Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Make it Matter On-Air and On Social!

You have approximately 15 seconds to make a first impression.  That is just as true in radio as it is in real life.  The amount of time you are granted after that first 15 seconds depends on how good you are at making what you have to say really matter to that listener. 

On Twitter, you have 140 characters to make your point; Facebook gives you a little more lead way, but in general, the reader does not.   Instagram and Pintrest are all about the pictures for a reason.   The average human (particularly American) has the attention span of a gnat.   When you are concise and creative you will be a better communicator. 

Jacobs Media’s Social expert, Lori Lewis, put it very well in a recent Monday Memo to A&O&B Clients:

“The next time you post socially – pause and really think about your messaging.

  • Is it really of value? Or are you just posting to meet a quota?
  • Does it play to the fans’ passions?
  • Does it emulate their language?
  • Does it acknowledge them in a way that feels personalized?

When every post involves at least one of these factors, you are well on your way to building an active social fan base that is critical for every brand to have today. Self-involved, mediocre social communication is as brand erosive as a bad break.”

Her last line says it all.  You must apply these same criteria to your on-air content breaks.  The next time you prepare a break, pause and really think about your messaging:

  • What is in it for the listener? Is what you have to say of value or are you just talking to fill a break and satisfy the station agenda.
  • Are you expressing an emotion and painting a picture with your words?
  • Are you telling the story in the same way you would tell it to a friend or are you reading it like a story off of the newswire?
  • Have you given the listener a chance to be a part of the break and contribute their viewpoint?
When every live break involves all four of these points, you are well on your way to creating intangible assets that are unduplicatable by any other radio competitor in your market. 
Don’t waste a break doing a back announce/front announce.  Make that moment matter by creating content that solidifies your bond with the listener on a one to one, very personal level.  It is all about the relationship you have with your listeners.  Without that, radio will become just another disposable form of media in an already cluttered world.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Belief is a Powerful Thing

This is a good week to get inspired by the “no doubt; we can do it” mentality of the Seattle Seahawks. This team continues to overcome adversity and accomplish the unexpected; and the beauty of it all is that no one person can, or will, take credit for the wins. It is a team effort all the way. 

It starts at the top with the passion and positive motivation of Coach Pete Carroll. His vision is clearly communicated to the coaching staff and the team. Their willingness to embrace that vision and accomplish the mission is unwavering. They BELIEVE; and you can see how it permeates the entire team in every interview that they do:

Russell Wilson
Doug Baldwin
Richard Sherman
Bruce Irwin

The Seattle Seahawks have formed a unified coalition with a clearly defined mission where each division supports the others. Do you have that same vibe at your radio station? Is there an undeniable positive energy underlying everything that you do?

Granted, it is slightly easier for a Football team since the Superbowl is a very defined and measurable goal. However, there are steps you can take toward instilling that same passion and belief in your team:

  1. Define the station mission.  Be specific in terms of the goals you have for serving the community, your listeners, your advertisers and your staff. 
  2. Make sure that mission is easy to write, distribute and digest.  Repeat the mission often and revisit it at least once per year.
  3. Set specific quarterly goals for Sales, Programming, the Business Office, even the receptionist.   Make sure each Department clearly understands how their department impacts the success of the others. 
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice!  Meetings have been given a bad rap. It is important for people to spend time face to face; to share ideas and concerns.  To develop solutions as a team. 
  5. Set aside 30 minutes each month to review the “wins” in every department.  Encourage all department heads to give public acknowledgement to staff members who assist not only their own department but their fellow teammates in other departments as well.  
There is a reason why people say “never underestimate the power of positive thinking.” When you believe, anything is possible; even the Seattle Seahawks going back to the Superbowl for the second year in a row!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Defend This Hill

One of radio’s advantages is being a trusted and relied upon curator of content for your listeners.   For music stations, the music is the platform for that content distribution.  It is also the foundation that your relationship is built upon.  Listeners find your station because their experience with your music is positive and enriching in their lives.  For successful stations, a deeper relationship develops beyond the music; but music is at the core. 

The CMA Music Discovery Report* (Oct. 31,2014) confirmed that Radio is still the number one source for New Music Discovery (all formats):

However, that number is rapidly declining.  As recently as 2013 it was 67%.  The good news is that your listeners still trust you to find the type of new music they will enjoy.  Most people don’t have, or want to take, the time to become familiar with everything new; there is just too much out there.   They want you to do the work and feed them want is valuable.      

But the competition for sources of music listening is fierce:

Plus, while free music listening still wins by a large margin, the number of sources whittling away at that continue to increase, especially among country fans:

Radio is still at the top of the hill but the attack is fierce and relentless, particularly on the younger end.  So, what are you going to do about it?

If you work in the Programming, Promotions or Digital Department at a current based music station, you MUST immerse yourself in the music.  Pay attention to the trends in new artists and new music.  Choose three or four artists a year who you can introduce to your listeners both on and off the air.  Commit to interviews, live shows, playing their music and featuring them on your social sites.

When the station does “adopt” one of these new artists, take credit for the introduction by using branded intros on songs.  Produce liners and sweepers reminding the listeners that they are hearing “new music first” on your radio station.   Own “new music discovery” in the minds of your listeners. 

On-air talent, particularly morning shows, need to include artist interviews and music in content preparation.  Don’t treat the songs as “filler” between your breaks.  Relate to the music the way the listeners do.  Let them know that you are just as passionate about the music as they are; that you appreciate the fact that they trust you to help them discover what is new and powerful.  
Use your social networking sites to go beyond what you can include on the air.  Become the on-line network where they can share new music discovery with fellow listeners.  Create a community consistent with the brand of your station. 
More than one study has corroborated what the A&O&B Roadmap 2014 tells us about the importance of new music to the country P1’s:
Yes, your station needs to be familiar and hit driven in order to drive cume and TSL; however, you also need to make room for the hits of tomorrow.  Not only will you be delivering on an expectation that your listeners have of the radio station, you are creating the music base that will entice a new generation to stay with your station longer.
*Slides published with permission from the CMA.