When I first started in the TV business back in 1983, every now and then I’d “phone a friend” to alert them to a hot story that I was working on so they could watch it on the nightly news. Perhaps they’d even tell some other friends to watch.
My motivation at the time was vanity, not running up the ratings.
Now, its the other way around.
As a modern “digital correspondent”, not a day goes by that I don’t alert every “friend” I’ve ever had about what I’m doing that day, thanks to Twitter.
I Twitter the world (or at least my growing phalanx of followers) whenever an interview is imminent. “Questions for the Governor?” I’ll Tweet, in hopes of getting some “friend” engaged enough in the story to see if I’ll actually ask his question. Then hopefully that “friend”, and many others, will follow up by clicking through to my latest dispatch, photo or video as soon as it’s urgently posted on the television station’s website, and of course, Twittered again.
Later, maybe – just maybe — some of those people will actually watch the report with the Governor on the news that evening ! As they say on Twitter, “OMG!”
And then there is the Holy Grail. Something goes viral. All of a sudden your employer’s website recieves millions of hits from around the galaxy, all because your followers started forwarding to everyone they know about some snippet of “must-see” video that you just posted.
This is what I call the new micro-marketing of television news. Micro because each day it begins with a “tweet” to that first list of “friends”. It’s personal. It’s up to the individual reporter, not the organization, to drive eyeballs to the product. I’ve even been tinkering with live web cam chats out of my news car while driving to a story. I alert followers to log-in by Twitter, and sure enough, they come.
There’s no promotions department involved for this kind of personal reporter-to-friends mico-marketing. But there is a “Digital Development Director” who preaches the Twitter gospel and teaches staff all the tricks.
My colleagues and I use Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in — whatever social media is at our disposal to tell followers what we’re up to in near real time. It’s all in desperate hope of driving ever-so-fickle eyeballs to our employers’ websites and HD broadcasts. The vanity of phoning a friend is over. Now its about staying employed.
I’ve become a one-man personal promotions machine. On some days it seems, actually reporting the story is last on the list. Instead I’m scheming to churn out another little tease, er, I mean Tweet, to get the audience in the game. I try hard not to waste anyone’s time. It’s all news. (There are no “OMGs” about long lines at the bagel place, for instance).
Of course, this works in both directions. Followers send news of their own all day long. I’ve always said; “News doesn’t happen by magic. Somebody’s got to tell us.” Well, they’re tweeting away out there. The biggest challenge is finding the diamonds buried in the never-ending Tsunami of texts. “Send direct when u see news,” I like to Tweet to a new follower.
Many of those followers are PR professionals or marketers. Everybody’s in the game for their own reasons. I figure PR people and real estate agents have computers and TVs too. If that’s the audience, so be it. Tweets away!
For the following report, page views and comments jumped as Twitter was used to both solicit reactions and inform viewers when and where to see it: