When I was in the TV News business, the big thing was making sure that your station had the story first. I remember people, holding legal pads, standing in a panic in front of three or four TVs, simultaneously watching and taking notes on the competition. They lived in fear of not having a story first.
This was seen as the metric of success. If you station got beat, it was like the locker room after your team just lost the big game.
This is where reality often left the newsroom. It was rare that one station really scooped the other. One might have covered the story better but usually everyone would have something on it. Even if your station was totally beat on a story, with a few frantic phone calls, you could put a shortened version of the story on the air before the end of your newscast.
Another thing to consider was that only news people watch four or five stations at once. The folks at home may have made their viewing choices based on nothing more than liking one of the anchors or his or her hair style. Some would watch your newscast simply because they were too lazy to change the channel after the previous program ended. To them, the claim of having a story, “first,” was not going to change their viewing habits.
In today’s online world, having a story first continues to be a big deal. But do you, as a viewer, care? Has it changed your viewing patterns and do you keep a scorecard at home?
A false reality has been created in newsrooms. The pressure to break the story first has resulted in inaccurate reporting. That’s something that will cost you viewers.
So an industry is sweating bullets based on something it thinks is important but really isn’t. Sound familiar?
Does management at your company freak out if the competition underprices you by a few dollars or opens a few minutes earlier on Black Friday? While these may be very visible differences, you need to step back and decide whether these are issues that really are important to your customers.
Too often, well thought out strategies are undermined in a panic. If you do this, you may be nothing more than a lemming happily running off a cliff.
Slow down, calm down, and decide what really matters.