LAS VEGAS — Historically, broadcasters and podcasters have been dismissive of each other. If you make your living talking on transmitters you might regard webcasters as a shadow medium, minor league hobbyists talking topics of insufficient appeal to warrant AM/FM distribution.
Conversely, some internet self-publishers regard AM radio’s snap-crackle-pop and any transmitter’s geographical and audio-only limitations – and radio’s homogenized programming – as old school (though they sure do envy broadcasters’ advertising sales).
That thing-in-your-pocket-we-used-to-call-a-phone is the hardware; and the burgeoning, enthused community that populates this particular convention is the software. As continuously as that hardware evolves, so does the software, and this event. A dozen years ago, in hard-copy TALKERS magazine, I reported from “The Podcast and Portable Media Expo,” then the “Blogworld” it morphed into before re-branding as “New Media Expo” (“NMX”).
“Consumers should decide which technology business uses, not the other way around.”
NMX keynoter Scott Stratten, unmarketing.com, author of highly recommended QR Codes Kill Kittens: How to Alienate Customers, Dishearten Employees, and Drive Your Business into the Ground (Wiley)
Meanwhile, at radio’s remaining conventions, you’ve seen this parlor trick: The provocative speaker will ask a show of hands: “Who has a phone with you?” Then, “And who has A RADIO in your pocket or purse?” Only beaming Art Vuolo proudly raises his hand. God bless him. And for a dozen years now, you’ve heard our publisher Michael Harrison describe what he terms “the media station.”
Smell the coffee?
Logic dictates that we publish to the device people are toting, if only in-addition-to feeding the transmitter, although streaming simulcast sure isn’t broadcasters’ best use of the digital multimedia press.
At the NMX opener, in a large Rio Convention Center ballroom, there were more attendees sitting on the floor (overflow) than we’ve lately seen sitting in chairs at radio convention sessions. None of these NMX attendees are playing Beyoncé; and whenever a speaker says “talk radio,” he/she half-pauses, because, to this audience, it’s a punch line, a caricature. You might not think bloggers’/podcasters’ topics could fill a phone booth in your market, but they could easily fill a Starbucks there — maybe an auditorium.
And they’re not just talking to your geographical area. And they are not merely, as clichéd station imaging assures, “talking-about what-you’re-talking-about.” Instead of belaboring Benghazi, they’re bonding with “overwhelmed adoptive moms, by telling the truth about the post-adoption journey, so they feel validated and encouraged for the road ahead.” If more station websites offered narrowcast content that’s specifically appealing, and used transmitters to invite those moms to engage, new digital revenue would follow.
Podcasters’ delivery is more akin to public radio announcers’ than that zany 1960s George Carlin DJ voice so much station imaging still conforms to.
Something else very fundamental that makes this crowd so stimulating to walk among: As radio hunkers down, it’s tempting to shorthand this new media mojo as “how radio used to be;” but it’s more. Broadcast talent self-identifies as “employees,” and are anxiously awaiting the next round of firings. Fridays are hell. But this NMX crowd is much more entrepreneurial. They can’t wait for Monday, and they worked all weekend, like many other small business people do. They don’t work for a station, they ARE “the [media] station.”
Elements of a Powerful Personal Brand
Regular readers here will note that my convention reports often flag a session that “alone was worth the trip.” Several at NMX easily justified the day I spent going trans-continental wedged-into a coach seat, and one of ‘em was by publishing executive-turned-branding consultant/leader ship leverage guru/for-hire public speaker Michael Hyatt.
As he outlined The Five Elements, I couldn’t help but wish that more on-air talent approached their own branding as methodically; and that radio sales reps applied these fundamentals to campaigns they craft for advertisers.
It’s all so logical.
- Define your audience, a familiar exercise to my client stations, where we profile target listeners “Mike & Lisa,” then tailor every…single…thing that comes out the speaker to them. “Do a reader survey!” Hyatt urges bloggers and podcasters. And go beyond simple age/location/etc. demographics. Understand their aspirations, their pain points, and especially their content consumption behavior.
- Distill a clear value proposition.
* Hyatt’s template: Your professional identity + your target audience + your unique solution = their specific transformation.
* Value proposition: I am ____ I help ____ understand/do ____ so that _______
* That example about adoptive moms above? His daughter.
- A compelling brand slogan.
* Another cool template: Start with a verb or gerund [verb + “ing”].
* Example, atop MichaelHyatt.com: “Helping Leaders Leverage Influence.”
- An engaging head shot (desperately important advice to many on radio). 9 basics: michaelhyatt.com/headshots
- Identify the simple graphic components that make up your brand.
* Logo: professionally designed, not expensive via online crowdsource sites.
* Color palette: the limited number of colors you’ll use everywhere.
* Fonts: No more than 2 or 3 per page; sans serif for headlines and captions; serif for body text.
* Commit all-of-the-above to a consistent Design Guide. Example: michaelhyatt.com/design-guide
Why you should start a podcast?
Just because your day job at the radio station requires you to be-about Beyoncé or Benghazi doesn’t mean that’s all you’re about. And you sure aren’t the only one who’s also about the other “real life” things you’re passionate about. And those radio station day jobs are disappearing every Friday. And before yours does, you have a transmitter and its cume to whom you’re branding.
Why and how to create your own “media station?” In that order, from another of those worth-the-trip sessions, “Audio Podcasting: The Greatest Investment for Taking Your Message To The Next Level,” by Cliff Reconsecrate. Among his “benefits of processing which no other online platform can compare to:”
* “Smaller haystack:” There are over 450 million active English-language blogs, YouTube adds 100 hours a minute, but there are only 225,000 audio podcasts in iTunes (and “9-out-of-10 of them suck”).
* The smartphone: 1 billion in use today, it’s “the radio” for podcasts.
* No screen time required. Unlike video, users aren’t forced to make a choice between consuming and doing-what-they’re-doing. In-car podcast listeners are “a captive audience.”
* Greater influence: The human voice can convey emotion and passion better than the printed word. How many times have you misconstrued an email? Earbuds are intimate. “I am sticking your voice, in stereo, into my ear canals.” In Ravenscraft’s experience, “If you miss a week, you get email saying ‘Where are you?’”
* You can connect with experts and mentors. Podcasters are “media.” The NFL has credentialed bloggers for years. Cliff shares that more big shots will agree to audio interviews than video interviews.
* “Build rapport and trust while you sleep.” People now favor on-demand content.
How? Ravenscraft’s free LearnHowToPodcast.com is acclaimed.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Norm Pattiz…”
TALKERS Los Angeles attendees welcomed him like the radio network pioneer he his. Today, the Westwood One CEO-turned-Podcast One founder keynotes NMX with “The Future of Podcasting.” Stay tuned…
Holland Cooke (www.HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of Talk Radio and the Internet; and he covers industry conferences for TALKERS and RadioInfo. Look for his coverage of 2014 International CES here this week, and follow his real-time Tweets from the Las Vegas Convention Center @HollandCooke