Monday, May 4, 2009

Think Piece by Lee Abrams*

April 30, 2009


Constantly hearing the doom and gloom...the cutbacks, the negative stuff. It's pretty real, but throughout our company there's a LOT of re-invention going on. In fact, when this economy improves, WE will be the ones with the upper hand because instead of dwelling on the pain, we're doing something about it. Economically of course, AND IN CONTENT/CREATIVE. As sad as the state of the economy is, it's equally sad to see people whining, complaining and feeling sorry for themselves and the industry, when that energy can go toward breaking down some walls.

Just a few of the people out there moving FORWARD:

From Digby Solomon:

We had a full house for our upfront party for advertisers last night, announcing we were taking The Daily Press all-color. The Mayor even showed up to praise the Daily Press for taking a proactive stance during a recession to keep up with the times, and to tell people were we’re important both to the community and to local business. We got great feedback from our clients, and reset their view of us from part of a troubled industry to someone who was working to help them market themselves during a recession.

The link to our Daily Press page on you Tube shows the video we presented at the art museum last night to tell the story. The first part is a 30-second commercial we'll be running (free) on WTKR for consumers. It's not Hollywood quality, but the price was right, mostly done in house.

SACRAMENTO VS. YOUTUBE: Instead of letting the web own something, they’re fighting back and claiming their ground as a TV station.

From: Mercer, Brandon
To: Abrams, Lee
Sent: Thu Apr 23 01:05:37 2009
Subject: Local TV

Also.... remember the Southwest rapper you sent out a while ago? I'm working with Southwest to fly him out for our morning shows, and share him with Trib/LTV stations that want him, while he's here.


It's a MODEL for brands working together. Amazing. A year ago this stuff would be, it's happening:
From Joyce Winnecke:
Last week was Recession Relief Week for Chicago Tribune readers. And it was Recession Relief Week for Hoy, WGN-TV, WGN-AM and CLTV audiences too.
We coordinated editorial content and promotion across the newsrooms and business offices to create a full-market experience for millions of readers, listeners and viewers. Recession Relief Week began in our newsroom as an extension of the consumer team’s ongoing Recession Survival Guide. Very early in the planning stages, we expanded our story lists to include segments produced by each of our partners, many featuring Chicago Tribune expertise. We promoted in every direction possible, in our pages, in Hoy and on-air.
As Tony Hunter said yesterday, we acted like one company for the first time.
You’ll see more of this. We know that using the full strength of Chicago Tribune Media Group is key to our vision of becoming the dominant news and information destination in Chicago. We’re looking for more and better ways to coordinate with our partners.
Sheila Solomon is leading the charge for us. She’s giving WGN our front-page stories to tout on-air each evening. She’s arranging for our writers to discuss their fine work on-air. And she’s finding experts from our newsroom to help broadcast partners when they have specific needs. We want to promote Hoy, WGN-TV, WGN-AM and CLTV every chance we get too.
We’ll seek more opportunities like Recession Relief Week, and with those we will take the all-important next step – working far enough in advance to allow advertising teams to sell against the coordinated coverage.
This editorial coordination and cross-promotion is a critical part of our drive to thrive. Please send me your thoughts and ideas.

I added:

I think, moving forward, we look at topics beyond (and in addition to) the "how to cope with how bad everything is"
Imagine what the GROUP could do with Chicago hot buttons like:


Around the country I notice there's a LOT of recession help type stuff and obviously that’s important...but the GROUP power focusing on other mass appeal issues and PASSIONS could be very strong.



OWNING THE CUBS beyond airing the games…they are engaging the stars with a “60 Seconds” feature. The stars may be time pressed, but getting them for ONE minute shouldn’t be impossible.
Here are three that aired. This week is Ryan Theriot. I'll be sure to have the talent mention the player name at least 3 times in the segment. Once at the beginning....middle....end.
The files are here:

From WGN TV’s Marty Wilke:
Here's the first look at our new audio logo (incorporating the WGNA sonic notes) for the Chicago TMG brand!
Starts tomorrow on our air and will run everywhere on the station.
Shared w the TMG cross-marketing and promotion representatives today @ our regular meeting and will be pushing out to them today for use on their websites, pre/post-rolls, and presentations -- wherever and whenever we can to co-brand the most dominant brands in Chicago!

And...from WGN AMERICA.

(I have heard that there's some mysterious research indicating that people don;t like audio on websites. I imagine it can be a little annoying if you are barraged...but it seems to work fine when you click onto Windows or a Mac)

Take a look at some of WGN-AMERICA'S "local" images. Of course, 'local' for them is the whole Country. The point here is how the channel captures 'local' flavor via Reality instead of cliché. In other words, instead of the Grand Canyon or a Mom holding a baby that's holding an American flag, these are more REAL America. I think this is a good angle in capturing the REAL market vs. either:

*The clichés: The obvious landmarks that are ore about tourism than those who live there

*The fake: Fake skylines that are....fake

...future "postcards" will incorporate characters. REAL people.

I'm adding 89 new images to our on-air postcard library. Sean, some of these pix are yours, some are Langmyers and some are ones that i've gathered. we've got a good mix of shots here - urban/rural/country/industrial.

Ignore the seasonal one from Ohio - that will air in the fall. the statue of soldiers @ iwo jima is part of a thing i'm putting together for memorial day. the retro stamps are just freakin' cool.


SFL MORNING SHOW : A note I sent to Randy, Ed, Sean and others after experiencing WSFL:

Very blown away by the morning show! Not only the show, but the spirit and attitude of EVERYONE involved. If we can get 10 percent of this level of afdi, energy and willingness to reinvent at our other stations, we'll truly revolutionize TV.
There were quite a few nitpiks that I'll review today with the group, but overall, they are soooo local and soooo refreshingly and NOTICEABLY different from EVERYone else.
The other stations look disconnected, TOO professional and slick and "nationalized" in comparison, and I think this show is on track to hit its psychographic head on. Watched the competition and it was hilariously dated—Stiff, evil looking Ivory Tower news people wearing 1987 Reagan era suits, taking “news speak” with blue and silver everywhere. As organic and real as a chunk of linoleum. The CONTENT was generally fine, but undermined by a dated-playbook presentation.

They know their place on the intellectual/culture scale---and nail it well.

One BIG challenge is going to be to get the other 20 hours of sfl to match the magic of the morning show. 24/7/365

There's of course a lot for them to do but I can tell we have the makings of a winner that can be influential at our other stations. This show is SO south Florida, you can't simply recreate it, but it CAN serve as a model of breaking away, blowing up the playbook, creating a wonderful internal vibe (more like a killer radio station in 1975 than a TV station), and afdi.

I'm impressed and excited about where this can go. In a year...look out!

There are so many things they're doing right--the breezy way they refer to YouTube and facebook (vs "tech minute") to the set (love the retro photos and the painting of the city instead of a fake backdrop).
A work in progress of course, and not perfect, but they got the mojo going.
Now, just gotta make sure this sprit happens 24/7....and the whole station sings with new image innovation!
ZERO TV baggage…and it shows. Traditionalists will laugh…kinda like the old farts at BMG laughed at the audacity of “digital music”.

…The teamwork in Chicago, the spirit of reinvention in South Florida...Just two of the things that will define the Tribune Company, and in time the whole Media Industry.
*Editor's Note: I deleted a few lines from the Abrams' memo that offered password access to an online photo gallery.

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