WRAL Using Social TV to Inspire Community

It all started with the Executive Director of the Komen NC Triangle to the Coast affiliate asking if we could make her dream come true. Well, we do love a challenge at WRAL! We’re a station with community focused DNA, partnering with local agencies to bring real and sustained change to important issues. Komen wanted the Triangle Race for the Cure to be the most “social race” in the country. They had a hashtag in mind but needed us to figure out how to show all the people using it on social media on site during the Raleigh Race for the Cure.

10,000 Strong

2014 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure: 10,500 Strong

Immediately, I thought of Jenni Hogan and tagboard. Jenni and I share a passion for Social TV and have collaborated several times, first with WRAL as a beta station for her TV Interact product and later on WRAL’s first ever Social TV documentary #missionormoney. Tagboard is a live hashtag hub that aggregates content from twitter, facebook, instagram, vine, google+ and app.net. The tagboard dashboard is tabbed to toggle between LATEST posts (all posts coming in using the hashtag), and FEATURED posts (posts you choose to be seen on the public board). This gives you ultimate control of what content goes ‘live’ on your board. We practiced with it for about two weeks and it worked beautifully onsite at the event. We set up two Samsung 70 inch touchscreen monitors. Next time, I’d like an 80-100+ inch video wall meant to be viewed outside! Can I get a sponsor for that?

Building it for Live TV Because the full suite of products had not been used on TV before, we had a learning curve. The tagboard engineers and designers collaborated with the WRAL graphics team for a good result.We debuted the live touchscreen mode, fullscreen automated and became the first station to use the live, automated lower third super.

Marketing It We named our baby the “Social Inspiration Board.” Our partners at the Komen NC Triangle to the Coast affiliate started promoting usage of the hashtag about two weeks before the event in email blasts, on their web site and social media. WRAL created social share graphics that both the station and Komen posted to our social networks:

Created and posted on twitter, facebook and instagram

Created and posted on twitter, facebook and instagram

Komen posted “how to” photos to twitter, facebook and instagram:

Helping teach people how to participate!

Helping teach people how to participate!

We ran static, as well as Jivox interactive, web ads on WRAL.com:

A variety of web ad sizes give us maximum exposure on wral.com

A variety of web ad sizes gives us maximum exposure on wral.com and WRAL mobile.

Jivox interactive web ad includes live twitter widget.

Jivox interactive web ad includes live twitter widget.

We promoted on air during newscasts in the week leading up to the race, and the Social Inspiration Board was a key part of our live coverage on race day.

Results #KomenTri trended on twitter in Raleigh for 11 hours. It was the top hashtag for the day on #tagboard in Seattle. “The WRAL campaign trended online for 11 hours, the reach Shelly and her team got for #KomenTri could have easily been over 6 million people with the impressions even higher than that,” Jenni Hogan, Chief Media Officer of #tagboard.

KomenNCTC’s facebook page saw a 453% increase in fans, and a 328% increase in reach. Tagboard reports 660 unique posts, not including shared posts. Twitter made up half of these posts, with Instagram and Facebook making up the other half.

It’s important to not ignore those platforms in live events, as the combination can exponentially increase exposure. We could clearly see a spike in posts during live television coverage that used the live lower third serving as a call to action for people not at the event to get involved by sending messages of inspiration to those participating. Considering, we debuted the Saturday of the Men’s US Open (being played in North Carolina!), the NBA Finals and USA World Cup Soccer … we’re more than pleased with the social results. Oh and the end game for our partners at Komen:

Raised a million dollars for breast cancer research and support.

Raised a million dollars for breast cancer research and support.

Social TV is changing the game. You can drive viewers to your content on all your platforms using social media. You can dominate the social chatter in your market with a coordinated effort that includes on air, social and web promotion. Cable channels are doing it and getting big results, so can the locals. We have the opportunity right now to create self-sustaining audiences using content that engages their values. If you’re not experimenting, get started! Complete web/tv coverage of the this event: http://www.wral.com/thousands-put-on-pink-to-race-for-the-cure/13733742/

UPDATE: “WRAL Hosts Most Social Race in the U.S.” TVNewscheck MarketShare article by Paul Greeley 

UPDATE: Team WRAL — a team open to the public to join our on air talent – was the largest corporate team in the race and raised $11,388.

Making Live TV With Google Glass

Google Glass wasn’t built for broadcasting live TV. We don’t know if any other television station has attempted it.

What is it?  Google Glass is a wearable, voice-controlled computer with an optical head-mounted display and built in video camera. Glass delivers an augmented reality image to the wearer. It can search the internet, answer dictated questions, take pictures, and record video.

WRAL Traffic Anchor Brian Shrader wearing Google Glass

WRAL Traffic Anchor Brian Shrader wearing Google Glass

The question was: could it be used to broadcast live TV?

