and designing for simplicity can seem…just toosimple, but you have to remain steadfast in thinking like a viewer throughout the process.

 

Always be sharable

Your audience can be much more than happy viewers, they can be evangelists and marketers for your brand. Emerging audiences want to be part of the story—so let them. Giving them opportunities upload comments and photos on their mobile devices and featuring them on your linear and digital platforms will keep them engaged and keep them tweeting about you…and helping to broadcast you and your sponsors to the world. This is an area that provides so much opportunity for creativity and connection with you and the local community.

The world is changing, and the successful ones are changing with it. Ingenuity, resourcefulness, and most of all—thinking like a fan, will put you at the forefront of the local news renaissance.