Print journalism was pronounced dead years ago, and broadcast journalism would be next in line if it weren’t for the power that social media wields. Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite, “The Most Trusted Man in America”, being the preferred soundtrack to a regular evening inside the American household. It was his reputation and his charisma that made him so endearing, but the reality of the glory days of journalism in all forms was that the market was unsaturated. Today, there are options aplenty and every media outlet must fight for their platform.
According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, television still sits atop of the mountain with 57% of adults choosing that as their preferred method of getting the day’s news with 38% choosing to find their news online. Nobody will feel that squeeze more than local news channels and the broadcast journalists that they employ. As reliance online news trends upward, especially in the 18-29 demographic, it is reasonable to expect TV’s position as the leading source of news will begin to dwindle.
So how should local channels and broadcasters take their brand to the next level? The easy answer is a strong social media presence. For audiences of every demographic, it gives them a chance to connect to their broadcasters when they are off-air with an inside look at the day-to-day operations and a taste of who these people really are, thus strengthening the brand and audience.
In September, Jeri Wesson of The Weather Company blogged about the budding relationship between social media and TV news. She explains very simply, “Audiences are shifting and news stations need to meet audiences where they are.” This relationship is necessary, and will only become more so as online news gains a larger market share. Similar to a clothing company using social media to drive conversions on their site, or a production company using a teaser trailer to drive ticket sales for a movie, these local channels will soon be forced to drive traffic to their main programs via the social media presence of their on-air talent. Whether it is a photo of the Weather team in their bunker tracking a big storm, or the Sports desk answering questions from viewers on Twitter, the viewership will feel more connected to those who deliver the news. That importance of that connection can’t be overstated.