Strategic Imaging By Andy Meadows

Every station I’ve worked for, or with, over the years has said the same thing when discussing imaging, ‘We need a lot more imaging.’ They all feel like their programming staff isn’t cranking out enough imaging because they’re ‘hearing the same ones’ too often on the station. Let’s set aside the fact that, similar to the turnover of current music, station staff will always be the first people bothered by the repetition of anything on the station because their listening habits are vastly different from the average listener. In reality most stations don’t need more imaging, they need more strategic imaging. Rarely is it the case that the volume is the issue, typically the bigger issue is that the imaging the station is currently running isn’t accurately defining and selling the key benefits of said station. 

Writing and producing strategic imaging starts by first identifying the three to five key benefits the station is offering its listeners. To do that we have to step back and analyze the market and take a realistic look at what our stations are offering versus the competition. For most music-based stations those key benefits will typically be a point of difference on the music, how the station engages with the listener through contesting/events/content, how to get the station’s content on other platforms and what the station is doing to localize and regionalize its content and programming. 

As a writer and someone who truly enjoys writing imaging, I’ve often fallen prey to the pressure to sit down and crank out multiple pages of creative imaging every month. That process would generally lead me to come up with some really creative, funny, well-worded imaging pieces that were too lengthy to air, especially for longer periods of time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to freshen up imaging regularly as long as that imaging focuses on selling those key benefits to the listener and fits the pacing and style of the station. 

The style that seems to be working the best right now for all new music stations is short, sweet and to the point. With a push to tighten on-air breaks and shorten commercial stop sets, along with the fast pacing established by the music, the last thing we should do is stop down for any long-form imaging. Not only does that apply to imaging between the records, but also station promos going into and out of breaks. Ideally those station promos would be broken into multiple short form imaging pieces to run between songs, or if you have to, in or out of the stopsets. 

But what do you think, how do you strategically image your station and what style works best? Comment below or email your thoughts to me at andy@radiostationconsultant.com.

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