Back in August, when it seemed like my best and only choice for understanding the chaos of 2020, I started watching Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefings. I was in good company, as digital viewership of the briefings peaked at nearly 1 million viewers per day.
In “How Cuomo Turned Analytics Into Must-Watch TV”, I posited that the PowerPoint decks that guided Cuomo’s briefings were so compelling because of their narrative power. Every day we were able to get a grip on what was happening, how our current state compared to earlier days and weeks, why changes were happening and who we needed to look to. Humans want to see patterns and create stories to understand the world, and Governor Cuomo’s delivered those things every day.
Apparently, I was not the only one to think so. Earlier in November, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded the governor its International Emmy Founders Award for his briefings. NPR quoted:
“The Governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines and stories of success and failure,” the academy’s president and CEO, Bruce Paisner, explained in a statement announcing the decision. “People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back.”
That sums up exactly why the briefings worked so well. But how did the briefings work for Governor Cuomo? In one Sienna poll from March 30, 87% of New Yorkers approved of his work fighting the coronavirus despite being the hardest-hit state. This further proves that how you present your results is almost as important as the results themselves.