When the first true radio networks began to develop in the 1920s, CBS and NBC rose to become giants in broadcasting. NBC Quickly began acquiring radio stations and found itself with two distinct broadcast entities. They labeled them as NBC Red and NBC Blue.

An FCC study discovered that this dual ownership of the two major broadcasting companies was detrimental to the burgeoning industry. So they required NBC to sell one of their two holdings. NBC Red was more successful than Blue, so NBC elected to sell Blue.

Owner of Life Savers candy, Edward Noble, purchased The Blue Network from NBC in the fall of 1943 and one year later renamed the network American Broadcasting Company. Noble purchased shows such as The “Lone Ranger” and “Sky King” to try and build an audience. Several highly rated stars wanted out of their tight schedules with other broadcasters and moved to up-and-coming ABC.

On April 19, 1948, ABC officially became a multi-media organization when the ABC Television Network went on the air in Philadelphia. It struggled to really gain a foothold in the market until it pioneered a few innovations in TV broadcasting.

In 1961 it debuted “Wide World of Sports” and in 1970 ABC became the exclusive home of “Monday Night Football” on television. Roone Alredge would help to found ABC Sports and create the multi-billion-dollar industry that is sports broadcasting..

ABC found success in the 60’s by creating youth-oriented programing like “American Bandstand.” They continue this tradition today with the ABC Family division.

In 1984, ABC acquired majority control of the increasingly popular ESPN. In the late 80’s and early 90’s ABC’s market share began to slip, and tried creating a series of Friday night programing it called TGIF.

In 1996, the Walt Disney Company bought ABC and all of its holdings and incorporated it into its entertainment division. Many believed this would help propel ABC to the number one spot among broadcast networks, but it was slow going at first.

In 1999, ABC saw a temporary boost thanks to the tremendously popular “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. But a gamble on ABC’s part to move “Millionaire” to the same time slot as CBS’ “Survivor” to kill the show, backfired, and “Millionare” slowly lost viewers due to repeated over-exposure.

The Disney age saw a run of mildly successful dramas and sitcoms, but still nothing carried ABC upwards. In fact, by the end of the 2003-2004 television season, ABC had fallen to fourth – below FOX – becoming the first of the original three to do so.

ABC played their trump cards to start out the 2004-2005 season premiering two dramas. “Desperate Housewives” and “LOST” helped to rejuvenate the struggling network. They followed those up with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty” in the next two seasons. They found success in the reality market after several failed attempts with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

ABC was the last of the big three into, radio, television and HDTV, so it is attempting to get back ahead of the curve now. It was the first broadcast network to offer full-length episodes on its website. Several of its most popular shows are now available in HD the day after the episode airs.

I believe that ABC’s HD player is the easiest to use, and it contains more content and more full-length episodes than the other broadcast networks.


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The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is an American television network that is home to many of today’s most popular television shows like “Desperate Housewives”, “LOST”, “Dancing With the Stars”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”.

ABC owns 10 local broadcast channels across the United States, and is one of the US’ four major broadcast companies.

Purchased by The Walt Disney Company in 1996, The American Broadcasting Company, Inc. became incorporated under the name ABC Inc. ABC is then broken up into several key divisions:

As a member of The Walt Disney Company family, ABC is a “sibling” to a variety of entertainment outlets like the Disney Channel, ESPN, Lifetime, Touchstone Pictures, and many other Disney holdings.

For those of you who need the “cliff notes” version of ABC, here is a slide show with 10 quick facts:

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There have been a few words that have defined both parties lines: Change, Experience, Leadership. But of course there’s the now ubiquitous term “Maverick”. Tina Fey would tell you that her and her running mate are gonna go to Washington and get “all mavericky.” Its possible that this moniker could back fire on McCain and company.

Well the marketing team at ABC Entertainment will tell you that they are proud to be called Mavericks. On June 17, 2008 ABC Entertainment’s Michael Benson and Marla Provencio, executive VPs of marketing, were awarded one of four inaugural Marketing Maverick awards. The awards honor the best in television marketing for the previous year.

“‘Maverick’ is such a fun term,” said Benson. “To us it says that you’re innovative, progressive, and you’re willing to take risks and push forward. And that’s something Marla and I really believe in, so being recognized for that is really an honor,” he said.

