Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Makes a Great Multi-Media Site

My research has allowed me to analyze and compare and contrast a number of popular multi-platform sites spanning the web. From this analysis I've come up with a list of key items that generally indicate successful marketing of multimedia products.
1.) Interaction
-It is incredibly important to have user interaction within one's site. Viewers will not only have a reason to continue coming back (they'll feel invested in the product), but you'll get immediate feedback on content and will be able to tailor your product to the consumer's needs.

2.) Various multimedia platforms
-Just having video isn't enough. In today's technologically enhanced society you need to offer consumers a variety of options. Sites that contain games (, for example), iPod applications, Podcasts, and photo albums generally will generate and maintain a larger audience. This is because there is something for everyone and the information can be accessed across a variety of platforms.

3.) Information that seems unique to the user
-Offering regurgitated or aggregated information isn't enough. You have to give you audience something they truly can't get anywhere else. Even if you are covering a story with a national audience and appeal, you have the opportunity to make it relevant to a specific audience. For example, a story about the economy becomes interesting and unique to Ann Arbor residents when you find a specific human interest angle that is unique to the community. People want to know how something will affect them in particular.

4.) Humor is an important attribute to employ
-People don't want to be bogged down with just doom and gloom. They want to get their news in an informative manner (which is partially why shows like the "Colbert Report" are so popular). Try making feature pieces that convey a message while still providing an entertaining hook. For example, a story on Michigan quarterbacks could take the humorous approach of having an average Joe try doing what they do on a daily basis. The story would showcase the QB's talents while also providing the humorous visual of the average person attempting, and failing, at doing the same thing.

5.) Encourage dialogue, opinion sharing
-People love polls. They don't have to be smart. Sometimes simple is better. People want to think their opinions matter though, so asking them to answer a simple poll question can increase your consumer participation and thus encourage repeat users. While the ability for users to post comments means that viewers may disagree with the message you are trying to present, it may also mean that more significant supporters come out of the woodwork. Being in the spotlight, good or bad, is better than not being in it at all. If someone posts a negative comment on a site, generally more people will respond with positive feedback supporting your work. Criticism can be good. It can show that your site is less biases and open to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Having others support your thoughts, and not just the owners of the site helps add credibility to the message you're trying to send.

Overall this independent study project has caused me to change the way I consume media. Now every time I watch TV, surf the web, or turn on my iPod I am thinking of the different ways in which the media is being marketed, the ways in which the content is produced and delivered, and the reasons for my use. I pay close attention now when I watch shows like Gossip Girl to see the ways in which multimedia platforms are being used. The other day I took time to go the the CW's website to see how they integrated both original and regurgitated programming in an attempt to draw people to both the show and the site. I pay attention to product placement, teasers, and banners in a way I never had before.
I feel as though I have a much better understanding of the different components that make up multimedia packages. The thought processes that go into the design and execution of these things are incredibly complex and until recently I didn't take the time to think about it. Planning has to happen way in advance to correspond with TV schedules and marketing promotions. I think that is where a lot of companies are lacking right now. They aren't putting their internet planning side-by-side with their other platform. The companies that are thinking that way (ESPN, for example) are the ones that are flourishing.
I suspect that this is a project I will continue to work on. I doubt I'll ever be able to go back to watching TV the same mindless way I once did. I think like a multimedia broadcast journalist which means I'm constantly looking for ways to hone my craft and expand my skill set. Observing industry trends is an important part of that learning process.

Monday, April 6, 2009

WOLV wrap-up

I feel like my research has paid off. The results of my study have allowed me to tailor the WOLV executive board for next year to help bridge the gap between traditional and multimedia journalism. WOLV will now have a multimedia manager with HTML and other necessary web experience that will be used to not just create and maintain blogs but also more indepth show websites. He'll also be able to maintain and continue to modify the newly designed WOLV website.
Interviews indicated that the introduction of the multimedia content this year was generally a success and something that producers next year hope, and are willing to, continue.
As much as the process was a struggle I feel that overall everyone was able to gather something positive from it and hopefully can use their experiences to aid in a future job/internship search.
I am still monitoring statistics on the blogs and websites and have still found the same patterns to persist. Users of the internet material differ from those of our regular station content, although there have been requests for station content to appear online. We broadcast the MSA debates and I received numerous emails asking where they could be viewed by individuals who didn't have access to the dorms. The ability to provide all our content online thus increased our viewership and performed a public service for the University.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Convergence Culture: Reflection

For my midterm project I read Henry Jennkin's Convergence Culture. Convergence is something that is at the forefront of many a television conversation in this age of multimedia platforms and increasing technological capabilities.
Jenkin's book was broken down into chapters that served as case studies for how convergence has already played a factor in certain media cases. The first three chapters on Survivor, American Idol, and The Matrix, were by far the most interesting parts of the book. They showed how in today's entertainment environment, the audience is as important part of the media as the media itself. Content is, and should, be consumer driven. American Idol is almost entirely driven by viewer desires, and as a result becomes more engaging for audiences. This extra engagement can have a number of consequences, most importantly on advertising. Advertisers want consumer engagement and are willing to pay top dollar for a product that can deliver some sort of interactivity in hopes that branding will be more effective. In American Idol Coca-Cola and Ford are just two of the major companies that have found the show's interactivity to be a successful marketing strategy.
I didn't just want to read the book to say I read it. My goal was to try and see how the concepts Jenkin's referred to throughout could be applied at WOLV. While obviously we have budget, technological, and a myriad of other limitations that don't effect the examples given in the book, we do share a number of the basic principles in common.
Our sexual health show, Turned On, is the best example of this. The show features live call-ins (viewer engagement) and as a result much of the content is consumer driven. The key is providing audiences with continued engagement after the show has gonee off-air. To test this, we have established an AIM user name where throughout the week people can instant message their questions, comments, etc. to one of our "sexperts" when they are online. One of the hosts continues to use this online system during the airing of the show so that viewers can participate while watching as well.
The show also has a blog where extra content posts are put up each week to reward viewers who are looking for bonus material. While this is less interactive, it still provides a content push similar to those Jenkin's referred to in his case studies.
I really feel like WOLV is moving on the right track with our new multi-media endeavors.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Continued User Examination

