Monday, September 01, 2014

"We Don't Have A Strategy Yet"

Creating a solid strategy begins by recognizing when you lack one.

When President Obama was quoted so widely last week, it reminded me of some great advice from John Parikhal, founder of Joint Communications, The Media Fix and Breakthrough Management.

It's also a good time to ask yourself if you have one. 

John calls strategy the outline and says it must be long-term.  “Tactics are the colors that we paint with inside the outline.”

Keys to building an excellent strategy, which I assume the Prez is waiting for from the Pentagon and our potential allies:

1.  ID the win.  Establish a clear long-term goal.
2.  Know the players, both your troops and the enemy.
3.  Sift all available info to focus the plan on reality.
4.  Know the rules of offense, defense, flanking and guerrilla warfare.

Admitting you don’t have a strategy is actually a great place to start building one.  The tools to get it done (for a radio station, since I’ll leave foreign policy to greater minds):

1.  Research
2.  Advertising, promotion and marketing.
3.  Management skills.

The researcher feels every GM should spend 12 hours outside the radio station each month by simply listening to the radio with a different member of his staff and take the morning personality or team for a drive in morning traffic to listen to the radio at least once every 90 days.

Parikhal encourages his clients to learn what motivates your own staff and your listeners psychologically.  Every person is unique.  Figure out what makes each of them tick.

In your workplace, for example:

Drivers        Expressives     Analytics        Amiables
——            ——                 ——               ——
Save time    Save effort       Save face       Save the relationship
Action         Applause          Be right          Trust
Control        Social              Avoid              Support
GM             Talent             Researcher    Sales

He says that “most companies don’t understand Analytics and Amiables, in spite of the fact that they most often are the people who are the “long timers” on every staff.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Buzz-building (Step #2)

Mark Ramsey“Answer these questions:”

1.  Do listeners think we have a terrific radio station, worth telling their friends about?
2.  Can listeners describe what makes our station unique and special, simply and easily?
3.  Does the station always offer something new and exciting?  Is there always something fresh and different?
4.  Are we operating in the spirit of truth, honesty and directness?  Can all of our claims be proven?
5.  Do we know who the “network hubs” are, the opinion leaders on social nets and in person with their friends?
6.  Do we have an ongoing (genuine) dialogue with them, a way for them to be a part of the station?
7.  Do we have a “fan club,” a listener community?
8.  How can we help listeners connect with other listeners?  How do we help listener communities connect with one another?
9.  Does the “Fan Club” advise us on our product?
10.  Do we have “fan” websites, run by listeners?  How can we encourage them?
11.  Are we communicating across social networks?
12.  Have we designed our website to maximize the transmission of buzz?
13.  Do we have surprises?
14.  Can we be outrageous?
15.  Do we take listeners behind the scenes?
16.  Do we stage events to get people talking?
17.  Can “bite size chunks” of our station be given as a ‘gift’ or a “free sample?’
18.  Do we solicit referrals?  Or we reward referrals?
19.  Can we use testimonials and make them credible?
20.  Is our advertising clever enough to build Buzz?
21.  Do we have a well-defined cause that listeners identify with us and rally around?
22.  Are we selling a dream?  Or, a product?

Tomorrow, a worksheet to upgrade your buzz-worthiness.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Building Buzz

Mark Ramsey did a terrific presentation a few years ago at CRS on “How To Build A Buzz Plan.”  Here’s a brief replay.

Step #1 - using buzz to your advantage

Are we buzz-worthy?

1.  Are we that good?
2.  What’s NEW?
3.  Is the station easy to talk about?
4.  Authenticity rules.  Make only claims you can support.
5.  Find network “hubs” (influencers in your social circle)
6.  Get those "huggers" involved in your radio station.
7.  Give away “free samples,” bite-size audio and video chunks of your radio station.
8.  Be outrageous and surprising.
9.  Fight for a well-defined cause (see ice buckets for ALS - but once it gets that big, you may not be able to "own" it.  Best to create your own local events.)
10.  Build a listener community.  Grease the wheels of buzz starting with them at live and online events.

