Like most working class adults, I start my morning with the same routine: Hit snooze, stumble out of bed, brush my teeth and turn on the TV. In my usual half-awakened state I normally flip between the TODAY Show and SportsCenter re-runs on ESPN. About a year ago, upon flipping on the TODAY Show, I noticed a new feature segment called the “Orange Room.”
What is the “Orange Room” you might ask? Great question, in fact this was my initial reaction too. In an attempt to engage with their target audience (I’m looking at you BatDad Blake), the TODAY Show introduced what NBC describes in their initial press release as a “first-of-its-kind digital studio”. In marketing manager speak this means sharing with viewers the trending social media topics in a causal, laid back setting. To add to its “cool” vibe, TODAY has brought on the once chill substitute teacher who let you chew gum in class, ex-MTV TRL Countdown host, Carson Daly, to run the command center. And in case you are wondering, yes, the set is completely orange.
At the surface, the “Orange Room”, is quite easy to make fun of. It’s a little like watching your parents learn how to use Facebook or send their first Tweet; awkward yet amusing. During the initial months of the “Orange Room” there were several segments on not just how to use the various social media platforms such as Twitter, SnapChat, Vine and Instagram, but also 101s on terminology such as “selfie” and “hashtag” -Which I’ll never look at the same way again, thank you Jimmy Fallon. In fact, the show even went so far to do a week-long feature on “Love Your Selfie” complete with tips on health, money management, stress-free living and of course the right angle in which to take a “selfie”. While the younger audience rolls their eyes, I knew the content was working when my mother told me about The Gas Station Couple and asked if I had seen the video. I had zero clue what she was talking about. How did she know about this viral video? Because it was trending on Twitter. (Insert hand motion showing my head exploding.)
What the TODAY Show executive producers really did was find a new way to connect with their audience. They realized that people weren’t just getting their news from traditional outlets of TV and Newspaper any more. In fact, news in itself has transformed from what journalist and reports talked about to now real life stories and experiences that are shared literally every second online. The purpose of the “Orange Room” was to bridge the very gap between TV and social media platforms and offer its audiences the chance to communicate and connect with the show unlike ever before. “The ‘Orange Room’ is where the newsroom meets the living room. In this space, we will evolve the way news is gathered and delivered by creating a direct and meaningful relationship with our TODAY audience on any platform,” said TODAY show Executive Producer Don Nash.
Almost a year since the initial launch of the “Orange Room”, the segment is no longer awkward and in fact I’m not quite sure the show would be the same without it. Carson Daly is a great fit and works well alongside Matt, Savannah and Al. The audience, hosts, and guests interact almost seamlessly with each other. Each story or feature now comes with some question or contest in which to engage the audience and it really does work (well, minus their attempt to name the “Orange Room” goldfish). They share feedback from all the social media channels that adds to the interest of the stories. Plus, dare I admit it, I’ve actually responded to a few myself. So there you have it TODAY show, you’ve even converted the impossible, a late 20’s sports loving guy. #AnythingIsPossible #OrangeRoom