What Are They Hiring You For?

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Consultant Tips” series, written by Charese Fruge on September 1, 2020 

In a recent conversation with a colleague of mine we were trying to pick apart the differences between two very high performing similar radio brands in the same market. It was part of a brainstorming session to write copy and creative for an upcoming marketing campaign for one of the stations. A task like this is one of the most difficult things to do in this business, unless you are lucky enough to have a cash give away to market, since the word “cash” is literally ear $$$ right now. If you have no cash, you really only have a few things to work with: Morning Show, At-Work listening, personality, and maybe digital extensions of the brand since we are now living in the “Participation Age,” according to Iris Worldwide, a global consulting group specializing in connecting media with consumers. That basically means “realtime engagement.”

You can’t really focus on music in a current format as a distinction anymore because the music is all the same. Distinguishing brands from one another is becoming harder and harder with Corporate ownership, and the perception that you can take one high performance brand out of one market and put it on the air in another. It isn’t working. It never did. Nor can you expect that voice tracked talent from another market will be successful when it isn’t live and local.

That means when you are working on a campaign to expand a brand, whether it’s a radio brand, or your own personal brand, you really have to start from the very beginning. Remember the days of identifying the primary target demo? First we named the gender, person, age, needs and wants, then we came up with a strategy to target that specific person and hoped for the best. Well, it’s probably time to go back and do that again, but this time, you need to take into consideration the drastic changes in the lives of your audience since COVID-19 hit and how that has impacted listeners and consumer wants and needs.

After hours of overthinking and trying to get my creative juices flowing for the campaign, I had to go back and do some research and I discovered an article posted by Entercom’s EVP/Corporate Business Development, Tim Murphy, “What Do Milk Shakes and Audio Content Have In Common?

The gist of the column was that there were many similarities between the purpose of a McDonald’s milk shake, and audio content. Both keep people engaged during long commutes and job shifts. Both engage people while their eyes and bodies are otherwise occupied. “Driving, waiting in line, folding laundry, cleaning the house, taking public transport, exercising, doing yard work, paying bills are just a few of the prime listening moments,” according to Murphy. And while the article was mostly geared toward audio “Advertising” and the milk shake similarities with audio content, what I took away was actually, from a programming and brand stand point, a strategy that’s a lot easier than what we as programmers (and sometimes consultants) make it out to be.

It’s very simple: What are your listeners hiring you to do when they choose your radio station? What job qualifications or expectations do they have of you? If you are talent, what do they expect you to deliver? If you can identify at least three main job qualifications listeners have for hiring you, then you should be able to come up with a very creative campaign. But those three qualifications must distinguish you or your brand from the rest. Here are some examples:

Job Qualifications:

    • Must have consistent Morning Show with characters relatable to primary target demo who provide live and local entertainment based on everyday life and pop culture of market and demo. Identify how your morning show meets (or should meet) these expectations.

 

    • Must provide companionship with light entertainment and music in the background during the workday to help relieve the anxiety and feelings of isolation from working from home or the office in the middle of a pandemic. How does your station or brand do this?

 

    • Individual personalities must provide a unique relatable presentation that’s relevant to the current environment. Is your midday personality trying to navigate the single life during COVID-19 or is your afternoon personality trying to balance both a job and parenting from home? What’s the glue holding the station together that gets you through the entire day?

 

  • And let’s not overlook digital extension as a job qualification. I mentioned the “Participation Age” above, which is something I discovered in a Jacob’s Media Blog entitled “Is Radio Ready For The Era Of Live?” Another good column about where we are headed as an industry.

I use to work with a morning show that did a segment called “Murder Monday” (on a music station) and as much as it made my stomach turn, I could not deny that it was a home run for the team. Not only were their ratings good during the segment, but the podcasting and social media interaction had record breaking numbers and was worth marketing and using as a selling point for the show. Since the onset of COVID-19, talent have had to get creative to come up with content outside of their traditional shows to help generate digital revenue. If it’s moving the needle digitally then sell it as a reason that you are more qualified for the job than other brands.

As we as an industry continue to navigate through the pandemic, jobs are being consolidated, responsibility and pressure are increasing and it’s hard to be as creative as we’d like when we’re on the inside looking out. The best way to handle a good creative challenge when it comes to marketing and expanding your brand, is to take a step back and ask yourself “What exactly are they hiring me to do?” If you can answer that question, then you can focus and put together a creative winning strategy.