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NBC News Readies Edgy Promo Campaign for Lester Holt’s ‘Nightly News’

NBC News is shaking up the typical methodology of promoting evening news with a new campaign aimed at getting viewers to watch more of Lester Holt.

Current promos for “NBC Nightly News” show the anchor talking to people whose lives have been torn apart by massive flooding. “Sometimes, it’s nice to see all the good out there,” he says in narration. But a new effort slated to launch Friday evening amps up the action, and features a whirlwind of jump-cut images depicting Holt talking to a pilot in a plane; stepping along while covering wildfires; and interviewing President Donald Trump in a landmark exchange from May of 2017. NBC News correspondents Hallie Jackson and Kristen Welker are also shown at work.

Words superimposed over the scenes tell viewers they “get the story….as if you were there.” The images may come even faster and more furiously than those used in the signature “Eye Opener” segment that kicks off each broadcast of “CBS This Morning.” The new slogan: “The story told nightly.”

NBC News launches the effort as its “NBC Nightly News” continues to vie with ABC’s “World News Tonight” for viewers. The ABC program, anchored by David Muir, has won more viewers overall for 25 consecutive weeks – a category the NBC newscast once dominated regularly. Season to date,  the NBC program continues to lead in the more important business category – the viewers between 25 and 54 that advertisers in news programming desire most.

The new campaign may  serve to highlight several behind-the-scenes changes to the NBC newscast. The show has a new interim executive producer, Jenn Suozzo. Her first week in the role was the week of July 30. NBC News has added several new end segments to the program, including “Snapshot” which examines how everyday and even extraordinary Americans are leading their lives; a Thursday vignette known as “Spotlight” that looks at celebrities and popular culture of the moment; and a Friday report called “Above and Beyond” showcasing people who rose to a moment or went the extra mile.

Holt, who officially took over “Nightly” in the summer of 2015, has put an emphasis on getting out from behind the anchor desk and getting his feet on the ground in newsy scenes. In the new promo, there is only one shot of Holt on the “Nightly” set – and that is a still image that comes at the end.

Other news outlets have emphasized action in recent promotional efforts, part of a broader trend that plays up field reporting and you-are-there images over formal shots of posing in the studio. MSNBC’s current campaign, for example, features anchors like Andrea Mitchell in the midst of confrontational interviews in the halls of Washington institutions.

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