An Inside Look: The Role Local TV Plays During a Crisis

Meredith Atlanta About The Author

May 1, 2020 at 9:12 AM

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It’s a growing global issue and when it comes to consumers seeking news and information about the COVID-19 crisis, local TV stations are playing a critical role. With stay-at-home orders, mandates varying state to state, and many local businesses being affected, viewers are turning to their local affiliates in record levels for updates, statistics, and breaking news. In Atlanta, the local CBS station, WGCL CBS46’s ratings have seen an overall 96% increase among adults 25-54 in nearly all of their newscasts. (SOURCE: Nielsen Atlanta Live +SD Feb’20 & 3-26-20 to 4-22-20)” 

As we explore the reasons more consumers are choosing local television over national media outlets, and the types of content local stations are providing, it’s important to keep in mind how you, a business owner, can apply this information to your own messaging and use this surge in viewership to get in front of consumers. 

Delivering Solutions, Awareness & Reassurance

Local news stations deliver stories and content that directly impact local consumers on a daily basis. Whether it’s traffic reports, weather forecasts, crime, politics, or feel-good features, it’s information that provides solutions, awareness, and reassurance to local families and businesses. This hyper-local focused information is vital to audiences especially during this particular health crisis as many are facing new problems, tough decisions, and uncertainty. Local news stations understand the value of providing useful information viewers and consumers need right now - something local businesses should be doing as well.

Providing Solutions: Local news serves as a community resource of information for assistance available to the public. With many businesses ordered to shut their doors and unemployment at a record high, information on government assistance and financial aid is more crucial than ever. Updates are being reported each day on loan programs for small businesses, financial aid for those unemployed, and even food programs for individuals and families in need.  

It’s important for local news outlets to report on these financial resources and it’s equally important for businesses to share this type of information for customers, too. If your business is providing financial aid, loans, or any type of relief, use this in your own marketing messages and campaigns. It’s vital information customers are seeking at this time and it shows that your business is in touch with reality.  

Providing Awareness: Are you open? Local news stations are clearly looking to provide information that consumers could use to make these difficult times easier. The status of local businesses is important and news stations are sharing that information through stories, social platforms, and even on their mobile apps. Think about your business. What services are still available? Are you offering special operating hours or putting new safety measures in place? Consumers’ choices are now limited and they are looking for businesses to meet their needs and also their safety concerns. Share these details in your own messaging, as the way we do business is now changing and shoppers understand that.  

If a local TV station has a lifestyle show, seek out integrated sales segments for your business. It’s a sure way the public will see the services you are currently providing, any special assistance available, and the measures you are taking to ensure their safety and the health of your own employees. These segments are fun, informative, and cost-efficient and can be packaged with your own commercial schedule to give you greater reach. By delivering the information viewers need now, you’ll stay top-of-mind plus provide a service to your community. 

Providing Reassurance: There’s a misconception that all news is negative news. While that might seem particularly true now, in reality, local news stations work hard to highlight the good within its community. Despite the virus, many locals are rising up to help their most vulnerable members and the news is there to cover it. Stories include frontline healthcare heroes, teachers going above and beyond for students, restaurants donating food to local hospitals, and businesses changing their production line to produce PPE (personal protection equipment) - all in an effort to take care of one another.

Local businesses can share their own positive message by working with a local TV station either through their own client messaging or community sponsorships. By aligning your brand with positive, feel-good news and information, you’ll be reassuring viewers and potential customers. 

How to Partner With Your Local TV Station 

Many businesses are working with their local TV stations to provide the information customers really need: who's open, the best practices for getting out to get food and supplies, and any information customers need about how to handle their shopping or essential business tasks. TV viewership has increased substantially during this time as more people are relying on their local stations for important information, which makes it the perfect time to get your message in front of your audience.

Contact your local station to help your businesses craft a timely and informative message, plus find ways you can get involved in their community initiatives or lifestyle programs. There’s no better time than now to lean on your local station.  

Content Checklist: How to Tailor Your Messaging During the COVID-19 Crisis