New Look for CJ&N

We are proud to introduce you to our new look this week at CJ&N and we hope you like it as much as we do.

Our new logo is a reflection of today’s ScreenHunter_625 May. 26, 2015 07.50consumer – constantly surrounded by information.  If you look at it another way, it’s a keyhole.  That’s the insight that research can unlock to give you a strategic advantage.

A lot has happened since CJ&N began in 1998.  Back then, only 41 percent of U.S. adults even went online.  The first television station in the country began HD broadcasts.  It was still common to hear, “You’ve got mail.”   After 17 years, we felt it was time for CJ&N to get an update too.

We may have a fresh look, but our commitment to our clients is unchanged.  We help them succeed in an increasingly complex world by providing research and insight which allows them to form relationships with their audiences on every screen.   At CJ&N we’re ready for the next 17 years and can’t wait to see all of the changes to come!

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Attract Viewers with Content, Not Contests

By Steve Schwaid, VP Digital Strategies

ScreenHunter_622 May. 05, 2015 01.18Watch our morning news and you could win a trip to England.

Watch our 6 pm news and you could win a cruise.

Watch our 11/10 pm news and you could win a mortgage or a $1,000 a week.

Topicals have now been replaced with spots that remind me of car sales folks. Come in, test drive our new car and you could win…

What’s wrong with this picture? What’s missing from this picture?

One thing: content.

Sure, we can tempt folks to watch a show for a cash or prize incentive, but long term where does it get us?  If stations are only focused on three months of the year, it will build no loyalty. My father used to call me and ask is it a ratings period? I said, “Yes, how did you know?” His reply, “All of the commercials for prizes and give-aways.”

Again, I ask, where does this get us?


In this very scary time for local news of viewer fragmentation, DVRs, and internet content consumption, stations are resorting to whatever they can to get viewers in the tent during ratings. But that doesn’t build viewing habits.  At the end of the day, people want news about where they live. They want investigations. They want weather folks who can drill down and give hyper-local weather content with micro forecasts for viewers’ communities and neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, many stations no longer sell content. Instead, they try to reward viewers with prizes. And the content they do deliver isn’t meaningful to viewers. As long as stations focus on cheap breaking news – car accidents, house fires and stories that lack relevance – viewers will search other places for news relevant to their lives. Where are the ground breaking investigations? Where are the stories that took a little in-depth reporting and didn’t rely on the group press conference? Where are the stories about people?

The stations that promote and deliver those kinds of stories will be much more likely to build an audience and survive.

It bothers me that so many stations offer only a trip, shopping spree or $1,000 as a reason to watch. Why? Because it shows that local news doesn’t have the confidence and conviction to focus on what viewers tell us they want: stories that impact their lives. That’s the ticket to success.

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Television: Distribution on the Brink

ScreenHunter_621 Apr. 28, 2015 12.30When I went out for lunch today something caught my eye as I drove by my local cable company:  a Brinks truck backed up to the front door (I’m not kidding).  They were about to cart off another load of money, some of it probably mine from a monthly three-digit cable bill.  I’ve never been closer to saying goodbye to cable.  This is day four of having AppleTV at my house, and  it’s not yet time – but almost – to cut the cable subscription.  Between the streaming choices, Netflix and over-the-air signals, I’m getting about 75% of what I need from a source other than cable.  All of these streaming services have a slice of what I want.  I just need someone to put it all together so I can buy the right ingredients like ESPN, CNN, etc. without having to log in as a cable subscriber.  It’s coming, but no one yet has the complete solution.  Give it 12-18 months.  Then stand back and watch the exodus.

The ABC News app on AppleTV  is interesting in part because of the content loaded by some local stations.  I watched two stories from the Hearst station in Honolulu over the weekend and it was fascinating.  Granted I’m a newsaholic, but shouldn’t every local station want their content available on demand?  Why wouldn’t you develop an app and partner with streaming services?  Does anyone honestly think that Apple, Slingbox, or Netflix won’t be in the distribution business in the future?   Pushing local content means more than a local station’s own signals, website and mobile apps.  It’s time to branch out if you’re a broadcaster.

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Time to Stop Serving Up News in the Same Old Way

ScreenHunter_551 Feb. 02, 2015 08.58By John Altenbern, President

How do you like your burgers?  Chances are your answer isn’t “Like McDonald’s makes them.”   Last week’s news had two burger stories that speak volumes about local news, too.  First, the CEO of McDonald’s got himself “McFired” for slipping sales and lack of innovation.  Second, Shake Shack had a huge public stock offering, instantly making the little chain a $1.6  billion business.  It’s not that Americans don’t like burgers, but we seem to have fallen out of love with traditional fast food.  We want Five Guys, Smashburgers and Shake Shack.

 To me it sounds a little like what is going on in local television stations.  While we still serve a lot of “fast news” to hungry consumers, other more interesting options are popping up all over.  And like McDonalds, TV newsrooms are having a hard time adjusting to new realities.  NPR covered the burger story, and this quote caught my eye:  “Part of the reason that there hasn’t been more innovation there (fast food) is because the supply chain is built around heavily processed frozen food product, and so to change the product offering, you’d have to re-engineer everything from the supply chain to the kitchen layouts to the training systems and more.”  Sound familiar?  Our packages, voiceovers and live shots are just like that “heavily processed fast food.”

Despite mantras like “digital first” and new social media efforts, too many TV newsrooms are hooked on making burgers and fries (substitute today’s events and weather forecasts). Research clearly shows that audiences are busy finding alternative news sources and consuming content from upstarts.  Viewer tastes are changing.  Yes, local television still has big audiences.  And McDonalds still sells a lot of burgers.  But not as many customers are stopping by – particularly those under the age of 40.  Until television news changes the menu – and all the processes behind it – the trend is going to continue.

Let’s not wait until everyone gets “McFired” to do something about it.

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Why You Need to Know about Facebook and “Dark Posts”

By Steve Schwaid, VP of Digital Strategies

We’re not talking about spies, James Bond look-alikes or the NSA.  Nope. It’s a little known tool on Facebook.

Facebook continues its exponential growth as an important tool for newsrooms to alert users of breaking news and weather — especially weather. Our research shows users increasingly depend on stations to provide weather information, especially severe weather, on their Facebook newsfeed.

Most newsrooms think there are two ways to push information to users.

1. Putting a story in the newsfeed with the hope Facebook will pass it through – understanding that based on the content, the way it’s written and the user’s previous reading habits on Facebook, that some content is passed along and others isn’t.

2. Sponsored posts. This is actually “buying a position” in the feed.

Obviously, the second way is a better way of getting the most out of Facebook, BUT you need to be careful of how you use sponsored feeds.

Something happened to me this week that demonstrated the main hazard of using sponsored posts. There’s no way to put a deadline on it, cutting off distribution.  When you use a sponsored post to promote specific coverage or alert users of a public safety issue, it’s not a good thing when Facebook sends it on AFTER you’ve aired the content you wanted to promote or the breaking news/weather event is over.

Monday we had severe weather where I work. I got my tornado alerts viwtspsvrwxa push notifications on my smart devices. But on Tuesday it was all clear, but then this (right) popped up in my newsfeed – as a sponsored post.

I immediately clicked on the link. It was what it appeared to be – a now obsolete post that Facebook had just pushed on my feed.

You don’t want users getting posts to watch something that already happened or alert them to a breaking weather event and have it show up a day or two later – it looks bad and hurts your credibility.

How does this happen?

I spoke directly with Facebook and asked if when buying a sponsored post you can place stop pushing the sponsored posts?

The answer is no. Sponsored posts do NOT have specific end times.

In fact, a sponsored post can continue running past when you had hoped it would end if the post is getting a lot of traction, friends of yours are viewing it or it’s a topic you have been interested in before. In this case, Facebook doesn’t know the event is over, they do know it has gotten a lot of traction and figures I would like to see it. In this case, wrong.

So if you’re going to use a sponsored post, as a precaution, you should put in a sponsored post day or date of the weather event or the specific show you are promoting so the user can quickly determine the relevance.

The Dark Post Alternative

So what do you do if you want a post to end at a specific time? There is a Facebook tool called “Dark Posts.” Dark Posts allow you to start and stop/make a post go dark.  Instead of buying a sponsored post for a sweeps story, a breaking news or weather alert you should seriously consider purchasing Dark Posts.

Here is a link on the value of a dark post and how to create them.

If we can help you with this, please give me a shout:

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shutterstock_209648002You can almost hear it. That clicking sound. It’s getting a bit louder every day. Can you hear it? Listen carefully. If you have spent time at an airport, a mall, or waiting in line to pay at the grocery store, then you’ve probably seen it or even been part of it.

It’s the sound of people on their mobile devices seeking out news and information and sharing what they’ve just read or watched.

They’re on local TV news apps. Sure, they may be on yours, but chances are they also have the apps of all the stations in the market.

Or they’re looking at their newsfeed on Facebook. There may be a post from your station about some story they decided to share. And chances are they’re also following your competition.

Or, they’re getting ready to download the soon-to-be-released HBOGO app for those who don’t have cable. Or they will soon have the CBS App so they can watch shows on their devices without cable and on their schedule in some cases.

That ticking sound? It’s the clock. It’s counting down. It has already reached zero for newspapers. They heard the clock but didn’t know what to do until it was too late.

One minute to midnightIf you as a news or station manager can’t hear the ticking and clicking sound, you’re not listening. Here at CJ&N, we just completed a major study of information seekers ages 25-40. What they’re doing and how they’re gathering news and content should scare you.

Newsrooms and stations need to change their content, newsgathering, staffing and digital posting processes now to meet users’ needs. News managers that won’t let content be posted until after a newscast airs are old school. (Yes, this still happens every day, possibly in your shop without you even knowing it.) They’re missing out on potential viewers and dollars. They’re ignoring the 25-40 demos and what they want and what they consume.)

If your newsroom doesn’t have a digital culture (and I’m not talking about posting a couple of stories on Facebook and tweeting about a fire), that ticking might also be a bomb. We’re talking about a real strategy about managing video on devices, daypart-driven mobile content and content creation. If you don’t have a plan that deals with these issues and how to monetize these platforms, then you don’t have a strategy.

Tick, click, tick, click.

Sure, if you’re retiring or leaving the business in 3-5 years – and don’t care about the business you’re leaving behind – you can wear the ear plugs.

If not, you need to do something soon. Because the ticking will soon reach zero, ready or not, and they will be clicking on someone else’s content.

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Adapting to Facebook’s Changing Rules

SchwaidBy Steve Schwaid, CJ&N Vice President of Digital Services

These days TV station managers understand how valuable and important Facebook is to reach users and viewers. But many find it a challenge to keep up with Facebook’s constantly changing rules and guidelines.

Well, fair warning, Facebook is making another change that will impact your news, sales and promotion departments.

Facebook wants to handcuff marketers and brand managers to keep them from creating special incentives to get people to like a page. The process has been called “Like Gating.”  For years, we have all been working to get users to like our pages, so your first reaction may be that this could put an end to that practice and force a complete strategy change. But as you dig down, it’s not as bad as you might think.

Facebook issued this statement about an upcoming change in November:

“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, check-in at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”

What does this really mean? With 1.3 billion users, is Facebook saying they have enough “likes”? No.

Will the new guidelines have impact? Yes, to some degree. But it should not stop you from running promotional or sales-driven contests.

We’ve reached out to a few third party providers who help many of you with your contests (Aptivada, Social News Desk and Second Street) and the main thing to know is that although you can no longer require participants to “Like” your page, you can still include a “Like” button on your entry forms.  This will still net a large group of new followers.

As you read the Facebook position, “It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, check-in at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page.”

But here is the key question for those of you doing Facebook contests: What is your Facebook strategy and your end goal of getting likes? 

Just saying the goal is to get more likes is an empty calorie strategy.  Your Facebook goals should be clear and actionable by your entire team from news to sales to promotion.

Possible answers in addition to increasing likes:

– Get more people to watch your TV product

– Get more people on your web platform

– Have more people get your content on their Facebook newsfeed.

Ideally, your goal should be all of the above, but right now you should be using Facebook to drive TV and digital consumption. If your goal is just getting likes, then you may want to review and redirect your strategy.

There are different strategies and tactics we can review with you. We highly recommend that you use Facebook to drive and incentivize TV viewing where you can get a direct ROI on your efforts. If you would like to review a Facebook strategy, please let us know.


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