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Is TV Poised to Go The Way of The Newspaper?

A recent piece on TVNewsCheck titled “Newspapers: A Cautionary Tale for Local TV” sends a chilling message to local television stations around the country: are they doomed to the same decline that has been seen in the newspaper industry? Quite possibly. Especially if station managers don’t devise strategies designed to help them deliver value to their audiences. Isn’t this the same challenge that any marketer has? Yet, so often, marketers find themselves doing the same things they’ve always done and then lamenting the dismal results they’re seeing. You’ve likely heard the saying:

“If you always do, what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” If what you’re getting is what you want, great! But if not maybe it’s time to change your strategy. What do we look at when we consider strategy in any business setting:

  • Our target audience and what they value
  • Our competition, which I like to define as “any alternative source” of what I/my clients have to offer

For television stations–and for newspapers–what they target audience values is information, specific types of information that they have historically provided: news, sports and weather primarily. But today, those consumers can access that information through other channels (the competition)–most notably the Internet. Why do we need to watch the local weatherperson tell us about the weather (and wait until 6:00 or 10:00 p.m. to hear what they have to say), when we can simply look at an app on our smartphone?

The same is true of national/international news. We don’t need our local newspapers or local television stations to deliver the national news to us. We have access to national news, 24/7, through a variety of traditional (e.g. television) and new media (Internet, smartphone apps) outlets. We can overdose on the national news quite easily (I know, because I tend to do it far too often…).

What we can’t get so readily through new media sources, though, is in-depth local news, unless the local media are providing that news. The challenge then becomes discerning what types of local news/information is of value to the audience, where else they may be able to attain that information, and how to provide them with what they want (and what the competitors aren’t giving them).

That can certainly take a leap of faith–breaking away from the traditional is tough, but if it’s not working what other alternatives are there? As the author of the TVNewsCheck piece suggests, there is much that local television stations can learn from the plight of local newspapers (particularly those that are thriving despite the proliferation of other sources of information.

These lessons, though, aren’t limited only to local television stations. How is the world changing for your business and your customers? How are you staying on top of those changes and remaining relevant to your audience? Or maybe you’re not…

Here’s another saying that may resonate: “Adapt, migrate, mutate or die.” Which will you choose?

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