It’s hard not to have a little glow about Summit XV last week. While many of the headlines concerned CEA’s Gary Shapiro, one of the most talked-about sessions was WXYZ-TV’s Stephen Clark, telling us all about “The Backchannel.”
I first met Stephen at the 140 Characters Conference here in Detroit back in October. I knew then that “The Backchannel” would make for a great session at our Summit.
We’ve talked about “The Backchannel” in an earlier post, but at Summit XV, Stephen outdid himself with a great presentation and a fabulous video (below) that cleverly explains what “The Backchannel” is all about. He then went to a live Twitter feed of “The Backchannel” in action, tweeting to his online community while the video played.
As he explained to an attentive audience, TV news (like radio) has been known for its “We talk – you listen” approach. “The Backchannel” turns that relationship on its side, and it is working for Clark and Channel 7 here in Detroit.
As I had hoped, many of the room agreed that there’s no reason why many radio stations and personality shows couldn’t adopt a similar approach. Stephen makes tweeting and reading the news sound easy, but the fact is that while “The Backchannel” has invigorated his career and his approach, it requires a great deal of focus and energy.
He’s a guy who truly has both. After having dinner with him and other Summit guests on Wednesday night, and observing him being on hand for every session from beginning to end, Clark exudes that “all in” approach that is so critical to success in our rapidly changing media environment.
We once again appreciate the lengths to which Stephen went to produce this great video, which helped him instantly connect with the Summit crowd.
The idea of giving the audience a seat at the table, allowing them to have a little control of what they see and hear, while giving them the chance to interact with talent is what “The Backchannel” is about. And the real-time nature of Twitter provides the community with a conduit that is enabling Channel 7 Action News to connect with an engaged, younger audience.
A few radio shows that I’m aware of have dabbled in this type of audience communication idea, but aside from using Twitter for comments or two, how many shows and stations are really connecting with their communities?