5 ways broadcasters are facing down business challenges related to COVID-19


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many local news broadcasters have shown they understand that the shortest route to survival is in helping community businesses. This has involved developing new databases and landing pages, as well as specific packages and marketing plans for advertisers. 

In the new Accelerate Local report, Sustainable solutions for local media in the time of COVID-19, authored by LMA Consultant Brooke Warner, executives from local media share novel ways their companies are adapting their business models during the pandemic with a focus on providing service to the communities.

Here we share five revenue-generating bright ideas specifically from local broadcasters that have helped drive revenue and strengthen relationships with clients. 

1. Beasley Media Group expands ad offerings with Keep Calm Carry Out program. 

“For a small, flat weekly rate (per station) local restaurants can get streaming spots (at discount rates) to promote their take out menu and services, and be listed on our dedicated microsite,” said Rik Ferrell, interactive sales manager, Beasley Media Group – Southwest Florida. “We have made it weekly because we don’t want anyone to feel that they have to commit to something longer with everything changing so quickly. If the restaurant has no money, we’re still going to list it with links to their site, but they won’t get any spots. This gives the restaurants another option, and takes advantage of our uptick in traffic. Our local chambers of commerce have pushed this out to their memberships and we’ve had a strong response so far, and many thank-yous.” 

2. Nexstar Media Group enables and encourages staff to share ideas and examples of what’s working across advertisers.

“Since ideas are the new currency, we’ve stepped on the gas on idea-sharing, putting in extra effort and technology to enable the cross-pollination of the ideas that are working,” said Bill Caudill, VP of digital media sales, Nexstar Media Group. “This goes a long way to reinforcing the idea that advertisers are actually still buying. Our sellers can see the examples with their own eyes, and not just hear about it anecdotally. Further, this sharing puts collective information in everyone’s hands and builds empathy. Speaking of empathy, we found it’s important that for both customers and sellers, be sure to be super sensitive and make sure people understand that you are trying to help when you share ideas.”

3. WRAL hosts helpful webinars for small businesses 

“We’re using technology and content to offer key information, advice and guidance to our community through a webinar series, said John Conway, vice president, WRAL Digital at Capitol Broadcasting Co. “We’re bringing in our business reporter and tech-editor to disseminate critical information. For example, we just did one webinar on the SBA loans encouraging people to get in early on the first round which we think will go fast. Others cover a wide range of topics unemployment, taxes, etc. While this might be a little out of the ordinary, the thinking is the same; we’re still working to deliver the information and advice everyone needs, but now we’re focused on that which helps businesses and people to weather the storm. In both cases it keeps us engaged with our community.”

4. Heartland Media / Allen Media Broadcasting focuses on industries still doing business, especially automobile, restaurant, home services, and home health.

Roofing companies and HVAC are largely serviced outside, and since people are home, it’s something that can be done well outside of six feet distances — especially if billing is done by mail or online,” said Lisa Bishop, chief digital officer, Heartland Media / Allen Media. “Many nurseries and greenhouses will do curbside deliveries. We’ve begun offering email campaigns for home improvement. We’ve also started looking at a virtual Home Show, much like what we’ve done for restaurants and if we move forward will be using it as a lead generation model.”

5. Nexstar Media is pivoting to competitive and fun alternatives to sports and Olympics coverage. 

For our group-wide NCAA Brackets, we pivoted to using the Second Street platform, moving to voting brackets for the ‘Best Chicago Athlete of All Times.’ In cases like these, creativity can save the day,” Caudill said. “With our communications-focused pivot, we find we’re even busier than ever before – we’ve got 46 states, 1,800 sales people, all getting up to speed at the same level with Zoom and other technologies to get the remote selling going. The results are coming to fruition. We may not be growing, but we’re not falling behind because we’ve mitigated the challenge by moving quickly to use communications and technology on the digital end.

“Hopefully it’ll go back to the way it was, but, the additional challenges we’ve been put under have improved our skills and abilities to be able to be more savvy in technology, and in working, communicating, and selling remotely.”

Download the full report, Sustainable solutions for local media in the time of COVID-19, to read more from these and other local media executives finding revenue and solutions during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Find more resources for local media businesses on our R&D help page.