What Has Not Changed In 2020?

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(By Loyd Ford) Covid-19, police brutality, protests, riots, troubles with China, Russia and North Korea. What doesn’t cause worry or challenges for adults in 2020? In radio, we have seen our own revenue drop, rolling layoffs, rifs and more creative language focused on why radio can continue to cut employees. How can you focus on what hasn’t changed?

1. If you work in radio, you’re still responsible for revenue. The use of creativity in radio is powerful. Perhaps there has been too much focus on low hanging fruit and when Covid-19 hit many were suddenly caught flat-footed. When a market becomes challenged, money doesn’t just sit. It flows to where it can be productive: Opportunity. Brainstorm about where that money is flowing in your market in crisis. Look for how money flows as businesses return and the economy cautiously continues to reopen. Build something creative to capture that revenue because being creative and our ability to move rapidly to get that creativity on the air is a secret power for radio.

2. Listeners still love their kids, their mom, dad, family. If you work on a radio brand that works to attract humans, especially adults, you shouldn’t misunderstand the power of these connections and getting closer to your audience by being real on radio and making it clear that you care about their families. This is even more important for some radio formats than others. Know your audience, their lifestyle and what your listeners value.

3. Listeners still want escape. They are tired of Covid-19, look for time to escape their spouse and maybe frustrated with their boss. Perhaps they hate their job. Challenging times are here, my friend. It’s time to refocus radio on helping listeners escape, get away, pull the rip cord. If you do this better than your competitors, your ratings will rise. People need escape more than ever.

4. Listeners still want companionship. We’ve all been isolated. Much of the ‘modern lifestyle’ was isolated before Covid-19 for many, but Coronavirus caught everyone by surprise and the impact was highly isolating. People feel more alone and isolated than at potentially any other time. What are you doing to encourage listeners, make them feel you are with them, that you see them and that you care about them.

5. Radio stations can still benefit from being unique and special and by focusing on what their target listeners want. So much attention is given to distraction. We have Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Google, Pandora, Facebook and a wide variety of other social platforms and technology-based innovations. None of them do radio better than we do. None of them does well at what radio does. Many (if not all of them) have learned they can’t do local at all. Focus on how to make your brand unique and get more active in promoting and being passionate about what makes radio and your brand unlike anything else consumers have access to today.

Here is a concern for radio. If you are not having fun, how do you expect listeners to have fun listening to your radio station? If you don’t feel connected, how do you expect your listeners to feel connected. We find ourselves in a world sometimes where corporations feel if you check all the boxes, you have an acceptable product. Radio isn’t banking. It isn’t streaming. It isn’t Walmart. It’s more than checking boxes and we should get back to it.

Radio has important constituencies in advertisers, communities, listeners and our own employees. Want to fire them all up?

It’s time for radio to go on the offensive using our natural advantages: Radio is hyper-local, creative, rapid and connected. Let’s use our advantages, focus on what hasn’t changed about human behaviors and needs and roll to where the need is for our product.

As adults, you and I consistently face problems. These are not like the challenges of yesterday. These problems of Covid-19 are just the new challenges of the 21st Century. A friend of mine says, “You face problems by using what God gave you. Focus on positives, be nimble, be willing to change your opinions, think differently and use creativity to just keep going.  But just keep going.” Radio is about being mobile. People in the United States are still very mobile. That’s not changed. Focus on our timeless advantages. They haven’t changed. Keep your team going. Let’s go help listeners and clients and keep moving ahead.

Loyd Ford consults radio stations, coaches personalities, and provides behavioral and strategic programming to radio with RPC. Reach him anytime. 864.448.4169 or [email protected]

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