Since the internet exploded into our daily lives, broadcast news has been thrust into a never-ending cycle of new digital strategies — like a person wanting to lose weight jumping onto today’s hot new diet.
Jim Spiewak is an Anchor-Reporter for KUTV, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s CBS affiliate in Salt Lake City, Utah. He says he’s found the secret to standing out amidst all the digital choices — you can’t just be a generalist, stretching yourself thin and reporting on any and all topics to shallow results. Viewers are loyal to specialists.
“I think that really helps set you apart and build that brand,” Spiewak said. “That’ll help take you into this new age of media…that’s evolving and changing so quickly.”
Spiewak’s specialty is addiction, and he is a part of the team behind a recurring TV segment called “Addicted Utah,” a deep dive into drugs and drug-related stories. The station says: “Addicted Utah is in the early stages and preliminary data shows positive signs.”
“Now granted everyone reports on opioids, but most people just report on the overdose deaths,” Spiewak said. “We wanted to go way beyond the headline. In our very first ‘Addicted Utah’ report, we reported on the people that overdosed and lived.”
He uses social media to promote this specialty segment by dropping teasers — a “dance” as he calls it, between wanting to attract digital-only viewers and not giving away the whole story and hurting the TV ratings.
“You got to go to where the people are, and the people are on social media,” Spiewak said. “The trick is to give them little bite size pieces throughout the day to nibble on and then to convince them…to tune in to the newscast to find out the rest.”
As his “specialty” brand grew, followers began pitching their own ideas.
“It’s all about engagement so they don’t think that you’re a robot,” Spiewak said. “Sometimes they have information that you don’t know, and it turns into an [exclusive story] for you.”
Spiewak covers a story suggested by one of his Facebook followers.
Spiewak often broadcasts his Facebook Live over KUTV’s account rather than his own.
“We’ve got close to 400,000 people on that page, and you’re getting out in front of more eyeballs than I have on my personal page,” Spiewak said. “And I say, ‘Hey… if you want more updates on the story or if you want news continuously throughout the day, head over to my social media pages.’ That is a great little technique…I use to build the brand up.”
His advice to other reporters? Find a topic that is under-served and cover it better than anyone else in town–plain and simple.
“Find an issue in your community…and start asking questions about it and then put it out there on all the platforms,” Spiewak said. “And if you have the best content, I feel like your content will win out, and the eyeballs will follow.”
Do you know an anchor, reporter or meteorologist who is creatively using social media and deserves to be featured in our next Social Media Spotlight? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll check out the story.
Get the Lab Report: The most important stories delivered to your inbox