I’ve spent the majority of my radio career as the guy tasked with setting the parameters that help build and protect station brands. As a creative person that wasn’t an easy role for me to adapt to. I much prefer being the guy who brainstorms a firehose of ideas at someone else and lets them weed out the ones we can act on and which ones are too far-fetched. So it wasn’t by brilliant design that I developed a method for putting a positive spin on shooting down other’s ideas, but rather a personal need to channel that creativity of mine somewhere so I didn’t turn into that disgruntled manager who just says no to seemingly everything and ultimately ends up in a place where people simply stop coming to them with ideas all-together.
There’s an art to keeping creative people happy and encouraged to keep cranking out ideas in a radio environment that’s not always receptive to them because of budgets and tightly programmed stations. That’s why often managers end up in one of two camps, letting employees who are very passionate about something do whatever they want so they remain passionate and productive (Which leads to a station programmed to an audience of one), or defaulting to simply starting with no to virtually every idea that enters their office (Which as aforementioned eventually leads to no ideas entering.)
In my experience, these are the best steps to take to find the proper balance between those two camps.
1) Try not to fall in love with our own ideas.
2) Adopt a best idea wins philosophy forgetting hierarchy, experience and skins on the wall when we’re within the brainstorming process.
3) Don’t force employees to think small to fit within budgets and the station’s (Group’s) ability to realistically execute things. Instead start with the big idea, swing for the fences and, if necessary, channel it back to something easier to pull off.
4) Balance any meeting where creative brainstorming is necessary with close to an equal share of creatives and critics.
5) When we have to push back, we should do our best to never say “No” and instead say “No, but” followed by an alternative that we can do similar to or building off of their original idea.
6) Be selective about what we try to execute but don’t throw out any good idea, simply put it in the pipeline for later or work it into an existing project that needs a refresh.
7) Don’t default to doing things the same way year after year simply because it’s worked in the past. Always keep thinking of new ways to refresh, rebrand and re-energize existing features and promotions.
8) Finally, give others the credit whenever possible.
What do you think? How do you find that balance between protecting a brand and keeping the ideas flowing? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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