By Chris Miller
Chris Miller Digital
SHAKER HEIGHTS — Those of us in digital media know that our world will continue to change drastically, over and over again. We also know that we will be bigger and better three years … five years … 10 years from now. Plus, we hear how radio compares itself to online listening choices, and we see how you use your digital platforms.
And here’s what we think.
We Have Transmitter Envy
There’s no limit to the number of people who can come online to try and get something going. To us digital folks, people in broadcast radio are like the lottery winners who get to use a limited number of government-approved channels! When I worked in radio, I spent very little time thinking about how special that was. Now I know just what an amazing advantage it is.
Even though more and more listening is moving online, you guys still have the sticks! That gives you a certain perceptual advantage and a legitimacy that pure digital brands don’t automatically have. When broadcast radio gets compared to Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher and other online audio choices, I’m still waiting for someone in radio to say, “Yeah, but we’re the ones with the local transmitters! Good luck competing with that!”
Are You Crazy?
Why do you keep cutting talent; how will that help you five years from now when we digital content providers are that much more intelligent, experienced and established?
How many fewer people would tune out during stop sets if you just stopped selling :60s? Compared to the brief amount of time people give us online, stringing several :60s together feels to us like an infomercial.
Is anyone in radio thinking about how different entertainment in general is now … compared to even just a few years ago? What are the opportunities for radio to break some of its own unwritten rules about how radio is done? Radio can feel very old and traditional to us. It’s not the medium itself; it’s the top-down past-success-and-tradition-based approach.
Your Dangerous Assumption
In the online world, we’re amazed and confused by how you use your digital platforms. Honestly, the vast majority of radio stations treat their digital assets like they’re all just more methods of broadcasting … with lower standards for quality.
I look at a lot of different radio social media, websites, database emails and texting programs, and it’s clear you’re making some dangerous assumptions. Digital content doesn’t work like you think it should. It doesn’t work like you wish it did. It works like it works.
We see you on Facebook and Twitter talking about almost anything … except what people really love about you. Your websites are a mish-mosh of broad-based content, but if you look at your web stats, there are fewer than half-a-dozen features at your site that, combined, get the lion’s share of your page views. There is nothing special or exclusive about the emails you send your listeners, and your open rates prove it.
Radio people know a lot about how people use radio. Meanwhile, you are using all these other media as if knowing how they work doesn’t matter. One key thing we’re doing to drive our online success is to track everything we can to see what really makes a difference. We don’t have the luxury of having opinions about what should work. Either the clicks are there, or they aren’t. What we do either works, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you dig in, diagnose the problem, and adjust.
The good news is that there’s an opportunity here for a station, or a cluster, or a company to break away from the pack. It’s great that we’re turning program directors into brand managers. However, you wouldn’t turn your programmers loose on a newspaper or a TV station just because they’ve programmed a radio station. Why is it assumed that digital activity is adequate as a digital strategy?
Chris Miller, owner of Chris Miller Digital, is a leading radio consultant specializing in research-based strategic planning and smart use of digital media. He can be phoned at 216-236-3955 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.