Refocusing Post Pandemic By Andy Meadows

Out of necessity many groups have been forced to make cuts, furlough employees or reduce wages across the board to stay afloat. This pandemic has also caused us to take a hard look at what roles are essential within our organizations. But, as light slowly begins to appear at the end of the tunnel, we should take this opportunity to consider restructuring our radio groups to better position them to compete for ad dollars in the years to come. 

Part of the challenge existing stations face is figuring out how to create content for all their new digital platforms with a staff that was built around creating on-air content. Many groups have ten to twenty people responsible for creating on-air programming within a market but still rely on a single employee to handle the bulk of their digital content. That’s why over the past few years we’ve seen multiple groups start creating positions like Content Managers, Digital PDs, and Brand Managers to help refocus their staff on digital. 

This refocusing can be done by retraining, restructuring, outsourcing or a combination of all three depending on a group’s specific circumstances. Asking ourselves this question can help. How would I structure my radio station if I started it from scratch today? What positions would I hire first, how would I allocate my budget and what would the organizational chart look like? 

Retraining: If a group is lucky enough to have programmers and on-air staff that are digital savvy a heavy focus on retraining that existing staff could be enough. Working with the ops managers and program directors to help them lead by example and create some of their own content while setting the expectations for their staff. Then teaching that on-air staff to incorporate digital into their prep process and ensure that their utilizing each platform to drive traffic to the other before, during and after their shows. To be clear, I’m not suggesting we should force employees to create content they don’t have an aptitude for, I’m suggesting evaluating employees to determine what kind of content they would be best suited to create and encouraging that. 

Restructuring: Hiring a digital savvy employee from outside the industry and just lumping them into an existing structure is better than nothing, but it’s really just a patch. Often that leads to the rest of the staff dumping all of their own digital responsibilities onto that person and it ends up being counter-productive. A better way to restructure is to evaluate our existing staff, create an org chart based on if we were starting the group today, figure out the position or two we could realistically hire within our budget locally and outsource any gaps. 

Outsourcing: Today in our remote-working, gig economy, anything can be outsourced. Copywriters, blog writers, graphic designers, photographers, videographers, video editors, and social content creators can all be hired for reasonable rates to supplement what the local staff is doing. 

When we’re putting a station on the air we evaluate the market to determine which shifts we need to fill live to be competitive. Then we supplement that with voicetracked or syndicated shows. To get our share of digital dollars we should assess how big our total digital audience needs to be. Figuring out how many pageviews we need to get monthly on our websites, how many social followers we need, podcast downloads and app users. Based on that we can determine how much original content we should create every week. Then, by incentivizing and rewarding our staff we set a goal for creating that content in-house and, if necessary, we set aside a budget to supplement that with freelancers and outside content creators. 

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