Saturday, July 21, 2007

Gotta give it to Ben and Jerry’s. They’ve turned one talk-about into two, and in so doing, made themselves the center of attention.

Ben and Jerry’s will introduce a special donut flavored ice cream in honor of the Simpson’s movie that premieres this month. But don’t look for it in your store. The company says it’s only going to be out for one day and will only be available in one town (Springfield, VT).

As a talk-about, this is brilliant. And apparently the effort and expense in capturing the moment – and reaping the resulting publicity – are worth it to the company.

How much easier it is for us to capture the moment! We don’t have to mobilize a workforce to re-tool a factory in order to produce our consumable product. We just have to imagine it and talk about it.

When we talk about what others are talking about in a unique, creative, fun, interesting and interactive way, we create a sense of community where we’re talked about, too.

Of course the Simpson’s movie won’t be everyone’s biggest talk-about (although donuts and ice cream in the summer have a pretty universal appeal).

Besides, the real value of talk-abouts may be less about being “in the moment” and more about creating, on a daily basis, opportunities for listeners to feel connected to us and to each other.

Opportunistic talent find solid talk-abouts every day – from big ones like the release of the final Harry Potter book to little ones like a hometown hero, road construction, unusual weather, or the first day of school.

Want more people talking about you? Add a pint of Carpe Diem to your show (as well as to your imaging and contesting) on a daily basis. Pass out spoons to listeners and let them dig in.

Mmmm…good radio.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Value of Speed

The turning point in last night’s All Star Game wasn’t a Barry Bonds blast (although his early drive to the warning track was a delicious tease). It was when Ichiro Suzuki’s legs shifted into over-drive resulting in the first-ever, All Star Game’s inside-the-park home run.

Speed – if not the factor – was certainly a factor in extending the AL’s unbeaten streak to 11 games and making Ichiro the game’s MVP.

Speed – or the lack thereof - can be a major factor in programming, too. It’s not just about beating a competitor to the punch; it’s about acting and reacting quickly to opportunities – especially the fleeting ones.

What’s hot today that you can capitalize on?

Harry Potter, Radio Programmer

As the Harry Potter saga prepares to conclude after 10 years, let’s consider a few things Harry learned at Hogwarts that could apply to how we program our stations (yelling “Expelliarmus” at competitor’s tower doesn’t count).

  • Wonderful, magical things lurk just beneath the ordinary, but you must take an active role to bring them to light. Magic happens because you were prepared to make it happen. Have a deliberate plan to make magic happen regularly on your station.
  • It’s not only your abilities, but what you choose to do with them that are the true measures of your character. Have a bias toward action. Until something happens, it’s only good intentions.
  • People with whom you’ve built strong relationships will be there for you, often just when you them the most. Nurture relationships with listeners, co-workers, and friends.
  • Doing the right thing can often mean doing the hardest thing. Leadership isn’t for the feint of heart. Be prepared to make tough decisions for the overall good.
  • Practice ‘Legilimency.’ Past experiences can give perspective and insight to current circumstances. Take a moment to apply what you already know to better understand/interpret new challenges.
  • The seeking and sharing of knowledge go hand in hand. Learn from or be an Albus Dumbledore.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


What are the names of some of the people who’ve waited on you at McDonalds? Or the cashiers at the supermarket where you shop? Or the person who reads your water meter?

We see it all the time, but it’s still mildly shocking (and discouraging) to see the blank expressions on the faces of people in focus groups when we ask the radio version of the same question – “tell me the names of some of the DJs you listen to.”

In a recall universe, such memory paralysis is never a good thing.

Here are five ideas to help talent be more memorable:

  1. Make content “unique-to-you” by approaching topics in a way other than the “first right answer” which is what most talent in the market will come up with. All penguins look pretty much the same.
  2. Let listeners see more of the “real” you. It’s near impossible to remember what you don’t know or understand, nor will you make accurate recollections of things that are fuzzy in your mind. Same for things you don’t care about. Make me care about you as a person and I’ll be more likely to remember you as a talent I’ve listened to.
  3. Similarly, use personal appearances and one-on-one opportunities (even on the phone) to deliberately engage listeners you meet on as personal a level as they will allow. The power of one-on-one is a double-edged sword; you’re going to be perceived as aloof or engaging. You pick.
  4. Create benchmarks that are in line with listeners’ values, expectations, station image and you personally. If I’m listening to the station for something I like and the talent heightens that experience, I’m more likely to recall that talent – and in a positive way.
  5. Become a more interesting talker. Replace “geek talk” (minutiae, execution, rules, etc) with phrasing that paints mental pictures, creates associations, or tackles topics in a fresh, surprising way. Imagine how you’d tell a friend about a great meal or funny experience you had, or about a most interesting person you recently met. You’ll cut through the wasteland of “DJ talk,” clich├ęs and hype.