Reality TV and its slightly classier cousin, the travelogue, have never really appealed to me. Now and again, however, I’ll get hooked. Bravo’s Top Chef and Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter, for example. Or, on the travelogue front, Tony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
It’s no secret that A LOT goes on in the editing rooms and certain portions of certain shows are heavily scripted cough cough LC, cough cough.
But what’s really helped me become an enrolled audience member of the aforementioned shows is the freedom afforded the stars and hosts as bloggers.
Several TUF competitors and Top Chef contestants/hosts have, for multiple seasons, maintained blogs along side each episode’s air date. These blogs aren’t just recaps and reflections on the 22 or 43 minutes of TV piped into your home, split up by increments of 30 second spots. They’re also totally transparent commentaries on the show’s editing process and what the network DIDN’T show you. Basically, the stars are, by definition, rejecting that label. They’re with the masses on the Web, telling it like it is (or like it was) and filling in the blanks for us so that we end up with the whole picture (whether pretty, or ugly). Take for example, Bourdain’s response to a recent Travel Channel experiment (he hosted a dinner for 4 at Wiley Dufresne’s molecular gastronomy joint, wd~50). I haven’t seen the episode, but all reports considered the episode a disaster that did its subjects no favors. What’s important is Tony’s response to the feedback on message boards and the comment section of his blog:“Failure has a stench all its own. It smells like fear … and shame. I may have been conveniently removed from the burning wreckage inspired by last week’s experiment, happily narcotized in a pressurized cabin on its way to Manila, but the odor followed me just the same. It says something when the comments about a show (on my blog and on the message boards) were smarter, more thoughtful and insightful than the show itself. The People Have Spoken.
That’s how you build a loyal audience…by interacting, providing comments and being transparent before, during and after the release of your book/movie/tv show/album/transmedia narrative and taking your licks along with the applause.
See? There’s room for everybody behind the curtain. Keep that in mind when you’re considering how to connect with your audience. It’s not about being a star, it’s about being honest.
Posted in audience-building blogs community television