Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Art of Being Authentic

Being Authentic is one of those magical qualities that can make anything suddenly desirable.  You see it in nearly every brand, product, entertainment venue, media and personality somewhere.  The ones that can hold on to this perception are the ones that usually win in the consumer's images and desires.    

So how do you capture this unique trait in your images with the audience?  It's not an easy one to grasp.  You can't just claim that that your brand or personality is authentic -- you have to earn it.  To earn it you have to remain true to the core images of the brand. You also have to deliver the product at a pretty high standard for enough time to be recognized.  

The key to executing a plan that captures the Authentic image is to build a list of the most important qualities and traits that are the core or foundation for the brand.  Once you have those don't compromise them. Also build your imaging around those qualities, but be careful not to over claim or over-hype.  

Much like leadership or humor being Authentic is something you earn.   You can't buy it, inherent it or just claim it.  But, once you have it you often have a quality that goes beyond the superficial and that's where the magical power comes in.  

As you set your values in Music, Imaging, Promotions, and the Personalities that make up your station and brand take a long look at the core qualities -- they are your key to achieving Authenticity.  

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Making Plans Into Reality

The biggest challenge working with stations often lies in making all the great ideas and plans we come up with into reality.  For programmers most of the tasks that get great ideas and improvements on the air revolve around 4 areas:

  1. Music Systems - Getting your scheduling system completely organized, working efficiently, and in sync with your library.  Keeping up with the trends, new music (if you play it), resting/platooning, feature programs, weekend specials, and local events (concerts etc.) all take organization, understanding of the software and constant review.   
  2. Air Staff - Keeping their momentum, training, critiquing, and show prepping are all crucial keys to turning voices into personalities.  You need a plan for everyone on your team and you have to keep working this plan to have any progress. 
  3. Imaging - This is the soul of the station's sound and your biggest opportunity to work the audience.  You can recycle them, build images for your important station values, promote events/contests,  increase your web presence and entertain with the content between the songs and around the spots.  But, you have to constantly work at it - great imaging doesn't just fall from the sky.  So often we see spurts of work in this area.  Every 3-4 months we update it, when we should have been working on it every week.   
  4. Promotion - Marketing - Building promotions, events and community presence.

When you break it down to 4 areas now you can get a handle on implementing the goals and tasks that lead to great ideas hitting the air.  The key is finding a reliable organization system - a few ideas:  

  •  Go at it daily.   Make Monday - Music Day, Tuesday Air Staff Day, Wednesday - Imaging and work promotions on Thursday.  Every week you tackle your list in each area.  
  • Go weekly - 1st week of the month is all about Promotions, the 2nd week imaging, 3rd for the Air Staff and music in the final week. 
  • Divide up your day - An hour for the Air Staff, 1/2 hour for imaging, 1/2 hour for music, an hour for promotions and sales.   
Sometimes picking one of these organization systems depends on how big the challenges are in each department and also the style of the programmer.   If you are building a morning show from scratch and they are still learning the basics it might be a daily effort for them along with taking 1 day a week and working for a couple of hours on their show.   If you've just got a music test in or are overhauling your systems it might be something you need to spend a whole week on.   Getting ready for the book or a packed summer of promotions/events might mean spending 2-3 days focusing on getting everything set to go.   

We also see lots of programmers juggling multiple stations and having to make this model work on multiple platforms making it more confusing and challenging.   

The important point here is have an organization plan.  Not just a bunch of meetings on your Outlook calendar, but an overall theme/focus to a period of time on a regular basis.  Now you can concentrate on executing in that area to get the job done - not just pick at a few items and really never accomplish the task.  It takes time and focus to get it done.