Without effective promotion, even the best TV newscast doesn't fully reach its potential news audience, which today can get news and information in countless ways. Topical promotion is one common way TV stations try to build their audience. However, simply telling viewers about what types of stories they'll see on an upcoming broadcast isn't the only way a station should promote its news programming.
How to Back-Tease Your Coverage
Topical promotion tells people what they'll see in the future. Back-teasing reminds viewers of what you've already shown them. You may wonder why this is important, especially since people can't go back in time to watch a story that's already aired. This remains an important way to help build your media brand.
If a news anchor says, "Here's an update to the Exclusive story we were the first to tell you about last night...", she is telling you three key elements: her station had an Exclusive story, it aired last night, and (possibly) you missed getting to see it. The message is that you should have been watching because you'd have been the first to know.
This type of writing is usually delivered casually, but that doesn't mean it isn't critically important. Because many viewers believe all TV newscasts are the same, except for the people delivering them, this is a way to differentiate your coverage versus your competition. It also says you're following up on a story with new information.
Cross-Promotion Across Your Programs and Platforms
Cross-promotion is another key component. Years ago, that meant telling people when they could see your station's next newscast. Ideally, there would be a topical element included, such as, "Our next newscast is tonight at 11 when you'll see why a local high school cheerleading squad needs your help in hopes of winning a state title."
That remains important. You are telling people who are already watching your news why they should keep watching when your next broadcast airs.
This only takes into account your television audience. Today, you need to promote across your web and social media platforms. You're likely already using Facebook to build your media brand. Same with Twitter. You must consistently use those tools to drive people to your newscast.
The opposite path is true, too. You can send your viewers to social media and your website for additional information or updates between your on-air broadcasts. Ideally, you'd create a circle, with people going round-and-round between the various products you offer to get information.
Proof-of-Performance Advertising Reminds People of Your Coverage
A proof of performance advertisement, or p.o.p., is the final way to cement your news brand with viewers. It tells people what you've done for them.
This is how a typical p.o.p. is written: "Last week, Action News was the only news team allowed inside the governor's mansion for an exclusive interview with the state's top leader. We also showed you why some local families say their tap water smells. And we introduced you to the 5-year-old girl who already knows how to spell words better than many grownups. To get stories that no one else has, make sure you're watching Action News at 5, 6 and 11."
Because even heavy local news viewers still only watch a handful of newscasts in a week, they don't know about all of the great stories you've produced. Viewers who may watch another station will see these ads and reconsider which station they prefer for news.
It's important that your p.o.p. script not sound braggy, arrogant or mean-spirited. You wouldn't want to say something like, "At 3 a.m. Monday morning, the lazy Channel 12 news team was asleep. But we, the dedicated news professionals at Channel 6, were hard at work, on the scene of the fire that killed three people!" Telling people you were the first to gleefully report news of death is also not good for your image.
More than ever, delivering a successful TV newscast requires more than good content and a commitment to serve your community. You also have to be good at selling your product in every place you can in order to command the largest possible audience.