Use The Holidays For Personal Research
December 1, 2015
Opportunities to learn are all around us and the holidays offer a lot of chances to find out if all the research data available matches reality. We in radio have so much information at our fingertips to make decisions; perceptual, callout, auditorium tests, Media Monitor, RAB studies, NAB studies, Nielsen studies, PPM analysis, Diary reviews, audience streaming reports, revenue studies, digital studies, music studies, social media impact studies, Shazam data, consumer research, research on the effects of research, etc.
All research is good, interpretation and implementation is usually the problem. That's why it's important to apply our ears and eyes to all the data swirling around. It is all about getting more listeners to listen and/or consume all aspects of media that affect the bottom line.
'Tis the Season
PDs and personalities should try to take part in as many non-industry holiday events as possible to take advantage of mingling with the research subjects better known as people. Yes, everyday regular folks who we desperately try to understand for the purposes of making a buck. Pay close attention at Christmas parties, holiday plays at schools or Community Theater. Keep a sharp eye on Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Chat -- pictures, videos, and words which might give you some insight on the listeners.
People are more than test subjects; they are actual human beings who sometimes reveal more about themselves in natural settings. Everyday interaction can go a long way in research interpretation.
I can remember one of my jocks telling me about this crazy song the DJ at a wedding kept playing and how the folks kept laughing, dancing, and requesting all night. I checked with my MD, who noticed a few random requests for the song. He dug around, found it, and we listened. It seemed like a novelty thing to both of us. But, just in case, I purposely started playing it in my office as background music for everyone who came to my office. Just about everyone could not leave my office without acknowledging how much fun the song was and a lot asked if I had seen the dance.
My instinct told me that in order to be on top of this, I better jump on this novelty song because there were enough indications that its popularity was quickly spreading by word of mouth. The song was "The Macarena." Pay attention to people and apply all the information coming your way. Holidays are a great time to observe consumers.
List of Potential Holiday Interactions with Regular People:
- Attend school events for family, friends and neighbors; lots of holiday plays and activities at every level of education take place this time of year.
- Shopping at malls and lurking around the food court is a great place to observe and hear things.
- On a Saturday, visit a new barbershop or beauty shop for something minor that will not tick off the regular person you see for hair grooming. Listen and maybe even redirect conversation to a number of non-controversial subjects.
- Check the Internet or a local newspaper for holiday fairs or gatherings. Remember, this is about hearing and seeing what typical radio listeners are doing and talking about.
- Take a part-time job where you have to interact with the public. I once had a PM drive personality who would do this during Christmas. She said it kept her grounded; I suspect it also helped her communications skills on the air as well.
- Go on a listening expedition at a Starbucks or whatever coffee shop is available
- Truck stops are filled with average guys talking, eating, and just being themselves.
- There is a lot of holiday volunteer work available at local churches and community centers. People are in the spirit of talking and sharing thoughts.
- Fitness clubs are great, if you don't belong to one, many offer day passes or trial memberships. The best place to socialize is at places with whirlpools, steam rooms, and saunas. It is real easy to strike up a conversation or listen to others.
- This time of year there are festivals, fairs, and tree lighting ceremonies. Tons of families enjoying and interacting.
- If you are a former gym rat, the YMCA, Community Centers, a playground, or any old gymnasium will do. All ages, races, and religions gather to play. It is a perfect setting to hear about trends, music, and life.
Being a personality or programmer requires constant observation. It is so easy to get in the bubble and lose sight of real people using media. Balance the gobs of statistical information with what is going on around you in the real world. Staying in touch with our fellow human beings could make a difference with what goes out over the air.