So I've been continuing to monitor user statistics for the WOLV websites/blogs, etc. and have been comparing them to our TV viewing patterns.  Thus far I have discovered basically that this is a complete waste of time. We shouldn't be trying to vie for the same audience over both platforms. Instead, WOLV should be finding ways to reach the different audiences that use each platforms. 
  For example, WOLV has been putting up shows online. Each blog carries full recent episodes, and the main website (the new website is now live, by the way) has feature videos and promo clips. Some of WOLV's work has been embedded by other sites, thus generating new viewing audiences.  A recent story on soccer player Peri Merosivic, for example, made it up on  People who don't have access to WOLV, and generally aren't interested in our other programming, were able to still see our work through this extended platform.
  I think the station needs to have two marketing areas: one for the web, and one for the TV channel. The TV channel can be marketed in the dorms specifically (especially considering the channel is only featured in University Buildings).  The web marketing can focus on getting uploaded content embedded or linked to other sites to increase traffic. Sports related pieces, for example, can be pitched to popular sports sites/blogs.  I have had entertainment videos that I put on my blogged linked to celebrity fan sites that have in return driven hundreds of viewers to my video. 
  Understanding the changing audiences and their needs/wants will also be helpful when trying to sell advertising. WOLV offers an unique demo as a channel, but that demo is automatically expanded when our work goes up online. Being able to offer that extra bit of viewership to potential advertisers will hopefully entice more people to want to work with WOLV. 

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Trials and Tribulations of Website design

So this whole designing a website thing has been far harder than anticipated. Never before did I realize all of the different decision making and strategizing that goes into such an endeavor.
I have had to make decisions on pages, layouts, content, display, pictures, videos,...the list goes on and on. I thought that my content analysis of other sites would be more helpful. In reality it was practically useless. WOLV TV is not ANY of those other sites. We don't have the same business model, or the same goals.
The key with WOLV is that the internet is not a portal to drive traffic TO our channel, nor is it a portal to provide new information. Instead, it's a place where people can get information about our station (shows, leadership, funding, etc.) and potentially view content they otherwise would not be able to access. By each show having a blog they open WOLV's content up to a brand new audience. This audience has far different needs than the audience we serve in the dorms on the TV channel. Balancing these needs with our current station organization has been an important challenge.
My goal with this independent study is to see how we can make our programming more appealing to audiences outside the University while still keeping our fundamental principal that WOLV is about student's teaching students. The quality of our programming can't compete with the networks, but that's not the goal. Understanding that, and working on ways to still make our content relevant and desired is what I'm hoping to discover over the course of the semester.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


1. Have you ever watched WOLV TV?

2. Which of the following show(s) have you watched on WOLV TV?
The Entertainment Buzz
Turned On
Varsity Blue
You Say Maize, I Say Blue
Varsity Blue

3. Why do you watch WOLV TV?
I accidently stumbled across the channel
I want to know more about Michigan sports
I'm interested in campus related Entertainment news
I think it's funny
My friend is on TV
No reason

4. How often would you say you watch WOLV TV?
once a day
once a week
once a month
once a semester
once a year

5. Can you name one of the WOLV TV on air personalities? If so put as many as you can in the space below.

6. Have you ever visited the WOLV TV website, or watched a WOLV TV show online?

7. Do you have any suggestions for WOLV TV shows?

8. What channel is WOLV TV on?

Content Analysis: ABC, ESPN, WZZM, and PEOPLE
*Double column top link bars
*Top of page running score bar
*Picture slideshow top left two-thirds
*Top right headline LINKS
*Lower page split into boxes featuring analysts, polls, and ESPN programming guide
THOUGHTS: Top of page clean, bottom gets very busy. Programming guide good idea. Static image on the front page rather than a video may be a better way to go…
*3 column format
*Single column top links
*Left hand side headlines, sentence teasers with LINKS to stories
*Right hand side 2nd column Picture with story caption
*3rd column less important story bites, pictures
*bottom 1st column TOP READ stories
*bottom 1st column CELEBRITY FUN FACT
*3rd column right, video, game, and extra links.
THOUGHTS: celebrity fun fact could be an “WOLV fun fact” and the Top Read stories could be top stories links of the week on the front page.
*logo with search engine embed
*single column top links
*modified 3 column form
*rotating still image story on top left
*top links on right
*RIGHT column mostly ads
*Video bar in middle of the page
*rest of page is genre specific links
THOUGHTS: site is very busy and dominated by ads on the right hand side. Again the static picture indicates that may be the way to go instead of using the promo video on the front page.
*single link bar across top
*lots of images, less text. Images used to link to shows/departments
*interactive poll bottom right
THOUGHTS: The homepage is elegant, simple, and eye-catching. I like the video and static both appearing top of the page. The interactive poll may be a viable option…could help register participation rates.