Before social media came along, journalists at local TV stations were already multitasking like crazy. “Doing more with less” with new newscasts, more promos and web stories, to boot.
Now with the advent of Facebook and Twitter, some journalists are elevating multitasking to a new art form. WSPA-TV anchor Amy Wood in Spartanburg, SC is hard to beat, amassing one of local TV’s largest social followings (@TVAmy | Facebook) in part by interacting with her audience while she’s live on the air.
“I solo anchor, run the foot pedal prompter, do the live streaming, keep an eye on comments, pick the best comments and throw them into script at the end of the show. It’s a multitaskers dream come true,” she tells Lost Remote in an email interview.
While the newscast streams live on WSPA.com, a behind-the-scenes stream comes from Wood’s laptop on the anchor desk. During commercials breaks, packages and SOTs (“sound on tape”), she chats with her viewers — both via video and social media — offering them a unique perspective into the broadcast. It’s like sitting next to her on the set during the broadcast. “Viewers LOVE it. Viewers ask me questions, about the business, what’s happening, chat among themselves,” she says.
Some of the viewer comments are quickly integrated on air. Wood plugs the interactive side of the broadcast on the linear version, bringing in new participants.
For nearly three years, Wood has run the behind-the-scenes stream every Friday night. But last week, she switched from Ustream to Livestream, and with Facebook’s help, embedded the player on her Facebook page. Now she’s streaming five nights a week at 10 p.m. ET.
“For me, it is like having your own focus group each night, whether it comes in this chat or on my Facebook wall or Twitter stream,” she said. “You get comments to show on TV, breaking news tips, humor, and they get transparency, access and a better understanding of who I am. There’s a powerful energizing connection that helps to keep every show fresh and interesting.”
“Love the chat and being able to see how others interpret the news,” said viewer Kimberly Will when Wood asked the group what they think of it. “And seeing the behind the scenes and getting to know our local new anchors on a more ‘personal’ level make the new more interesting to watch!”
With so much going at the same time, something is bound to go wrong on occasion. “Last night the stupid prompter kept rolling, while I was chatting,” she said. “It sticks at times, I flubbed a tad out of the break, trying to roll it back, but handled it. The chat room LOVES that. Because at the next SOT or break I can address it, and they have already laughed with me and told me I handled it well. There is such a cool connection!”
So why does she do it? “I’ve been in the market 20 years, and once I touched my toes in the social media waters, I jumped right in and keep jumping,” she explains. “It keeps what I do fresh and gives me new challenges to conquer. The bonus of building a fabulous fan base in the process and a better understanding of my audience, is the icing on the cake.”