An article in Television Week outlined some of the ways they are changing Television marketing. One of my favorite things about what they’re doing is the use of the Internet to promote their show “LOST”.

Here’s a link to an Information Week article giving a rundown of some of the techniques they are using to embrace the “groundswell”. One emerging viral marketing technique they’re utilizing is a concept known as an Alternate Reality Game (ARG). ARG’s have been for a round for a long time, but with the advances in the Internet, ARG’s have finally hit their stride.

Last Winter, ABC rolled out their very own ARG during the writer’s strike to keep its fan’s invested in the show. The game, find815.com, helped explain some of the back story revealed in the previous season finale.

They’ve also developed and supported wikis that host all of the facts about the shows characters, stories, and actors. They also have developed websites for the fake companies and organizations mentioned in the show. Fans will watch the show and then attempt to find any on-line content ABC may have created. They’ve also created places that recreate the show’s sets in the world of Second Life, allowing die hard fans to recreate scenes from the show, or create new adventures in between episodes.

All of this is possible because the shows fans don’t just tune in every week. They are not only highly invested in the show, but they also tend to be very high on Forrester’s Technographic Ladder. ABC recognized this and they have taken their marketing to a whole new level. They are paving the way for other shows and other networks to embrace the Internet age. People now spend more time on-line than they do watching TV.

Benson and Provencio realized that if they’re going to get them to turn back to the small screen, you have to entice them on the computer screen.

So its been 3 weeks since I set up my twitter account. I checked out twitter this past spring, but elected to remain only a spectator. (there’s a technographic buzzword for you. check out more on the “technographic ladder” here http://www.forrester.com/Groundswell/ladder.html) Well, after three weeks I’ve made a few observations on the possibilities, limitations, and overall usefulness of Twitter

POSSIBILITIES

Without a doubt, Twitter is happening, whether you are on board or not. Mini-blogging, what probably should have been a short-lived Internet trend has proven it is here to stay. So what can you use twitter for, since other people are using it.

  1. Personal Blogging – One of Facebook’s most commonly used features is the status update, and twitter is effectively a site devoted to status updates.  People use their cell phones to comment on everything from traffic to sporting events to writing reviews of movies – while they are still in the theatre! If you feel like you can summarize whatever is on your mind at the moment in 140 words, than twitter is for you.
  2. Crowd Sourcing – Perhaps my favorite use of twitter is the potential for Crowd Sourcing. if you have a group of your peers in your industry, whether it be astro-physics or Communications, you can use twitter to quickly ask a question to your entire social network. As twitter is designed to allow for easy response and conversations via mini-blogs, it is possible to get nearly instantaneous feedback from experts in a lot of fields.
  3. Customer Assistance – Several companies, including Comcast, Verizon and Southwest Airlines are currently using twitter to provide quick, and comprehensive customer service. This could be the future of customer service

LIMITATIONS

There are two gigantic flaws that I see with twitter in its current form, and they are both enough to make me consider not using it all together.

  1. Quantity – There are A LOT of tweets at any given time. If you have 20 very active friends, you would have to spend atleast 1/2 an hour a day to keep up with everyone’s posts. If you are following several hundred tweeters, sifting through the masses would be a daunting task.  You often have to sort through a large volume of posts to find anything useful.
  2. Quality One of the most challenging steps in making twitter is useful is just finding people to follow. There are tens of thousands of tweeters out there, but a very small percent have anything to say that you, or anyone would care about. Browsing the everyone feed will show that only a handful of posts have anything thought provoking or even well thought out. If you can find a tweeter who is following reliable sources, then you may be able to find tweeters with similar interests. There should be some sort of community through twitter where you can find people who tend to tweet on certain subjects or browse channels where tweets of particular subject matters would be sent. I believe some of this is in development, but as is, finding useful tweets is a major limitation.

USEFULNESS

I believe that if you just want to causally mini-blog twitter is a viable option. In the coming months as Twitter expands its ability to sift through tweets its usefulness will certainly increase. As more buisnesses and organizations get involved, it will certainly become more effective. My personal advice for anyone who hasn’t yet gotten into twitter would be to join up, secure your username and play around with it for a while. Barring financial troubles, twitter will likely survive in some format for sometime. So, play around with it and get used to it, but I wouldn’t fully integrate it into your social networking life just yet.