WRAL-TV, the CBS affiliate in Raleigh, NC,  and parent company Capitol Broadcasting Company have a legacy of innovation. We LOVE a challenge like this one.

It started by registering with Google as a developer to try to get our hands on the technology. That was taking too long, so WRAL engineer Tony Gupton suggested we get them the way anyone gets the most obscure of objects: eBAY! WRAL Chief of Engineering and Operations Pete Sockett scored and the race was on. How quickly could we learn how it works, figure out how to route the video signal from it to live TV, brainstorm and implement a plan for a continuous live feed for WRAL.com, design on air and web graphics, put together a 4 day broadcast plan, develop and launch a marketing plan to promote the weeklong #WRALGlass event? The answer: 5 days. It takes a village, people.

WRAL Engineer Tony Gupton was lead teacher and problem solver.

WRAL Engineer Tony Gupton was lead teacher and problem solver.

WRAL Director James Ford and Lead Designer Steve Loyd work on presentation

WRAL Director of News Operations James Ford and Lead Designer Steve Loyd work on presentation.

WRAL Traffic anchor Brian Shrader learning to operate Google Glass

WRAL Traffic anchor Brian Shrader learning to operate Google Glass.

WRAL Director of News Operations James Ford setting up the switcher.

WRAL Director of News Operations James Ford setting up the switcher.

Output of WRAL control room #1 put Glass on TV, output of WRAL control room #2 streamed continuous output from Glass on WRAL.com.

Output of WRAL control room #1 put Glass on TV, output of WRAL control room #2 streamed continuous output from Glass on WRAL.com. TV viewers saw a picture in picture display.

Once we had the technology and were figuring out how to operate it, we had to decide what to do with it on air. WRAL Station Manager Jim Rothschild had the idea to have different members of the morning team wear Glass so viewers could see and hear different points of view.

WRAL’s 30-year veteran Morning News anchor Bill Leslie broke the news that he would be first.

@wralbleslie breaks the news on twitter

@wralbleslie breaks the news on twitter

Bill’s viewpoint gave the audience a chance to see what Bill sees, from the crew chief’s directions, to three robotic cameras, to his co-anchors eating snacks during the commercial breaks. Day one of the #WRALGlass experiment was an eye opener! Bill’s commentary was priceless and we learned that head movements are really exaggerated with Glass.

Watch and listen to news anchor Bill Leslie’s live eye view

Viewers rarely ever see or hear the studio crew chief, or even know what his job is. WRAL’s Stuart Todd promised managers a “show” when he stepped up to take on #WRALGlass and he delivered.

Watch and listen to crew chief Stuart Todd’s live eye view

During a live newscast, the producer is like air traffic control landing six planes at once. WRAL producer Kianey Carter’s day in #WRALGlass will make you appreciate the quick thinking, clear headed, multitaskers that these folks are. Rockstars behind the scenes!

Watch and listen to producer Kianey Carter’s live eye view

Finally, WRAL traffic anchor Brian Shrader, the sparkplug of WRAL’s morning news, a bundle of energy and fun.

Watch and listen to traffic anchor Brian Shrader’s live eye view

Here’s a combined stream of what viewers saw on air and what viewers simultaneously saw on WRAL.com:


Because so many people don’t know what Google Glass is or what it does, we took a conversational approach to the TV promotion, using the news anchors to demonstrate it. We also felt it was important to show viewers what they’d be seeing during the broadcast. We created web ads to promote #WRALGlass on WRAL.com. We generated more than 480k impressions on twitter using #WRALGlass and got some national press for the experiment.

Article in Broadcasting & Cable     Article in TVNewscheck

Overall, a win for innovation and a win for viewers to see a whole new perspective of local television news through Google Glass.

UPDATE on Feb 17, 2014: WRALTechWire Article

UPDATE on Feb 18, 2104: Stats just in from WRAL.com show 11,000 online video views of WRAL’s Google Glass experiment.

How Local TV Covers Snowmageddon in the South

This isn’t Minnesota. A few inches of snow in North Carolina quickly gets named Snowmageddon on twitter and warrants wall-to-wall television coverage.  Here’s how we do it at WRAL-TV, the CBS affiliate in Raleigh.

From the moment of the four letter forecast, it’s all hands on deck. Managers mobilize their departments to both do their jobs and support the news department in getting / covering the story.

Every single person in the television station “unofficially transfers” to the News department. Accountants become snow desk volunteers. Sales execs become shuttle drivers getting crews to and from nearby hotels. Every person with a camera of any kind becomes a photographer.  Department heads and staffers from other divisions in our parent company Capitol Broadcasting  work the 24/7 social media response team. Our goal is personal service. Be helpful. Be a resource. Be a lifeline in every possible way.

