Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WJMA,, VAB - How to unFAIL

Wondering about how to handle updates on the Interwebtubes? Read on.

Yesterday I commented on the lack of coverage for the Virginia Association of Broadcasters (VAB) awards -- from the VAB and one of the recipients, WJMA.

It's easy to point out something gone wrong. It's a little harder -- yet far more productive -- to offer up some solutions. Here is mine.

How the VAB should promote their awards.

1) Post the results on the VAB website (and home page) immediately after the announcement at the conference. This should not be difficult. The winners have already been determined. Just cut and past the list to the home page -- or better yet, have it hidden, ( is the appropriate HTML code, btw) , and just have someone make it live. It should take about two minutes.

2) New media is like working in a sausage factory: it's all about the links. Said list should, at the very least, have a link to all of the winners' websites. Make the call letters the link. It drives traffic to the stations, which gives them an additional benefit for being a VAB member and an award winner.

3) Have a graphic for the award. There should be a simple graphic for the VAB award that winning stations can post on their website. This graphic should come with a link back to a part of the VAB site that explains what the award is, and the criteria for winning. It's good for the stations to have such an image for their homepage, and it helps raise awareness of the award -- good for the VAB.

How WJMA should promote their awards.

Let's assume that the VAB won't be doing their part, so there's no graphic to place on the WJMAFM.com homepage. There are still some very simple, yet effective, things WJMA can do to promote their win (and help themselves in the process).

1) Have a text announcement with a link to the News page. Suggested text:

"Congratulations to Phil Goodwin for winning the 2009 Best Feature Reporting and Best Newscast, Small Market Radio Awards from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters."

At the very least, this will help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for anyone searching for "VAB, award, 2009" This should take 5-10 minutes.

2) Build an awards page. This will take longer, but well worth the investment. WJMA has a long and distinguished history of winning awards for their news coverage. It's one thing to have a wall covered in trophies that no one can see (although you can kind of see them behind Phil's portrait). It's another to put it all out on the web where everyone can.

At the very least, you could have a simple laundry list in a grid of the dates, awards won, and the winning journalist and story. But it shouldn't stop there.

Whenever possible, there should be a link from the title of the award-winning story to an MP3 of said story. Now to go back and fill in 20+ years of these stories would take quite a bit of time and probably won't be at the top of anyone's "to-do" list. But what about this year's entry?

Phil Goodwin had to create an audio file to submit to the VAB judges, Why not post that on the website? Most of the work's already done. And while creating a full-blown awards web page would take time, for now, a simple text-based page shouldn't take more than an hour. Here's a serving suggestion (this took about ten minutes, thanks to ISSDNTek)


2009VABPhil GoodwinBest Feature Reporting, Small Market Radio"Dog Finds Wallet"

Phil GoodwinBest Newscast, Small Market RadioNoon News, 1/15/09

(The links aren't real - it's just to give you the idea.)

Now why is this important? Simple. Ad $$$$.

I could say this is an "award-winning" blog. And it is. I just gave it the "C.E. Conversations Award for Best Blog Written by Two People Named Ken and Ralph."

Big deal.

"Award-winning" is vague and meaningless. A link to a string of real awards by professional organizations is something else again. And if you're trying to persuade someone to sponsor your newscasts, it's a great way to show the value of the investment.

One final thing. I'd change the artwork for the podcast. OK, WJMA still don't have artwork for the podcast, but let's say they had something like the graphic below. (Pretty snazzy, eh? It took about ten minutes with Photoshop.)

I would simply add a line below it, (like I did on the graphic below) and then the award would be front and center on everyone's iPod, or MP3 player, or media player.

(That addition took five minutes. The secret is to save the original as a PSD, so you keep all the layers. Then it's very easy to make changes -- next year I could just change the text to read "2010 VAB Award-winner" and start using that graphic.)

So there it is, some constructive suggestions on how to get the word out without using a lot of money or human resources. And if anyone from Piedmont Communications is reading this, please feel free to copy and paste those images.

I'd love to end the WJMA podwatch!

- Ralph

Day 85 of the WJMA Podwatch.

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