A plan to get you to "10 out of 10," starts tomorrow.

Monday, August 25, 2014

How's Your PR?

Do you have regular contact with all of the media people who tend to write about radio?

If not, put together a group meeting with as many of your talent and management team as possible and "meet the press" as a group.  They are reporters.  All it will take is for you to pay for the nibbles and beverages.

Don't do it until you have "news" for them.  Write a press release with the who, what, where, when, why and how.  Include your contact name and number.  Plan on starting with a "statement" about what you're doing that you hope they cover.  Take questions.

If some people you had hoped would cover your event didn't show, recognize that news is fluid and what one day may be a huge story for them may get eclipsed on another.  Reach out to them personally and make sure they have your press release and know that you're available to questions at any time.

If you need "judges" for the event you're doing, invite well-known media people to serve in that capacity or guest on your show to talk about their events.  Build a positive relationship.

Look for a fresh angle on older items.  It's not "news" if it's not fresh and current.

TV needs a visual.  If there's no visual aspect to your story, don't be surprised that TV skips it.  Plan for "video-friendly" events.  Give your television station friends first crack at it, but if they don't go with it, post it to your own website and You Tube.  Send them a link to that so they know what they missed and understand that you wanted them to have it before your posted it.

Follow-up on your promotions.  Do a "wrap-up" meeting that includes as many of your staff as possible.  Ask them to think about anything that seemed to go especially well or fell through the cracks, including how your press coverage went.  Take exhaustive notes for review before you do anything next time.

Treat the press as if you know they are very important.  Never lie to them.  If something goes wrong, you'll increase your cred for future events if you quickly get the facts out to them.  They have the power to embarrass you, to say the very least.

If you're not sure how to handle something, hire a respected local press agent to guide you.  Study how they do things and learn.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Studying The Target

“Focus,” as author Al Ries (and his daughter in the years since) has been preaching (he wrote a great book on it) is the key to owning a category in a prospect’s mind. 

Also, the focus needs to be on the needs of the user not the product you’re hoping to sell. 

That starts by getting to know who it is you want to listen to your radio station.

Otherwise, you're guilty of "fire, ready. aim."

Odds are you are either younger or older than they are.  So, what can you do to create a reality-based picture that will prove to be effective?
  • Join a local service club that attracts members of your target.
  • Volunteer at a local charity as a worker.
  • Join a church, synagogue or other religious organization. 
  • Take a course at an adult school (not college).
  • Talk to listeners on Facebook, Twitter and other social nets and get involved in the activities the folks who are your target age care about.
  • Take a day “off” the air and live like your listener does.
  • Visit places where they work.
  • Go to lunch where your listeners go.  Not just one time, just routinely.
Look for folks who listen to your radio station and get to know them.

Live the demo.

Maintain the sympathetic reaction for consistent listenership.

Have a staff meeting and assign everyone to do these things.

Then, reconvene to talk as a group about what everyone observed and learned.

What more can everyone do to become a “real” companion?

After completing these steps, you're ready to aim and then "fire."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Wrong Profession

I don't care so much about the ones who won't do the work; the people who sign up with The Jock Doc, pay their money and expect that just by talking with me for fifty minutes a week, they'll somehow improve.

No, the ones who really get to me are those who practice and think and do their assignments, and yet, after six weeks together, I'm pretty sure they'll never make it as radio personalities.

I'd be the last one to tell them that, and it's not because I'm afraid to hurt their feelings; it's because there's an old radio truism: everybody in this business, me included, has had one person along the way to say to them, "You're never going to make it in radio." I don't want to be that person in anyone's life. I don't want anyone spending the next ten years proving me wrong. Sometimes those students I fear may be "hopeless" just may find their stride, just may overcome their problems, just may end up highly successful radio personalities. I can be wrong.

In cases like these, I want to be wrong.

