Friday, September 10, 2010

Memo to General Managers: the most important asset of any television station is its staff

A while back I was talking to a new client who told me I could watch some of her stories on the station's website. Upon visiting said website, I started looking for the news staff bios, to learn a little more about the person I was talking to and see the face that went with the voice.

"I can't find you," I said.

"Oh, our station doesn't put our pictures or bios on the website."

Huh? If ever the cluegun needed to be fired, this was the time.

Since that call I've noted more than a few stations have this policy. Apparently this conversation goes on between general managers and webmasters when launching a website:

Webmaster: "I'll need photos of all the on air staff for the bios."

GM: "Ah, but we're not going to put those on the website. I want no information about our people anywhere! Nothing!"

Webmaster: "But viewers want to get to know the people they watch--"

GM: "Then keep 'em guessing! No photos, no bios, nothing! Hey, they'll spend lots of time looking for the on-air staff and that will give us more page views! Maybe you could create some sort of infinite search loop so that they think they're getting close to finding what they want!"

We've heard about "branding" for years now, and it's time some managers realized that people are the brand. Sure, you may have catchy slogans and a slick logo, but the main reason viewers tune in to watch a newscast is because they like and trust the people on it. Hello, McFly! Your anchors and reporters are the "face" of your station, whether you beancounters want to admit it or not.

On the other side of the coin are the stations who have bios on the behind-the-scenes people; the photogs, producers, and all members of the news staff. That's not only cool, it builds morale. It tells those who are not on camera that they're just as important as those in front of it.

Not putting your people on the website is like a restaurant running a TV ad without showing the food.

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