How To Get More Media Coverage of Your Positive Events – Be The Kicker!
One of the easiest ways I know of to garner positive television news coverage is to ‘be the kicker’. Logically, your first question is, “What in the world is a kicker?” The kicker, in television news parlance, is that cute, funny, heartwarming, bizarre or otherwise unusual story that is delivered right at the end of almost every local newscast.
The importance of the kicker cannot be overestimated because it is of extreme value not only to you, but also to the television station.
A bit of ‘kicker’ history if you will. When I began my television career in the mid-seventies, television consultants were just coming on the scene advising stations on how to attract viewers by branding their newscasts with names like Eyewitness News and Action News.
The television station I worked for, WOWK-TV in Huntington, West Virginia was just the second station in the country to be Action News, the creation of the guru groundbreaking news consultant Frank N. Magid in Marion, Iowa. I won’t go into detail about Magid’s Action News formula or the psychology behind it, but I will tell you the psychology behind the ‘kicker’ and how you can take advantage of it.
Magid advised his client stations that while the first 29:30 of the newscast was certainly important, the kicker was the most important story of the entire newscast. Magid said that it didn’t matter how much crime, scandal, blood, politics and corruption you threw at viewers for 29:30 – it was the kicker – the last 30 seconds “that you send ’em to bed with.”
Magid did enough research on audience psychology to know that if we ended the show with the warm, fuzzy, cute or unusual kicker, that’s all the audience would remember and despite being assaulted with 29:30 of visual bedlam, the carefully crafted and positioned kicker would cause viewers to essentially say, “That was a nice newscast. I think I’ll come back to that station tomorrow.” This is ratings gold!
So now that you understand how important the kicker is to the television station, imagine what it would do for your company, organization or cause to be featured as the kicker story. And let me tell you, stations are always looking for kickers!
Many television stations are producing three, four and sometimes even five newscasts per day. They need lots of kickers! One of the first questions our producers ask in our daily news meetings is, “What do we have for kickers?”
The answer usually is, “We’re hurtin’ today. We’re workin’ on it.” What kind of stories would qualify as a kicker?
Here are just a few examples: A groundbreaking, a health fair at your company, when your departments hold a penny-collecting competition for the American Heart Association, when the CEO or school principal gets his head shaved as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, when a mother duck and ducklings have taken up residence in your company’s outdoor fountain or pool or when your company is having a bake sale to raise money for Toys For Tots.
You get the idea – lighthearted, fun stuff that leaves the newscast and your organization’s image on a high note.
If you think you’ve got a kicker, contact the media. It’s free and positive publicity!
About The Author
Tom Zalaski is a television news anchorman who has spent nearly 35 years behind the anchor desk. He’s there at the daily news meetings where the decisions are made as to what will and what will not make it onto that evening’s newscasts. Tom’s latest book, ‘How To Manipulate The Media For Fun And Profit’ is an inside look at how to deal with the media in times of crisis and how to get them to cover your positive news. Learn more about it. ‘How To Manipulate the Media For Fun and Profit’ is available now at http://www.tomzalaski.com and on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.