Applying lessons from Super Bowl coverage to daily news

Applying lessons from Super Bowl coverage to daily news

Event coverage can be exhausting to plan but, by the time the big day arrives, it’s often easier to execute than surprise breaking news.

Take today’s Super Bowl for example: We know the teams involved and we’ve had two weeks to prepare templates for big plays and either possible final outcome. Newsrooms in Kansas City and San Francisco, in particular, should already be prepared.

(Those of us in New England are just glad to have a Sunday off, this year)

Additionally, we know the likely stars and popular storylines. For each element, an efficient producer can stock their pantry with ingredients that are easy to toss together if they become relevant to the game.

The best news teams will apply that same strategy to any up-or-down event. Take, for example, today’s other national holiday.

Punxsutawney Phil either sees his shadow or he doesn’t, which makes it easy to craft social graphics in advance.

(Spoiler alert: the background photo in this graphic is actually from last year, but it’s carefully cropped so no one can tell.)

Because I had prepared both possibilities, our national producer was able to launch the appropriate version quickly across all of our sister stations. Our collective fans loved it and each of our newsrooms started the day with overperforming Facebook posts.

You can bet that we’ve already taken the same approach for the ongoing impeachment trial. Regardless of what the pundits say is most likely, diligent producers are already prepared for both possible outcomes of Wednesday’s vote.

The upcoming Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have a wide field of candidates, but the same method can be applied. Newsrooms can fill their toolbox in advance with images and paragraphs of background information for each of the Democratic candidates, saving time for that traditional Election Night pizza.

But these Super Bowl coverage strategies are not limited to win-or-lose contests. Using a little bit of logic, and the occasional tip from a source, we can prepare for almost any planned event — or even likely events.

When we heard the governor of Massachusetts was planning a vaping-related announcement in September, for example, it was logical to assume it had to do with some sort of restriction. We published a preview that contained the relevant background information in advance and created graphics to use in the case of several possible decisions.

Once the words left the governor’s mouth, we were able to put the applicable content out immediately.

Employing this strategy means you’ll be left with a folder full of text and graphics that can never be published, but it’s still a whole lot cheaper than the companies that have to print t-shirts for both teams in the Super Bowl.