Wanted: DTV Spokespersons In Charge

February 13, 2008

DTV information campaigns are continuing the work to overcome the challenge in bringing information to every consumer affected by the transition. Media is covering the topic almost daily or weekly at least. Comments pours into this blog on the subject. One of the latest is this one below, I want to share it here as a sign of how many consumers may be feeling for the moment about the DTV transition.

I am interested in what all of this means to me. I have lived in a rural area from birth. Our TV reception has always been marginal, with just a couple of stations with decent reception and about 5 more with varying degrees of watchable reception. Locally, there are about 5 stations broadcasting DTV. I am still totally analog, so far. It seems that this coming transition is not well organized. I think a leader must emerge and take the risk to get the converter boxes to the public. At this time, a converter box is not available at my local Radio Shack. I am semi-patiently waiting. I haven’t signed up for my coupons, yet.”

I hope the launch of converter boxes in the coming weeks can help this reader. Often the reception will become much better with digital TV signals. If the reception still is poor after the converter box is connected, the problem might be the antenna. If it is old and worn, it needs to be replaced.

The question of a leader to emerge is interesting. As of now there is not one single person who is in charge of the whole transition. The press conference at Best Buy in Washington D.C last week was a gathering with all the top stakeholders on stage together. I doubt one single person will step forward as the person to be in over-all charge of the transition. However, what I do think is missing right now is one or a few real spokespersons. That has the ability to explain the transition easily and answer common questions from consumers about the transition with clarity. I think media would appreciate this as well.

It would make it much easier to bring one message to the audience about the transition. Even when stakeholders gather together on a stage they have different views on what information is important in their own perspective. By all means, they do have various roles in the transition. The DTV coalition, federal authorities and other stakeholders are doing a great job in working together but they would be able to make the understanding about the DTV transition even easier for consumers if they could pick a few spokespersons that would meet the audience both face to face and through media.

To work together and be united is great and creates a solid base of trust to work from, but it may also confuse consumers when many talking heads that don’t differ much from the politicians now overflowing broadcasts. One or a few spokesperson with deep understanding and a manner that enables them to communicate a complex issue in a simple and easy way – that would be a factor that could help smooth the transition – from a consumers perspective.

If consumers are doing great in the time ahead of the transition – the whole transition will be splendid.

Anders Bjers

P.S Funny how things can play out. Just after I punched publish for this latest post I did a Google News search on “DTV transition”. I found a piece from Multichannel News only 12 hours old headlined “Hill Lawmakers want DTV Czar”. Bullseye… D.S


U.S Consumer DTV Education Campaigns Reach Full Steam

October 31, 2007

NAB has announced that the second phase of the DTV consumer education campaigns is in full swing. This phase is long awaited for by stakeholders, decision- and lawmakers. Also, NAB have launched ads to reach lawmakers and stakeholders in D.C, awareness is not only a goal among consumers. Probably is the awareness among lawmakers just as low, even if this matter should concern them more. NAB and the DTV coalition has in fairly short time succeeded in putting together unified messages to reach out to consumers in the effort to prepare consumers to act well in time before the actual transition in ’09. The question remains though how well they will reach out and make people take action.

A difference compared to other countries is that there are no converter boxes in stores yet.

The campaigns consists of the following parts:

· DTV Action” television spots

· Crawls, snipes and/or news tickers during programming

· 30-minute educational programs about DTV

· 100-day countdown to the February 17, 2009, DTV deadline

· Public relations elements, including earned media coverage in newspapers and online

· DTV Road Show that will visit 600 locations nationwide

· DTV Speakers Bureau that will reach one million consumers

· Online banner ads on TV station Web sites

About a 1000 U.S broadcasters are using these tools to reach out. I think that is a great move – the transition is a hyper-local event. People will turn to their local stations for information and local retailers, talking with neighbours for advice and tips. A truly glocal example in todays flat world.

NAB has learned much from campaigns in Europe. It is almost a blueprint off the campaigns successfully carried out in Sweden. And the key components as the ticker, roadshow and earned media are the core components used in both Sweden and U.K. But why should the U.S invent the wheel? A transition is not really rocket science (any more) but a great effort and a real challenge for stakeholders and communication professionals. It isn’t very often you come across projects with these very special features and circumstances. Think about it: limited time that are constantly shrinking – a constant countdown, A complex mass of stakeholders that you want to coordinate to walk and talk in the same manner and direction, a limited budget, a broad range of targetgroups where the hardest to “move” and educate are in many ways the hardest group to reach with any message, a political dimension that is delicate to handle because if the project should backfire – people in the political sphere will be directly effected. And add to that a huge opportunity and challenge for retailers to provide the hardwear needed to make the transition possible on an individual level. It might even be material for a reality show…

But the greatest ally will be silence, how strange it may seam. Because if it is silent the days before a transition everything will work fine. A bold assumption but also the true reciept of a successful transition in Sweden.

It will be interesting to follow if silence will be the state of the transition on the 17th of February 2009, with two days to go..

Right now there is little silence. NAB estimates that the campaign will generate 98 billion audience impressions during the course of the campaign. If there is silence among stakeholders at this point something is very wrong. But I believe the DTV transition will be smooth and great.

Anders Bjers