WRAL-TV Facebook page

60+ WRAL staffers tweet

We look for every technology available to get stories, pictures and videos to air. We used Skype to get a liveshot on with Jackie Hyland, one of our main news anchors, who was stuck in her car for nearly four hours.

WRAL News anchor Jackie Hylands details her 4 hour traffic nightmare on the way to work.

WRAL News anchor Jackie Hylands details her 4 hour traffic nightmare on the way to work.

Especially on days like today, you need to be able to broadcast live from anywhere. Drive5, is our new mobile dashcam fleet (with its own twitter account) that allows us to broadcast live from absolutely anywhere. One of the most incredible video feeds came from a dashcam mounted in a news car traveling along Glenwood Avenue, a main thoroughfare in the city that was absolutely crippled by abandoned cars.

We used a new ipad app @TVInteract to move live tweets with pics to air without having to add graphic support.

The WRAL.com tech team in Raleigh keeps the site humming. They’ve built an incredible backend so the servers don’t even breathe hard, easily handling web traffic at more than a million page views an hour. Web editors are scheduled around the clock, each assigned to a reporter/photographer team to move content quickly to the web, mobile apps and social media. Other editors are assigned specific tasks like moving viewer submitted pictures from various platforms to web and TV and publishing multiple live streams.

The Video Central section on the top of the homepage at WRAL.com lists multiple live streams throughout the day and night.

The Video Central section on the top of the homepage at WRAL.com lists multiple live streams throughout the day and night.

The station website recently relaunched a responsive design that changes the layout of the site as the story gets bigger. Any site format change on the main site gets automatically mirrored on the mobile apps. If you haven’t seen responsive design yet, check it out

Design changes to accommodate huge stories like a snowstorm

Design changes to accommodate huge stories like a snowstorm

In the promotion department, we follow the tone of the story as it unfolds. Some snow storms are lighthearted and some, like this one, are more serious. Our plan completely changed as the story changed into dangerous gridlock. We start capturing sound from air in the early morning hours. We produce quick spots that deliver on our core mission to serve. We focus on what makes WRAL coverage unique.

Over and over, every time in a crisis, North Carolina proves it has heart. Neighbors help neighbors. Good Samaritans outnumber the complainers. The kindness in people emerges and our community makes me very proud to be a native.

Read awesome stories of people helping people

Broadcasting live 32.5 hours of 36 requires an army of WRAL staffers, steaming on WRAL.com and multiple mobile apps, simulcasting on sister radio station MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM, and sister TV station WILM, posting information and responding to questions on facebook and twitter 24/7…That’s how WRAL does it.

So here’s to you, North Carolina, for taking it on the chin like a champ. WRAL is here to help you #StaySafe.

Super Bowl Ads: LIKE, LOVE, FAIL part 2

SuperBowl “Brandbowl”  part two. Remember the rules: one impression, no rewinding, watch it and score it:


Budweiser “A Hero’s Welcome”

WOW. Just wow. “Every soldier deserves a hero’s welcome.” This spot wins in every possible way. The only thing I want now is for the massive corporation that is Budweiser to do something with their cajillions to make sure every hero actually gets one. LOVE.

Heinz Ketchup “Hum”

If you’re happy and you know it, tap, tap…the ketchup . This is a sticky (memorable), fun spot with great payoff. Grandma wins in the end. Though I do wonder how much of their revenue still comes from glass bottles versus plastic. Picky point. LOVE.

Chrysler “America Import”

Like much of Bob Dylan’s music, I didn’t understand some of the lyrics, but the message — the message worked. Chrysler is Detroit. It’s America. It’s pride. The spot made me feel good , made me want to buy American. Although, I have no idea what the Chrysler 200 looks like. LIKE.

Microsoft “Empowering”

Beautiful emotion. They’re selling technology as the connection to love, emotion, family and all the things we want in life. Emotional branding at its best. The most brilliant part of the spot? Using computer generated audio as the voice over. Just well done. LOVE.

Budweiser Puppy Love

Everything that needs to be said about this spot has already been said. It has everything you want a great ad to have. Great storytelling. Emotional connection. PUPPIES and a great payoff. Would it have been even better with a mutt puppy than a “thoroughbred?” Whatever. LOVE.

My big winner: Budweiser all the way around. The puppies + the heroes = marketing gold. 

How about you? Who did you LIKE, LOVE, FAIL?

A note about hashtags. The big agencies have missed the boat here. I think I saw a stat that said 49 spots used hashtags. Which ones do you remember? Most were an afterthought, not part of the core message. It needs to make sense, be memorable or have a reason for being there or it just adds noise. The two that I remember: FOX’s #JackIsBack, and tweet #esurance30 to win money. #winning.

