I turn on the TV in the morning while getting ready for work. Like my fellow 5.1 million viewers, I am a fan of the Today Show, but sometimes I switch around to check out the local affiliates.
This morning I settled on Eye Opener Philly on PHL17. It bills itself as a different kind of morning show. The anchors are standing up and not hiding behind a desk. Having worked in a newsroom, I can tell you that some male anchors dress for the desk, i.e., suit and tie on top and shorts on the bottom. That can’t happen on Eye Opener Philly.But a far more dubious and insidious event does occur on the show these days. It’s bullshit content. Moving its mission from news to “news,” apparently, one of the segments I saw started out like any other, with a reasonable intro about the benefits of working out. The anchor moved over to a table full of products, a familiar sight on any morning program including The Today Show.By the second product, I knew I was being had. The news program had morphed into an infomercial for products like Pom Coconut and a nutrition bar. While the latter may loosely be defined as good for your fitness regimen, Pom Coconut packs 8 teaspoons of sugar and 140 calories into that double bubble bottle. Not a health beverage by any stretch.
We have all seen these kinds of segments, and the Today Show does them on a regular basis. But the Matt Lauer version never bothered me or set off my bullshit alarm. What’s the difference?
In a word, quality.
The Today Show producers and talent are tops in their field. They use critical thinking when creating segments that showcase products, and typically employ a credible expert to make recommendations. We trust the Today Show, and we trust their subject matter experts.
Eye Opener Philly just seems to get it wrong. An anchor slips seamlessly from news reporting to advertising, and it’s not a pretty sight. There is no expert opinion. There is no credibility.
Here’s what you need to know if you are creating content. Don’t shill. Don’t pretend that you are offering credible news if all you are doing is selling products. In fact, don’t use content to sell your products.
Somewhere else, really anywhere else on your website, feel free to sell your product. But content is pretty much off limits for sales. The minute you hit the hard sell is the minute you turn to icky slime.
Your content should be about helping your current and potential customers. And that’s all. Don’t confuse the two, because the only one you are fooling is yourself.