As we bounce back from the pandemic, we’re all being asked to do more with less. Budgets are tight, new personnel are hard to come by and in the midst of that we’re all trying to transition our business models to succeed in this digital age we’ve already entered. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we’re purposeful and strategic with everything we do on-air, online, on social, on-site, within the building and outside of it with remote workers.
That starts with evaluating how we’re all spending our time each week and the cost/benefit of that time investment. Programming-wise most stations have given in to some level of internal programming, allowing their staff to focus a disproportionate amount of time on specific programming. That may be an air talent who’s more focused on a specialty show or one specific feature that’s considerably more important to them than the average listener. It could also be a PD or Music Director who spends hours upon hours going through music and talking to record reps and promoters, instead of just following the data. To be fair though, that internal focus of spending more time and energy on the parts of the business we enjoy can creep into any department within a station. One thing that can help on the sales side is updating the media kit so it becomes a tool everyone wants to use, eliminating the 30% or so of our one sheets that are outdated or rarely used so there’s less clutter to wade through and structuring each account executives day to play to their individual strengths. I’ve also never seen a group that doesn’t have at least one meeting a week that could’ve just been an email and another bad habit is including everyone in meetings that should probably just be department heads.
Now that we’ve eliminated and cut back on some of the things that are unnecessarily filling up our weeks, it’s time to experiment strategically and purposefully. When we’re coming up with a new feature to try on air, I always counsel on-air personalities to try it for a while and see if it works. To give us time see how the audience engages with it and also to verify that it’s something they can realistically execute on a regular basis before we set it in stone as a daily, or even weekly, benchmark. The same sort of approach can apply to any new initiative we want to incorporate within the company. In a time of transition, we’re going to have to experiment. But, understanding that budgets are tight, there aren’t a ton of chances to miss on those experiments. So, we have to be strategic and purposeful with every single new thing we venture into while at the same time being willing to bail on something if it’s clearly not working. A great recent example of that was CNN+, the cable news giant’s attempt to launch a new streaming platform to compete with the hundred others we’re all already paying for (Slight exaggeration). Despite investing $300 million, the data quickly told them that they’d missed the mark from a programming standpoint, and they pulled the plug. They were the butt of a few jokes for a week, but in the long run I imagine that will prove to be a much better decision than stubbornly sticking with something that wasn’t working. Plus, I imagine they’ll retool and relaunch it later under a different brand. Similarly, in this new digital age, there are going to be things that we try to implement in radio that fail to catch on and catch eyes and ears for impressions and therefore we struggle to monetize. But, that shouldn’t keep us from trying anything new as long as we focus on always evaluating what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and why, with the end goal of attracting as much of an audience as possible and generating more revenue with each passing year.
In this business, we’re in constant competition for every listener and ad dollar and the playing field is much more level than it used to be budget-wise. Like the game of chess pictured above, the player who’s more purposeful and strategic with each move will win the match 100 times out of 100. We just have to make sure that’s us instead of the competition.
What do you think? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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