Brand Building With Big, Bold Events
October 1, 2013
The truly great radio stations in our industry, the icons, are like gigantic cruise ships. Docked at port, they're a hunk of steel, which overpower the senses. But, set to sail on the high seas and you see their majesty.
A dozen years ago, I was invited to join the small team of radio people helping to guide the Children's Miracle Network to develop a program, focused on radio and radio talent, to take on the cause of local kids by raising money for their local children's hospital. To set them to sail by proving how powerful and majestic they are. To bring them to a place they'd yet traveled by doing something big.
As a programmer, I'd long believed in the power of focus and the implications on a radio station's brand image of serving the community. Radio talent must show their emotional depth to survive in a long-term relationship with the audience. This did that.
Twelve years and 180 radio stations later, we prove the power of local radio and the value of supporting kids with every Children's Miracle Network radio event.
I preach in the coaching of radio personalities the importance of causes as part of their arsenal in building loyalty with listeners. Of owning turf. To believe in something with all your heart and communicate that to the audience so they care about you. And of doing good in the community, believing that the positive you get back are listeners who shift from liking you to loving you. Elevating radio talent to take care of kids in the community shows that emotional depth which results in higher ratings and more revenue.
Simply put, proving that local radio matters.
In an age of PPM, we've grown cautious out of fear that anything big we do will turn off listeners. Yet, the only messages that cut through are those that are big. Only in jumping in the deep end will it allow you to stand out and be sticky as a brand.
For me, kids generally, and the Children's Miracle Network specifically, do this.
When we started the program, we had certain strategic goals: to elevate the radio station's talent; to infuse in the brand a sense of community service; and to help local listeners see that we take care of those people in our backyards. We wanted to humanize the brand thus giving listeners more reasons to feel good about the station so they chose it more often throughout the year because of that relationship.
In our time coaching our partner radio stations we've met every single brand growth goal as evidenced by studies with Coleman Insights (seen here).
It's the classic struggle between mumbo verses jumbo. Radio stations and morning shows can sometimes become a collection of little things; all good, but add up to no image. Go big, be bold, shoot for the moon. Then you'll have your best chance of standing for good, defining who you are, and what you believe in through the cause. Jumbo communicates passion, values, and a point-of-view. Jumbo is noticed and rewarded.
It's not good enough for radio shows to just be entertaining. As I've coached shows in markets large and small, what works is to show one's humanity and compassion.
The big, bold events done by and for local CMN Hospitals prove that if you clear out all those little things that don't add up (the mumbo if you will), for the one big thing that does, you'll stand out and be noticed. In this cluttered world of choices, that ends up being a good thing.
Great radio is art, with lots of judgment calls to balance brand growth and tactical PPM decisions to retain an audience. Brand images still matter, regardless of where shows originate, if you want to be viable and successful as the competitive terrain changes around you. Positive images lead to ratings that lead to revenue. Being local and caring for kids are two of those images that are critical for a win. CMN Hospital radio events prove this.
See some results of our Coleman studies and how local radio still matters here.