Image Promotion and Your TV Newscast Ratings

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Image promotion sells a vast array of consumer products, from luxury cars to coffee. However, it is often underused at many TV stations. By developing a brand identity for a TV station's newscast and using consistent image promotion to sell it, a station can see its Nielsen ratings increase while developing a deep connection with viewers. Here's how image promotion builds your TV newscast ratings:

The Basics of Image Promotion

Think of image promotion as the opposite of topical promotion and you'll see how the two go together to form a one-two punch for a TV station's advertising strategy. Where topical promotion goes for a quick sell for that night's newscast, image promotion tries to develop a lasting relationship with the viewer.

A soup company tries to sell its product on warmth and goodness. A truck company sells its pickups based on ruggedness and a go-anywhere attitude. A newscast can be seen as more than just a daily compilation of car crashes and house fires.

To do it requires a thorough understanding of the newscast, the anchors who present it and the station's position in the DMA. Market analysis and focus group research can help make some key decisions before an image promo is ever written.

A station that wants its news team to be perceived as aggressive, gritty and fast-moving will make decisions on everything from the news music, announcer's voice and graphics to support that theme.

Another station may make the opposite choices if it wants to be seen as caring, community-focused and family-oriented.

Why Image Promotion Is Important

Ask viewers and most will tell you that TV newscasts are all the same. Sure, the faces on each station are different, but they all basically report the same information.

Customers feel the same way about banks. They probably choose the one that's closest to their home or office, because lending rates are often the same.

You've probably seen a bank or two in your city invest in a marketing campaign to set themselves apart from their competition. They strive to show they care more and will help customers reach their lifelong financial goals.

Take that example and apply it to your TV station. Launch a community outreach strategy using your highest-profile news anchors. Shoot video of the anchors helping the community, and you have the first part of your image promotion.

Now that you have proof your anchors care about people, show how they care about the stories they cover. Show their involvement in the newsroom, on the scene of important breaking news and sitting down with newsmakers, like your state's governor.

You have established visual proof that your station isn't like your competitors. Over time, that should bring results in your market research and eventually your Nielsen ratings.

What You Should Promote

In choosing which attributes to highlight using image promotion, first consider your desired audience demographics. Women ages 25-54 will respond to different imagery than men 18-34, but everyone loves children and pets.

Show your anchors with kids and animals and you can't go wrong.

A reality of the TV business is that your star anchors may be on the verge of leaving for a larger DMA. While you want to make the image promotion personal, remember that you also want to brand your station. That way, you have some protection if the faces change over the years.

Keep in mind the values of the viewers in your market. If you see an excellent image promo from a TV station in Miami, it might not work for your station in Des Moines, Iowa. A cookie-cutter approach may not make much impact with the audience. Take time to understand the nuances of your market.

Finally, give yourself some inspiration. Watch this TV commercial from 1979 for Coca-Cola. Image promotion doesn't get any more effective than this. Notice that the product isn't even mentioned until about halfway through the :60 spot, and while the sales pitch is subtle, "want my Coke?", the impact is everlasting, even decades later.

While it might be tough to outdo that classic commercial, think about the emotional connection you want to make with your audience. Image promotion isn't easy, but do it successfully and you will build audience loyalty in a way no other form of advertising can match.