Great Story Arcs for 2014
October 8, 2013
A story arc is an extended or continuing storyline that in most cases run for 3- 4 weeks because this time frame allows you the best chance to change listening patterns. You need to allow time for "recall and talk" to become a factor.
The goal of story arc radio is to drive cume/reach into the morning show.....then additional tune ins across the day.... and back into mornings.
Strong story arcs have massive emotional swings and force opinion. They cannot be ignored.
In 2014 great radio stations will take the story arc principle to a new levels with even deeper levels of engagement ....
Let's look at story arc must have's.....and Kevin Spacey has led us perfectly to this point:
A great story arc will have not just interesting but also endearing characters that we get to know in immense detail.
Characters that will make us empathize and care about what happens to them throughout their journey.
And.....not only endearing but deplorable characters as well. This is the disruption factor.
Characters we WANT something bad to happen to. This adds that x factor to any great story and allows listeners to converse about their views on who are the good guys and who are the villains.
Our audience then talks and embellishes on the storyline with their own imaginations.....what's happened, what will happen next, what should happen and what shouldn't happen.
In addition to the great cast of characters...another vital component is the story arc itself. .....the premise...and the plot.....this needs to be new or different.
It's simply not as easy to find yourself on the edge of your seat if you've seen the same movie with different names and a few different catch-phrases used by our main characters.
With radio story arc these twists and turns are the disruption that generates the talk.
Are we listening to this feeling like it could happen to us? Is it real, is it compelling....does it evoke some kind of emotion, does it suck you in..... ........do you care........?
Or worse....have listeners decided......and turned off? Is it a Crocodile Dundee 2?
Is the premise powerful?
Is the teasing tantalising?
Is there a real sense of excitement and expectation?
Reality radio has been around for 10 years now so most stations have done the basic stuff now............but in 2013 the really great story arcs are either;
- A first or in some way unique ..... help a listener to search the world for their twin.
- Involve new technology (eg..... giving away 1D tickets, but the treasure hunt takes place only via Twitter .....)
- Outlandish and push the boundaries of what we know, think or believe..........new boobs for a listener and their mum or an air talent "life swap" as in the clip below!
So where it can it all go wrong........think movies or TV again...............
An action movie that tries to fit too much philosophy into it usually ends up losing viewers due to the fact that they came to the theatre to watch explosions and action.
It's all about context and depth.
An example of a movie that keeps us invested in the characters is "Pulp Fiction." The characters put in play don't just feed us lines to make us feel the adrenaline rush we require from the genre but they pull on different heart strings throughout. We find ourselves torn over their decisions, fearing not only for them but for us as well.
They make us question how we once felt about certain situations and it doesn't just terrify us, it intrigues us.
So for 2014, Story Arcs will again be a powerful tool to get morning shows and station ratings up.
We will encourage 2-3 longer form executions per year (like date my dad) but to really spike content we will also be suggesting multiple shorter form story arcs.....
Arcs that may run a week .............or they may run 1-2 days a week for a month or longer ............
The reason for this is twofold..........
- Firstly we are seeing this approach is really getting traction and is setting specific appointment listening(think about how TV promotes weekly show like Revenge or The Black List ...).Stations that embrace this form of content really maximise their content.
- We burn through too much content........up to 9-10 potential content arcs per morning show!!
Really define and spend time on brainstorming these story arc traits.
Common traits for great story arc radio.
A strong premise that evokes emotion.
A great cast including a hero and villain.
Primal themes like anger and lust.
A critical path with various twists and turns.
A false climax.
A compelling conclusion.
A moral to the story.
A follow up to the story.
Listen, Watch, Share attributes throughout.