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TV’s Prominent Role in Word-of-Mouth Marketing

The synergy between local news and word-of-mouth marketing is undeniable. We sat down with Nicki Harkrider-Probey, Chief Revenue Officer at TEGNA, to hear her perspective on the profound impact of word-of-mouth marketing and the crucial role local broadcast news plays in fostering trust and credibility.

Meredith Cunningham Published: April 24, 2024
TV’s Prominent Role in Word-of-Mouth Marketing image

In today’s fast-paced world, where information overload and skepticism abound, the importance of trust cannot be overstated. Word of mouth plays a pivotal role in shaping consumer perceptions and decisions, whether it’s about choosing a product, service, or even a news source.

“Word of mouth is everything,” asserts Harkrider-Probey. “It’s a bedrock upon which brands build their reputation and consumer trust. It holds significant weight when someone hears positive feedback from a trusted source, whether a friend, family member or a respected local news anchor. In an era where trust is often elusive, particularly in news, the reliability and integrity associated with local news brands become invaluable.”

The findings from TVB’s American Conversation Study echo this sentiment, revealing that consumers perceive local news as the most trustworthy source of information and that its credibility remains unparalleled.

What does this mean for brand advertising?

Brands associated with local news enjoy a halo effect, benefiting from the implicit trust conferred upon them by consumers. Harkrider emphasizes the formidable influence of the halo effect on a brand, when associated with local news, as helping to build brand safety and trust.

“In the realm of local news, journalistic integrity is foundational for all news content and journalists, ensuring that facts are presented authentically and trustworthily.” Local news is strongly dedicated to credibility, so consumers are never left questioning the authenticity or reliability of the content. Brands can benefit from that association.

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Why is trust essential in word-of-mouth marketing?

Trust is a growing concern for consumers across demographics, as the Edelman 2023 Trust Barometer found:

  • 79% of Gen Z say it’s more important than ever to trust the brands they buy, more than any other generation surveyed
  • 71% of all surveyed say it is more important to trust the brands they buy or use today than in the past

Harkrider explains that this sentiment is because a growing number of consumers seek authenticity and reliability amidst the sea of information available today on multiple channels, including broadcast and cable, streaming, online, radio and podcasts, and more.

How do brands grow trust?

Harkrider emphasizes local broadcasters’ commitment to providing accurate, verified information that fosters meaningful storytelling and the conversations that accompany it. She also underscores the importance of serving the greater good of their communities— an issue that consumers care about more and more and consider when making purchase decisions.

Consumers recognize a brand’s credibility and trustworthiness when its messaging is characterized by honesty and when it consistently delivers value to its audience,” says Harkrider-Probey. “With local news outlets deeply rooted in their communities, brands possess a remarkable opportunity to effect meaningful change in the lives of those residing within the communities they serve.”

“Partnering with news stations on community initiatives not only facilitates positive brand perception among consumers but also demonstrates a genuine commitment to social responsibility. By actively engaging in local community endeavors alongside reputable news outlets, brands can enhance their image as caring and dedicated to making a difference.”

As a result, brands can expect sincere word-of-mouth avocation. Advertising on local news channels as a word-of-mouth marketing strategy instills brand safety and trust.

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Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the synergy between local news and word-of-mouth marketing is undeniable. As consumers share their experiences and recommendations, brands associated with trusted news sources naturally emerge. By prioritizing authenticity, integrity, and community engagement, brands can harness the power of local broadcast news to foster meaningful connections and drive long-term success.


Public trust, truth, and transparency have enormous value, and Team TEGNA continually showcases its commitment to providing trustworthy journalism and dedication to community service. What does that mean for brands advertising with the station and TEGNA affiliates? Contact us today to learn more about the news-trust halo and how it can extend to your brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is word-of-mouth marketing?

Word-of-mouth marketing, also called WOM marketing or WOMM, occurs when a brand audience organically shares the word about a brand or product—whether via voice conversation, social media shares, or any other medium for sharing information willfully.

Why is word-of-mouth effective?

Word-of-mouth is effective because it is built upon trust. In general, people are more likely to take action on advice they receive from a friend or someone they trust than they are to follow an unknown advertisement or another form of marketing.  A Nielsen survey found that 92% of consumers believe their family or friends over advertisements.

What is an example of word-of-mouth?

Word-of-mouth advertisements can come in many shapes and forms. It could be as simple as telling your grandmother which brand of tea cookies she prefers. On a larger scale, having trusted local news anchors discuss your brand or product has a much larger audience reach and is also a prime word-of-mouth marketing strategy.

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