That said, I'd like to review some of the characteristics I find among jocks that makes me reasonably sure they're in the wrong career...

Foremost among these are people who can't speak well. Radio seems to attract them, almost as though they sense they have this small speech defect, and are determined to have a career where their success will prove there's nothing wrong with them.

It's uncanny how many entry-level jocks you hear who can't pronounce the suffix "ing." Pointing it out doesn't help much; try as they may, it always seems to come out "een."

I don't think it's a question of motivation or will. No, I have to believe that there are some people who are physically incapable of saying "ing." Is it because their motor control is somehow flawed, or could it be a perceptual problem that springs from the way they hear? I really just don't know.

I want to avoid spending much time teach people how to talk. My principal thrust is to help you focus on whom you're talking to and how to reach him/her. Nonetheless, there I find myself, working on pronouncing words, instead of on conveying thoughts. It seems, so often, like a hopeless task.

Can they succeed in radio?

Maybe -- if they're unique enough, appealing enough -- sure; I'm willing to believe anyone can make it if he or she has enough talent and individuality going for them. But that's not the way I'd bet...

There are others you hear once, and just know they're in the wrong profession -- or at least the wrong area of it. These are people who are emotionally flat, for instance. Often they're lovely folks. They just don't excite you. They operate at a lower level, emotionally. Successful performing, be it on the stage or behind a microphone, requires a high level of emotional expressiveness. Some of it gets lost in the transfer, so that unless I start out more emotional than "normal," by the time you perceive it, I sound flat.

You can tell these people they ought to be more emotional, but if they're truly operating at a less excited level than you or I -- as opposed to just needing permission to express what's really there -- all you get is more sing-song speech, which sounds a little less than credible. Like the way you sound, after the PD has told you to "pick up the pace."

Not everybody is cut out to be a radio personality. It's hard to know who just needs more time, and who ought to quit before he or she wastes any more. Often, these people, who are hard-working and dedicated to radio, eventually end up in sales, engineering and management; I think that's great. I'd hate for our business to lose anyone who cares so much about it.

Sometimes years go by before they realize, on their own, that they've been kidding themselves; we waste so much time growing up. My only point is to get you asking yourself these questions: "Given enough time and hard work, do I have the talent and the physical abilities to earn a good living as a radio personality? Or is there some fundamental problem which will hold me back, no matter how hard I work at it?"

The answer requires a great deal of self-honesty. But then, so does success as a performer.

    --by Jay Trachman, circa 1995 

Get More Remotes/Appearances

Talent fees can be a nice “extra” bonus, and it seems like certain air personalities have a few secrets that make them the one that clients request more than everyone else.
  1. Ask for a tour of the business in advance.  You’ll be better able to talk about ‘behind the scenes’ stories you pick up.
  2. Find out direct from the boss/manager what main points they want to make during your broadcast.
  3. Never ask “how’s it going?”  Seldom will a client tell talent that things are going terrifically and they are making tons of money.  They’re afraid you’ll ask for a higher rate next time.  Asking for “strokes” during the live appearance is just setting yourself up for a negative.
  4. Become expert at “small talk.”  Be positive.
  5. Schmooze the employees of the business.  If they like you and feel you did a good job, the boss will probably hear about it.
  6. If you’re having fun with their customers, the employees at the business will notice.  Your gig is to create an atmosphere where folks are enjoying themselves.  When they are, they’re more apt to spend some money.
  7. Don’t hoard the key chains, coloring  books, refrigerator magnets, six packs of soda, etc.  Offer them to the people who came out because you asked them to.  You want them to perceive you as generous and giving.  The freebees should be handed out by the air personality and no one else.  Make them the last thing you put away after the broadcast ends.
Commercial appearances are not the time to do stunts.  It’s simply an opportunity to do informative and entertaining live spots from a remote location.  Use the built-in ambience to enhance your cut-in’s.  Create some excitement.  Show your personality in the confines of something that’s usually a tune-out.

Achieve that, and you'll make them more effective.  That's how to get invited back many, many times.