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FYI

Hits & Misses in Media's Battlefield For Attention (Op-Ed)

Weighting the interests of your target audience is the essence of being successful in media today.

Hits & Misses in Media's Battlefield For Attention (Op-Ed)
Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

It’s a battlefield for attention. In the ultra-competitive world of information, it is essential to use every available tool to determine which stories will be successful.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend editorial meetings at some of the largest newspapers in America. I was quite disappointed to see that there was a lack of sophistication in their approach. The meetings seemed to be conducted in a free-form manner, with no structured systems in place. While there is a certain charm to the spontaneity of generating story ideas and engaging in discussions, it was clear that there was no scientific approach to balance the emotions in the room.


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In simpler terms, these newspapers did not have any systems in place to ensure that the stories they published were the right ones for their target audience.

In the past, during the era of competitive radio, successful stations would play the hits as well as the up-and-coming hits based on the specific audience they were trying to dominate. It was like a naval battle, where a hit strikes the enemy ship and a non-hit misses. Strike the ship with enough hits would lead to its sinking. Every direct strike was crucial, while non-hit songs were considered misses. Misses are wasted opportunities. Are competitors hitting the ship more often?

This concept applies to most competitive businesses that aim to appeal to a mass audience. Even the menu of a fast food chain like McDonald's consists of popular items mixed with new items that have high potential. The number of misses is usually minimal.

The same principle can be applied to news stories. It is important to focus on stories that are of intense interest to the target audience. However, at the newspaper I observed, there was no scientific approach to balance the emotional aspect. In the ultra-competitive world of information, it is essential to use every available tool to determine which stories will be successful.

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I took notes during those editorial meetings and later compared them to the stories that generated a great deal of interest. It was clear that many of the important stories that developed were not necessarily the ones being pitched and used during the meetings.

Perhaps the news and information media can learn from other businesses that cannot afford to present anything less than the most important to the target. While emotion and intuition are important, it is equally crucial to utilize all available tools to ensure that the stories are accurately hitting the mark.

The definition of "hits" may vary depending on the target audience, and in today's niche and target-focused environment, it is necessary to have a deep understanding of exactly who the target audience is.

Successful information services play the hits and have the discipline to explore new stories that align perfectly with the unique demographics and psychographics of their audience.

People’s time has never been as crunched as it is today. There’s simply no time for misses. There are too many opportunities to find something more appealing if a story doesn’t click.

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Lee Abrams is an American media executive who has consultant over 1,000 radio stations, 12 major print publications, over 20 TV stations and cable networks and is generally credited with developing the Album Oriented Rock format. He regularly writes media-related posts and podcasts, some of which can be found on his MediaVision website. The following opinion piece is published with his approval.

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The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024

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