Anyone in a LPM market is fighting for every tenth of a demo point that they can get. Sure, a great product goes a long way but little things matter too. Here are some that have repeatedly come up in research, including focus groups:
- When W___ covered a story on my block their news van ran over my grass. No one offered an apology or gave me a number to call to get the ruts in my lawn repaired.
- I encountered WDDD’s anchor at a grocery store. She was cold and aloof. I was snubbed. I won’t watch her again. (Fifteen comment from thirty focus group participants in one city…Wow!)
- I called K___ to give them a news tip. I was put on hold. Finally when I got to speak to someone he was very dismissive. I called another station and they took the time to listen. I have switched stations.
- The station didn’t get the story right. I was there and its report was inaccurate.
- I commented on a station’s Facebook post and asked a question. I never got a reply. That station doesn’t care about my comments or concerns.
In today’s world everyone is doing more with less. That is a poor excuse for rude behavior. It does not take much to be courteous. But to make matters worse the first four comments above have surfaced repeatedly for the last 15 years. Few stations have made an effort to correct the problem.
Now Facebook and Twitter amplify your indiscretions. Today the offended viewer doesn’t simply tell his neighbor, he or she tells 500+ friends. The potential for losing viewers has grown.
If you don’t insist that your employees treat viewers with respect, you will lose pay the price.
So how did you know what your employees do in the normal course of business?
- First and foremost be honest. Tell you staff that being polite is important and that you will randomly monitor. Then have friends call your newsroom and respond to your social media efforts and keep track of what kind of response you get.
- Second, ask. No stations that I know ever have ever asked “How are we doing?” Pose the question on air, on social media and in research.
- Make sure you listen! If you really are the station that is “On My Side” or “Working for Me”, there is a good chance that I will appreciate your effort to reach out. Don’t forget to report the results. Then let viewers know what you are doing to correct the problem.
All of this should be an ongoing effort. If viewers feel that you are the station that listens, you will build a solid relationship…one person at a time.