Expert Columns

How do you talk to your audience? Are they just “the audience”... or are they something more? Are they your best friends?
There's a big difference between the two. “The Audience” is a faceless someone who just happens to be scanning the dial and comes across your station. Your best friend is totally different.
Take a second to think about how you talk to your best friend. Is it a more personal conversation? More in-depth? Is there a level of trust? Of safety? There's a huge difference in how you talk to a best friend versus a group of nameless strangers.
European ad agency All 4 Comms describes the difference like this: “...people tend to pay much more attention to highly emotional, carefully crafted and personal messages which they can relate to, not to corporate information, packed with facts and statistics. The same is expected from media. They value real, personal stories with high emotional impact.” (, Top Communication Trends in 2017)
What if you started talking to your audience like you would talk to your best friend? No, you don't need to share your secrets … but you can create a level of trust and depth that invites people to listen, that lets them know you are someone who is invested in their lives.
On one hand, talking to the audience the way I talk to my best friend makes me feel a little vulnerable … on the other hand, maybe that's the point.
So what difference will it make if you start talking to your audience like they've a best friend? Will your audience respond? Will you grow as a communicator? Why not give it a try and see what happens.

This past week, the New York Times released social media guidelines for its reporters. The new guidelines are worth reading – and maybe even “borrowing – for your team. Here's a sample:
• “Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.”
• “While you may think that your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media accounts are private zones, separate from your role at The Times, in fact everything we post or 'like' online is to some degree public. And everything we do in public is likely to be associated with The Times.”
• “Always treat others with respect on social media. If a reader questions or criticizes our work or social media post, and you would like to respond, be thoughtful. Do not imply that the person hasn't carefully read your work.”
• “If the criticism is especially aggressive or inconsiderate, it's probably best to refrain from responding.”
• “Be transparent. If you tweeted an error or something inappropriate and wish to delete the tweet, be sure to quickly acknowledge the deletion in a subsequent tweet.”
(All quotes taken directly from The New York Times - “The Times Issues Social Media Guidelines for the Newsroom” - October 13, 2017)
Having written social media guidelines gives you and your team a standard to reference when selecting topics and comments to post. In our social media-obsessed world, it's worthwhile to have concrete guidelines to protect yourself, your team and your station from posting something that your audience may view offensive, inappropriate or politically charged. If you do not have social media guidelines in place, take a cue from the New York Times and set up standards for your team today.

When was the last time you read 174 newspapers … in a day?
That's how much data comes at us in a day's time: the equivalent of 174 newspapers.
Writing coach Ann Wylie recently explained how much information comes at us each and every day thanks to the internet. She quotes a study by the University of Southern California's Institute for Communications Technology Management that each day our world consumes more than:
• 63 hours of streaming video
• 63,000 hours of streaming music
• 10,000 times the complete works of Shakespeare
The individual person consumes more than 15 hours of media each day.
And that includes your communications channels!
How do you cut through the clutter? Sometimes it comes back to the basics:
• Know your audience.
• Curate content that connects with your audience.
• Invite them in to your world … and encourage them to invite others in.
• Be consistent.
It's a lot of work. But remember, you're not trying to reach everyone in the world. You're not trying to outdo 174 newspapers. You're talking to your audience … one person at a time … and they're worth the work.

Las Vegas: 58 concert attendees dead, 500 injured. Our nation's attention has been focused on the October 1 mass shooting. We've consumed hours of news coverage about the event, the victims, the shooter and the Las Vegas law enforcement personnel. But the one thing that hasn't received as much coverage is how the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) connected with concert-goers and the community at large. Here's a quick look:
1) Active Social Media Channels: The LVMPD treated their Facebook and Twitter feeds as official communications outlets. The department Facebook and Twitter pages contained regular updates with information about ongoing investigations, updates on officers and news of importance. If you look at the pages, you'll find that the LVMPD's content rivals the content you'd see on a six-o'clock TV newscast. Social media is not an afterthought for the LVMPD. It's treated as an official communications channel.
2) The Right People: The individual – or team – running the LVMPD social media feeds knew how to handle communications during a crisis. The social media messages were timely and coordinated with real-time events (road closures, emergency info). It appears that the LVMPD invested time and training to make sure their social media team knew how to handle such an event.
3) Valuable Content: During the shooting, the LVMPD provided important content to concert-goers and the community. As already mentioned, users received information about emergency info and road closures. But there was much more content available on the social media pages: information about ongoing investigations, tips, contact info and community events. The strategy behind the social media content was thoughtfully planned.
Borrow a few ideas from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Make sure your team knows how and what to include on your social media pages. Invest time showing them how the channels tie in to your on-air and community outreaches. And if you don't have a social media strategy, sit down and think through how you can tie your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds to your on-air messages in order to make the most of your communications channels.
Take the time to invest in your team and tools today. Don't wait until you're dealing with a crisis.

She's your target listener. You want to connect with her and you want to keep her coming back to your station. But do you know her media habits?

In early 2017, Mitchel Public Relations released a study on Moms – specifically Millennial Moms – and shared information about mom's media habits and preferences. Here are a few highlights that might be helpful as you plan programming, advertising and promotions:

• 70% of millennial moms use their phones to access the online world. (As a result, they are less likely to use a laptop or PC.

• Her most visited sites include parenting communities, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Twitter and Tumblr are less important.

• Nearly a quarter of U.S. Millennial moms do half or more of their shopping online.

• Eight out of ten millennial moms use their phone for shopping while in store.

• She is likely to notice digital ads featuring deals, sales or other money-saving offers.

• She pays attention to bloggers and social media influencers and is likely to purchase something that a trusted blogger has promoted.

As you have opportunity, find ways to connect with mom online – in her world. Make your content and promotions smart phone-friendly and let her know that you're working to connect and give her encouragement and helpful information. She'll appreciate your work.

Bill Arbuckle CMW

Bill Arbuckle is a media and marketing pro with over twenty-five years experience in creating media promotions. You can connect with him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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