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Online News Branding

Anyone can instantly spot a television news crew when they arrive to cover a story. The news crews are always driving in a vehicle clearly labeled with their station's logo. And if there was any questions after one spots the station's logo, when the news crew gets out of their vehicle, the news photographer's big and impressive camera lets everyone know that TV news is “in the house.” The icing on the cake is always the station's flashy logo atop a microphone that is thrust in front of interviewees by the TV news reporter.

These days a lengthy conversation is sometimes needed to explain to others that you are there to record moving pictures for a news story. It's the type of explanation that probably hasn't been given since the newsreel days of the 1930s. Today an individual in jeans and a t-shirt may be pulling up to a press conference with a consumer video camera. Unless the individuals they are covering know who they are, the reporter may have a lot of explaining to do. This new trend is of course due to an increase in web journalists, the advent of one-man-band reporting and an increase in the use of freelancers.

Remember the saying, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression?” TV news crews produce the biggest first impression and exhibit the largest wow factor of any type of reporter (especially when they're rolling up in a live truck). The less the wow factor, the less willing some people are to talk. Most people are excited about being on TV for a few seconds, but not too many people get as excited about being in a video report on a news website. The loss of the wow factor isn't just in web news. The decline can also be felt in television news as stations and networks move to one-man-band/backpack journalists.

The lack of wow factor can be demoralizing for a reporter. For years television journalists have felt that they are underpaid, but the fact that their job was considered prestigious was an acceptable tradeoff for many. Nowadays some believe that the prestige of the job is being stripped away when they have to one-man-band.

As some fight this new trend, there are others who have recently graduated from school who expect to be pounding the pavement in their own car and one-man-banding. Those individuals don't have to worry about losing that prestige, because they never experienced “the good old days.”

Those who are dismayed by the new backpack journalist/one-man-band trend, will have to deal with this issue for the foreseeable future. However, there are some cost-effective things that can be done to help reporters become more easily identifiable. These ideas will not produce a wow factor, but they will help interviewees instantly recognize who they are talking to.

Giving reporters, even freelancers clothing, hats and umbrellas with your news organization's logo on it can be very helpful. Putting your logo on mic flags and video equipment can also help individuals identify who the reporter is working for. Bags and backpacks with your logo can also give a news organization a branding boost. I have seen some news organizations slap big magnets on the side of their employees personal vehicles, but be careful doing this. It sometimes makes your reporters car look more like a pizza delivery vehicle.

Reporters want to be a part of a news organization that cares about their image and branding, and viewers and readers like to attach themselves to a brand they can trust. Increasing your news organization's branding in the field could be just what your reporters and your audience are looking for.

About the author:

Christopher Michael McHugh’s Company, McQ Marketing Group, focuses on content marketing with an emphasis on video. Other services offered include social media, advertising, websites, analytics, CRM setup, live streaming and prerecorded video content, in addition to online presence analysis and consulting.

Before he started McQ Marketing Group, McHugh was a producer at Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network and did medical marketing for NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital and Westmed Medical Group.

If you are interested in learning more or would like to reach out to Mr. McHugh regarding consulting or public speaking, go to Call 203-689-3419, or email

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