Need to create an image
Hey Fellow Cows,
Here's the situation. We started our local cable news station about 14 yrs. ago. Things were going fine, everyone knew who we were and what channel we were on (ch. 13 incidentally)
Anywho, a couple of years later, another broadcast station started a local news station.
That's all well and good, competition is great. But the problem we are facing on a daily basis is that people still think we are them and vice versa. It makes it worse because some of the reporters that used to work there now work here and the actual station used to be right next to us on the dial on channel 12 (which they are not anyomre).
I know for a fact we are losing news stories to them because of contacts we call after the fact saying they already set it up with us and we are losing ad sales as well because when there sales staff walks in and tells people who they are, the client thinks it is us.
So, getting to my question; What do we have to do to distance ourselves from "the other guy"?
Pick what your station represents, make sure it does/can actually represent that, then promote the hell out of it.
The worst thing you can do is try to be everything to everyone. If you have the most local news, go that route. If you have the most advanced weather technology, pound it into the ground. Make it seem like certain death and destruction if people tune to any station other than yours for weather. If your station specializes in investigative, in-your-face reporting then brand yourself as the only place in town that can protect the viewer from the never ending assault of con men and scam artists--you are the line of defense hunting these people down to protect the honest, hard working viewer.
It can be tiring and sometimes difficult to force yourself to put together yet another promo extolling your virtues as the most trusted news station in town, but when the ratings come in and you find yourself starting to climb it makes it easier to handle.
Do you guys have a marketing manager? If you don't have one, get one. If you can't afford one start taking marketing classes, search google for news marketing tips--Graeme Newell has some really good stuff.
We get DVDs from Lee Hunt every once in a while that showcase some of the best TV station marketing out there--it can be really inspirational. I think this is the website: http://www.leehunt.com/brandstrategy.html
Overall I would say decide what your station represents, work hard every day to prove it, and remind viewers what you stand for and why.
My 2 cents.
PS. Where are you located?
Agree with what's been said so far. Definitely you need a cohesive brand identity and marketing strategy. It comprises color and form for the logo and all your matching on-air graphics, as well as verbal "hooks", slogans, audio cues, etc.
Every ident, lower third, and voiced intro/wrap needs to have the "magic phrase" in it, whatever your strategy team decides you are. Be it "channel 13 Heartland News","Green Thirteen" "Local Thirteen NewsNOW", "Livethirteen","thirteenFirst", or whatever. A simple, easy to recognize and CONSISTENT logo is in all the graphics, on your mic flags, on your trucks, and is reinforced with the marketing catchphrase, whatever that winds up being.
The consumer advocate and problem-solver type pieces that are usually saved for sweeps periods need to be used more often, to get your air staff and visible crews out in the community as living billboards, and cross-promoted on radio, the web, and in print media. Yes, before you say it, I'll agree this can be obnoxious... if done sloppily and inconsistently. But this is how you build that brand awareness, with consistent impressions, over and over.
First have internal discussions and come to some consensus over what your specialty is, what's unique to your place, and how to encapsulate that in a slogan. Then work with a graphic designer to use color and form and proportions to reinforce that image and slogan. Every channel in my market can be identified just by the predominant color in their graphics packages and logos. You may like or hate their logos but they are distinctive and memorable. Lately, some of them have been making their graphics overly-busy, and I think that loses the audience.
Exactly what Mark said, but I'd like to add one thing. If you chose a brand/identity/logo etc... that's currently different than the one you're using, do not air your new stuff until you are 100% ready to roll with it. That means all news opens, reopens, ID's, lower thirds, decals on trucks, mic flags, equipement, station leaderhead--everything needs to reflect your new change. Mixing the old with the new will only make your look unsure of what you represent and will likely confuse the audience. Do that and you may as well hand the reins over to the new guys.
Also, should you choose a look that's much different than what you have now, be prepared for an uphill battle, especially if you've been around for a while. Any change is tough and takes a lot--A LOT--of preplanning. If you can't get all the department heads on the same page then change nothing. You could have the best marketing in the world but if the reporters and anchors and news director aren't sold they'll whip the rug out from under you.
It is a team effort for sure, but it can also be a lot of fun. I've worked at stations where we underwent major changes--some were executed well, other's nearly a disaster. The difference was in the planning--every change necessary should be written down, people assigned to making those changes, and then held accountable if they aren't done. Don't go live with new slogans/logos/etc... until every bit of your station reflects it.
Good luck and have fun!
Thanks for all the great advice. I'll look into that Lee Hunt guy too.
BTW I'm in the "big" metropolis of Hazleton, PA. You might have heard of us recently because our mayor Lou Barletta is the first mayor in the country to put forth an illegal immigration relief act http://www.smalltowndefenders.com/public/
Anyway, thanks again
when I was in Rome the company that I worked for did all tipes of branding. You can go check out their web site, all the work they do is really elegant, check out specially the branding for Cult Network, could be good to get some ideas.
Here' the link: