You know the stereotypical tag line when breaking news happened back in the day. The authoritative news anchor would come on and give some background and then end with “Film at 11” to get you to watch the late local news.
That may have worked in an unplugged world, but in 2012 you can’t hook like that. Old media can’t bait the viewer to tune in later for information on breaking news, there are just too many sources for information.
Witness today’s breaking story of the Keystone XL pipeline being denied by the US government. Sue French, a CTV Calgary reporter, broke the news on twitter and tried to bait viewers for her newscast:
Keystone Xl pipeline denied. Official from US state department. More at 5.30 on CTV news
— CTVSueFrench (@CTVSueFrench) January 18, 2012
This is the classic ‘film at eleven’ hook. She teased with the headline and then asked viewers to come back for more information later. Two decades ago she would have received an A+ from her broadcasting school instructor and a pat on the back from her news director. In 2012 she failed her network miserably.
All this hook did was bait me to seek out information elsewhere. Why should I have to wait 4 hours to get the details? Within seconds of this tweet there were dozens of stories online including a full transcript from the company denied the pipeline.
A story posted to the website with details beyond a 140 character tweet would have been simple to craft. A couple of sentences with a tag on that story encouraging viewership at 5:30 would have sufficed.
By linking to your own website you keep the traffic internal. You bolster your brand as a source for breaking news and you keep the searches to your site. There’s no need for me to Google the breaking news.
Meanwhile, Shirlee Engel, a reporter with Global, used Twitter to blast out details as they became available.
— Shirlee Engel (@ShirleeEngel) January 18, 2012
For Engel, Twitter became a reporting platform, not a place to blast out hooks for her broadcast.
News wants to be free and if you try to lock it up, you lose. Unless you have a locked and loaded exclusive story that nobody else has details on, you can’t use ‘film at eleven’ as a hook because the internet will tell me now.