– Sex up your copy
– Go for the emotional juggler
-Zero in on something specific
Why can one status report on facebook get 53 people to respond within minutes, while another will sit there for hours with little or no response? The same thing happens to morning newscasts when you ask viewers to participate in a poll or question. Some days you get great reaction, other days its like no one’s watching!
Asking viewers to stop what they are doing and send you a text, twitter or facebook reaction is asking a lot of people. Especially in the mornings. Viewers are busy in the morning, getting dressed, getting the kids out the door to school, getting ready for work, etc. So why is it that some stations have so much success with viewer feedback while others fail miserably? There are several keys to getting viewers to respond.
Sex up your questions
This is not a time to be conservative. You really need to get the viewers attention, so dont be shy. Have some fun with the copy and how you ask the question. Dont phrase the question in standard new style.
Weak: What do you think of President Obamas plan to freeze federal wages?
Stronger: Whats the craziest thing your boss has ever asked you to do?
WPIX in New York is a master at this. For instance, they showed posters about binge drinking, and then posed this question:
“Would these posters make you stop two drinks shy of sloppy drunk? Guys? Gals?”
Or when it was announced that Eva Longoria was leaving Tony Parker, WPIX posted this question:
“Whose behavior is worse? Tiger Woods (who slept with everything under the sun) or Tony Parker–who allegedly slept with a teammate’s wife.”
Don’t talk in broad terms or generically when asking viewers to respond. The more specific you can be the more impact the question will have on viewers. For instance:
Weak: “Did you go shopping on Black Friday, tell us your experience.”
Stronger: “Tell us the best deal you got on Black Friday!”
Weak: “Are you considering giving a child a pet as a Christmas present?”
Stronger: “Tell us something a new pet did that you’ll never forget!”
Weak: “What do you think of Prince William getting married to Kate Middleton?”
Stronger: “Prince William proposed to his girlfriend giving her Diana’s engagement ring. Romantic or macabre?”
Pick topics that affect a broad audience
Picking a topic that is too narrow is one of the deadliest traps. Find topics that most everyone will take a stand on such as “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” or the TSA full body pat downs. For instance, everyone has an opinion about guns, so a good question this week would be to ask viewers what they think of the new law that will let riders on Amtrak bring an unloaded gun onto the trains. Go for topics that people affect viewers emotionally. Emotion entices viewers to participate as they want to express their feelings, such as anger, frustration, humor, sadness, love, surprise, disgust, contempt, etc.
Keep asking the question over the course of the show. Usually the topic is the talker of the day, so don’t be afraid to ask it each half hour, and have your anchors “talk it up.” They can, and should, react to it as well. If the question is about the craziest thing a boss has ever asked you to do, let the anchors tell their own stories of something that happened to them at some point in their lives. You can’t just ask the question as a 10 second full screen graphic and move on. You have to work at getting the viewers to participate.
This is one of the few times you can have fun with your copy. Get creative and get your viewers attention. Pick topics that viewers are sure to have an opinion on, and ask it repeatedly through the show. The more your anchors talk about it and react to it, the more likely your viewers will want to participate.
Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Doug on facebook http://www.facebook.com/dougdrew and on twitter at http://twitter.com/dougdrew