Owning Big Events

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Tonight sees the Brit Awards in the UK. Unlike the Grammy Awards (with over 100 different awards), the Brits are a more manageable affair – celebrating mostly British artists and talent with a few overseas categories thrown in (to make it a bigger show).

For many radio stations, this is a huge deal – particularly for stations Capital FM and Radio 1.

There was a time when the whole of commercial radio got involved with helping choose the British Single (essentially the biggest songs played on commercial radio that year). Now, it’s purely the preserve of Capital FM listeners to have their say. And it’s surely one of the biggest days in Capital’s music calender – along with the Summertime Ball and Jingle Bell Ball.

Back when I worked at Capital, it was a pretty big deal. We’d run packages supporting the voting, have weekend giving away tickets and of course do a couple of shows from backstage too. But now, it’s way bigger than that. Take a look at their website and it’s nothing but Brits. Listen on air for the last couple of weeks and its been all about the tickets. And today, it’s everything Brits. And let’s face it – it’s all about the music that (on the most part) is at the heart if their playlist.

They are absolutely owning it online already – watch this great backstage video

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But as well as being jammed full of relevant, relatable content for their listeners, it’s obviously a huge opportunity for Capital to shout about their brand to anyone who listens. It’s live on ITV, so expect to see their current TV advert at every opportunity as well.

As with any radio brand, it’s all about talking abou t the content that’s relevant for your listeners. There are still many sales people in particular who have a lack of understanding of what brands would work alongside their radio brand. I doubt it happens as much now, but there was a time when even the sales team at GCap bought us promotions briefs for a dog food winning weekend.

And whilst Capital will be getting its branding in everyone’s face tonight at the Brits, I doubt you’ll see any of these on the tables – which I actually think are their best piece of targeted visual marketing ever. Beans Means Hits..?

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How do you promote your best content?

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I just saw this on Twitter from @dannywallace and think it needs sharing.

http://soundcloud.com/the-xfm-breakfast-show/behind-the-scenes-documentary

http://soundcloud.com/the-xfm-breakfast-show/behind-the-scenes-documentary

There’s a tendency, particularly in commercial radio, to run a breakfast show promo that contains a quick clip from the show. The normal reason for this is that the show is sponsored, and as part of the deal, the Sponsorship team have added in promo trails. The real reason it’s there is to get across a sponsor message. And the breakfast show clip is essentially the filling in the sponsorship sandwich.

Often, the promo is pretty rubbish. The reason; it’s pretty hard to distill the essence of a great breakfast show into a single, punchy clip.

So why do shows insist on doing it? Would it not be as effective to use the trail to give a tease of some great audio that’s actually worth listening to, and maybe direct listeners online to hear the whole section? And now that a significant number of your consumers are online, maybe there are new ways to promote the show too.

I like this “behind the scenes” “documentary” because:
It’s funny.
It’s irreverent.
It’s probably something extra that wouldn’t necessarily appear on air.
It’s really shareable too.

I’m constantly amazed why more stations don’t use clips of content from interviews in on air promos and imaging to drive the listeners online to hear more. If you’ve spent the time recording and editing a great interview with a guest, don’t assume your listeners were actually listening when you broadcast it. Why not use it to promote your show and then reward the listeners with more content online.

Make That Change

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There are some times in your career when you need to make a change.

Sometimes it’s because an amazing job comes up. Sometimes it’s for personal reasons. And sometimes (and more and more often), its because it’s enforced. When these times of change come along, you can either bury your head in the sand and despair. Or you can embrace the change and see it as a force for good.

Next month, I’m leaving the BBC.

It’s been a hard decision to make but one that is right; for me, for the family and for various other reasons. I’ll post news of where I’m going and what I’m doing next week.

Throughout my career, I’ve almost always been involved in hands on radio production. Whether producing programmes and events, managing production teams or co-ordinating projects. This is what I love doing and this is what makes the day to day job worth doing.

Ever since I left Capital FM in London in 2008, I’ve been working outside of radio stations.

I worked on documentaries for Wise Buddah. I created imaging for a production service and shows like the Ronnie Wood Show whilst at Puretonic Media. And for the last 2 and a half years, I’ve worked across some pretty challenging marketing projects on radio as part of BBC Creative Marketing.

But every job has taken me away from day to day radio.

And each job has required fewer of my core craft skills to be utilised.

Now, one can argue that as you progress in a career, you’d normally expect to do less doing and more managing. And this has certainly been the case with my current job. And it brings both challenges and rewards. But also it brings frustrations. I’ve sometimes had to manage the creative process when deep down, I’ve really wanted to make the finished product myself. In fact, recently, I was worried that I was beginning to lose some of the creative craft skills I’ve developed over many years simply by lack of “doing”.

So the new job is in some ways a step sideways. But the rewards that it will give me personally are far greater. Greater personal satisfaction. More family time. And a broadening of my production network too, as some of it will have an International element.

So, if you’re sitting in a job and are getting frustrated, maybe it’s time to think back to what it was that attracted you to radio in the first place. Are you still getting your creative buzz from what you do now. If you are – that’s great. But if not, then what are you going to do about it?

The New Sound of BBC Radio 1

For radio imaging readers, it’s worth checking out the new sound of BBC Radio 1. On air since the beginning of April, there’s a new punchiness to the sound – and the station has a real feel of energy and progression  to it – particularly in the new shows in the afternoon.

Dan Mumford, Radio 1’s Station Sound head worked with the team at Pure Jingles in the Netherlands to create a new sonic identity to the station. And what’s interesting is the way the team at Pure Jingles work.

Dan tells me they initially worked on a ton of music beds in loads of different styles. These then get passed to another producer in another studio who decimates the tracks, creating short burst of musical energy – often unlike the original track. These music elements then get thrown to the next studio where the audio mangling happens to the Voiceovers – giving them a final set of idents.

I love this idea of collaborative production – it seems very different from the production process I came across when working with companies such as Wise Buddah and Groove Addicts years back. They have a completely different (and equally valid) way of working. But for Radio 1’s sound, this new way is certainly a fresh approach.

The new imaging sound also includes 2 new station voices. Both have been discovered by the station rather than through traditional ways of going through agencies etc. The Female voice was discovered whilst auditioning for a TV show, and the new male voice was found through the annual search for the voice of the awards session at the the Student Radio Association annual conference.

Even if Radio 1 isn’t your bag – you can check out a montage that Dan created of the station sound here.

And there’s another montage of some more of the imaging on the Pure Jingles website.