José Díaz-Balart has the best sign-off line of any newscaster I’ve seen. I regularly watch Díaz-Balart on the NBC Nightly News Saturday, a show he has hosted since 2016. Truth be told, I sometimes tune in just to hear him end his newscast with this line: “Thank you for the privilege of your time.” (Click play below to watch.)
My wife usually laughs at me. I tell her that he gets me every time. He has chosen the perfect words to pack in so much meaning about the economic relationship between the network, the show, the anchor, and the viewer in our attention-driven economy.
(Do you think it’s a coincidence we talk about how we “spend” our time — in the same way we spend our money in other transactions? More often than not, we spend our time to get information, while we spend our money to get goods and services.)
This carefully chosen sign-off should be a model for how every business person treats their customers and prospects. Long before you actually collect money for your good or service, your prospects likely spend minutes, hours, or days considering the purchase. How often do you and your sales team thank prospects for their time?
A Veteran Newsman Knows the Value of Words
Díaz-Balart has worked in broadcast journalism since 1988, reporting and hosting news shows in both English and Spanish. He has won multiple awards, including three Emmys and a Peabody award. He totally gets it. He understands the symbiosis between viewer and host.
As viewers, we have nearly infinite choices for how to spend our time. As Díaz-Balart knows, only one specific choice results in us watching his newscast.
The first choice, of course, is how we spend the specific slice of our life when the nightly news airs. Will we be at the theater watching the newest Marvel movie, trying out the hottest local restaurant, camping at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or doing literally ANYTHING else besides watching TV?
If we do choose to watch TV, then what kind of show do we choose? On a Saturday night, network news is probably pretty low on the list for most people. Broadcast and streaming movies and sports vie for our attention. If we choose news, then which network? Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS? I usually choose NBC, in part because of anchors like Díaz-Balart and Lester Holt. They are polite, professional, and respectful. (Díaz-Balart also is rare among news anchors in that he usually shakes hands at the end of a live, on-set interview — another show of respect for the expertise and valuable time of his guest.)
Díaz-Balart knows the media landscape is increasingly fragmented. He knows that neither he nor his network should take us viewers for granted. He seems to be one of the few newscasters who acknowledges this fact right in front of our eyeballs.
The lesson here for all business people is this: How often do you tell your customers “Thank you for the privilege of doing business with me?” Your “audience” can easily slip away from you in a fragmented and competitive market for whatever you sell. And do you pay the same kind of respect to your prospects as Díaz-Balart does to his viewers?
Try to develop a standard, heartfelt way to express gratitude to your customers. And teach all of your employees to use it whenever they interact with your customers. Let it become part of your brand experience, just as José Díaz-Balart has developed his trademark sign-off.
Oh yeah, and before I forget: Thank you, dear reader, for the privilege of your time!