Super Bowl Ads: LIKE, LOVE, FAIL part 1

There will be plenty written from the analysts about which Super Bowl ads were the big winners. Here are my rules: I get one impression, no rewinding, gut reaction, then I score it. (**Note: I went back later and added the videos)

Let’s play:


Ford “Double”

I like the marketing tactic of buying a :30, followed by a :60. More screen time breaks up the clutter. One clear message “Ford Fusion has double the gas mileage.” It does the marketing job by repeating the message over and over, but no one will be talking about it tomorrow. Oh and the whole Rob Riggle / James Franco thing — distraction to the message. Why do that? You got James Franco. Just let him be JAMES FRANCO. It could have worked but wasn’t a homerun.

Maserati “Strike”

Great copy. That little girl is brilliant. Powerful imagery. Wait…Maserati? What? Let’s appeal to the underdogs to sell a super luxury car. Groan. What were they thinking!? Either people will talk about (and be offended by) the disconnect or they won’t remember the product. Negative either way. FAIL.
Doritos “Time Machine”

Great characters. Great storytelling. “Jimmy?? You’re so old!” Super simple spot that didn’t cost a zillion dollars to make. Doritos has been riding this storytelling technique to the bank. Did you see the Golden Retriver digging in the bag?  LOVE
Chevy & The Bull “Romance”

It had everything going for it…great copy, a character (the Bull!) you love, memorable music..then UGH..the horrible tag line! “Strong for all the roads ahead” — ruined the whole spot! FAIL. I hate tag lines.
Beats “ellen”

Who doesn’t love Ellen? I would watch it over and over again just to watch her dance. Enough said. I’m not quite sure what a Beats music plan is, however, I’m probably not the demo target. LIKE.
(why can’t I find this video posted by Hyundai on youtube?)
Dads save their kids! It had everything. Visual scenarios every parent can relate to. Rule of threes (twice!), sticky music, emotional connection, ONE LINE of copy! Less is more. LOVE.
squarespace “A better web is coming”

Personifying the internet!  Love the concept. They captured it brilliantly. Makes me want to see it again and again to see all the characters they’ve created: SHARE ME! LIKE ME! CLICK HERE! REFINANCE! I hope they follow it up with what this “new internet” is. LOVE
Radioshack – New stores

“The 80s called they want their store back!” Message: our stores suck. we’re making new ones. I’ll remember that (and that MaryLou Retton lookalike), but it won’t make me shop there. Just because you’ll look like Apple, doesn’t make you Apple. LIKE.
Chevy – Cancer Day

Storytelling is everything. You start thinking she’s so sad. He looks worried. Then the sun peeks over the horizon and hope takes over.  So much emotion without any words. LOVE IT. However, the web address on the end of the spot has no connection to it. What does purple roads mean? I suspect there’s some sort of social campaign there, but they totally missed driving that point home. Too bad, could’ve been a homerun.
T-Mobile “Tim Tebow”

“Contracts are limiting. We’ll buy you out of yours.” Good concept. Simple message. Perfect spokesman for it. LIKE.
Volkswagon “Angel Wings”

LOVE IT!! LOVE IT! LOVE IT. Memorable, totally realistically delivered visual. One message. VWs are 100,000 mile cars, with the occasional 200,000 milers that make German engineers shoot rainbows out of their butts. Boom. My fav of the night so far. LOVE.

I was so distracted by David Beckham’s, well – everything, that I don’t even know how I feel about this ad. Does H&M sell only men’s underwear? Is the target audience for this young girls? I know plenty of women my age who lust after him who would NEVER shop at H&M. “Sex sells” ..it’s so 90s.  Moving on.
Coca Cola “America is Beautiful”

Celebrate the diversity of America. Period. LOVE. I predict this one will generate some controversy.
Notice how the :60s just stand out from the clutter. 
Monsanto  (interesting..I cannot find this commercial anywhere on youtube. hmm)
If I didn’t know how this company was raping the American food supply, I might be moved by their “Moms rule the world” message. I think I’m going to throw up. FAIL.
Jeep “Restless”

Jeep letting you scratch your itch for adventure. For all the people who have an unending restlessness to go, run, move, play, explore. This is an emotional branding pitch well done. LIKE

My big winner from the first half (other than the Seahawks): Volkswagon.
Who’d you LIKE, LOVE, FAIL?
Stay tuned for the second half… 

Nielsen’s List of Most Memorable Ads of 2013

Nielsen’s List of Most Memorable Ads of 2013

I call total BULL on this list. How in the world can Geico’s “Hump Dayyyyy” ad not be on this list?

Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. What day is it?

Ridiculously funny. That’s the most parroted ad since the Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” ads of 1984.

What’s your most memorable ad of the year?