The process of producing a play begins long before the curtain ever rises, and it takes many very creative minds to get it ready for opening night. In the case of King Lear, we began having production meetings in December – three and a half months before the show opened – and one of the very first things we talked about was how we wanted to present this story. We considered stylistic issues (like realism, impressionism, etc.) and the set design. The decision had already previously been made to make this the first show in the new black box, so we knew that we’d be working with a thrust set, and would thus have the audience on three sides.

Our set design, by Gary Dartt, featured ramps and platforms that all led to a disc at center stage. This allowed us to bring actors on and off from any side of the stage. So as we began to block each scene we had to make choices about what was the most important moment in a scene, and ensure that those moments took place in the most powerful positions on stage. Other, less important moments we could choose to favor one side over the other, intentionally creating a spacial imbalance on stage. We would run each scene and view it from each side, to make sure that each side was able to see all or most of the action on stage. So, in effect, by sending only one message – the actors and their blocking – we created three different messages that were received by three different target audiences.

So how do we do this with PR? The same event can be portrayed in different manners to your targeted audiences by changing the medium and messages you use to communicate. Lets use again Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. Here is the story of a king who decides to turn over his country and power to his three daughters. He misjudges his daughter and banishes the daughter and knight who are loyal. He then Gives his kingdom to his two daughters who mean him harm. When they do turn on him, he, in his old age, goes mad as he deals with being homeless and powerless.

One play with only one plot, but by selecting a variety of channels, we can tailor this story to multiple audiences. The first and easiest audience to target is the school’s students. To them we can highlight the cheap student tickets of $4, and the ability to see a high quality production of a classic that would cost them $40 in a major theatre in the city. This audience is easily reached through the campus’ many student-run media outlets

Next we can appeal to the local families in town by highlighting the struggles that families go through during the transition of power age. In a rural farming town this is an issue that every generation faces as the farms and lands have to be divided and passed on. This theme of Patriarchal dividing of lands runs throughout the play. These audiences are best reached through the local paper and television advertisements.

There is still a third, smaller, niched audience that we can appeal to with this play. Many scholars believe that King Lear begins to show signs of the first stage of Alzheimer’s (The Bard on the Brain). In the South Georgia region there are several large mental health care facilities as well as a large assisted living industry. Many of these places have doctors, nurses and even clients who might be interested in seeing the play with that in mind. So sending a special press release to those centers as well as regional medical journals are all ways to reach a large, unreached audience.

Keep in mind then as you begin the communication planning process that there are often several different audiences who may be interested in your event, product, information, or service. So stop, and try and see your stage from all sides.

When I had to go through the communication planning process for the first time I hit a very big snag very early on. Everywhere I went had a different definition of what a goal, objective, strategy or tactic was. The more I read the more I got mixed up. But then I found a podcast by a man named Shel Holtz on Inside PR, a great and reliable PR podcast. He breaks it down very clearly and uses a series of events we’re all familiar with to go through the planning process. I hope this helps you as much as it helps me and the classmates I’ve already shared it with.

Inside PR Podcast

This semester I assistant directed William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in our new black box theatre at Georgia Southern University. For those of you not familiar with a “black box theatre” its a theatre known as a “flexible space”. This means that you can arrange the seating to place the audience anywhere in the theatre. For this show we elected for a “thrust” set up – where the audience is stage left, right, and down. The audience sits on every side but the back of the set.

So, throughout the entire process, from the pre-planning phases to closing night we had to consider not just one audience’s perspective, but three. Throughout this process I was reminded of some very interesting correlations to Public relations and communication. I will break them down in subsequent posts, but for now I’ll leave you with some questions to think about targeting multiple audiences:

What are some advantages and disadvantages to targeting multiple audiences with the same strategies and tactics?

Is it possible to use one message to effectively communicate with multiple audiences?

What impacts does targeting multiple audiences have on your budget? Calendar? Mediums and channels?

Are certain audiences more easily targeted together than others?

I’ll address all of these issues in later posts with examples, anecdotes and stories of success and failure, but for now I’m curious to know what you think about these questions, and what kind of experiences you’ve had when targeting multiple audiences.