Gray Television Stations Create Online Directory in Campaign to Promote Thousands of Essential Local Companies Who Remain Open for Business

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Gray Television, Inc. has launched a new campaign to promote essential local businesses that remain open for customers in the midst of state and local restrictions.  About four dozen of Gray’s stations have launched their own interactive, online local business directories in the past two weeks featuring approximately 4,600 companies who collectively employ many thousands of residents in Gray’s markets.  Gray anticipates that its remaining stations will roll out the directory in the coming days, and that the directories collectively will feature over 10,000 local businesses by the end of April.

Across 93 local markets, Gray’s stations have each created a set of localized webpages that identify local businesses that remain open for remote orders and/or physical visits.  For example, WMC created for the Memphis market.  Visitors can locate local businesses by type (automotive, eateries, medical, services, shopping and other) and location.  Each participating business receives its own webpage within the online directory that offers the business the ability to post its own description, its current hours of operation, pictures, video, and an interactive map as well as links to the business’s external website and social media accounts.  Countless pages also include buttons (i.e., links) permitting online visitors to place food and other orders directly through the site for pickup or delivery, and many also include coupons.  Currently, nearly 450 businesses listed in the directories have included “We’re Hiring” buttons on their directory pages.  A sample business listing including all of these features appears here.

The stations provide the local business directories as a public service for local companies and their communities.  Gray’s stations heavily promote their local directory on air, in their newscasts, and on their digital platforms.  Any local business that remains legally open may participate in the directory for free, regardless of whether the business has advertised or plans to advertise on the local Gray station or its digital platform. 

In late March, several of our stations shared ideas on how to leverage their promotional reach and our technology to help viewers find and patronize local companies still employing fellow members of their communities.  In response, Gray Digital Media created the local business directory in-house quickly, launching the first markets within days.

“The initial responses from participating businesses and from viewers have been tremendous,” remarked Bob Smith, Gray’s Chief Operating Officer.  “We are thrilled to leverage our resources to help support our local communities not just with critical news and information but also with support for the businesses continuing to keep local communities functioning in these difficult times.”

Gray’s WRDW in Augusta, Georgia, recently received the following unsolicited message soon after launching its local business directory:

For years I have been watching your 6:00 pm newscast followed by CBS news.  Monday night I saw that you had a segment about your web page featuring businesses that were still open during the Covid outbreak.  I immediately thought that this might help my son [redacted] with his business, [redacted], which had been struggling to stay open.  He submitted his post on Tuesday and yesterday his sales were almost twice the daily average since the statewide stay at home order was implemented.  Thank you for providing this valuable service.  This is just one more example of the commitment to our community that WRDW has always championed.

The business directories for all 93 markets can be found on  Gray anticipates continued growth in the directories as additional markets launch and as all of its stations ramp up promotions.  Gray intends to continue maintaining and promoting the local business directories for as long as they benefit the participating businesses.