Thinking Big

We’ve just been working with a non-radio client who have recently launched a new online business and we’re helping them with some online marketing and web analytics bits and pieces. They are a very small team but they are rolling out products and partnerships at pace – it’s impressive stuff and made me think a lot about our own business but also radio in general.

Indeed, their team is smaller than that of many post-consolidation radio stations and I’d imagine unlike those stations, they’re building their revenues for scratch. What impresses me most is their ambition. They’re relentless about doing ‘big things’.

I think in radio stations we often forget about what’s possible if we really go for it. Our reach, awareness and sexiness (to others anyway!) means we’re in the perfect position to push the boundaries and go for it!

I’m a big fan of Improv Everywhere. They’re a group of people who do outrageous stunts… for fun! And, to be honest, it makes the traditional radio crank calls look somewhat disappointing in comparison.

The video below shows a stunt they did where they picked a random person in a bar and pretended it was the man’s birthday (he didn’t know them – or the 20 people who turned up!) Take a look…

If this was done for a radio station, you’d have great time talking it up, gathering listeners to help you out, then you’d have audio for the show the next day, a load of video for the web, an interview on air with your target and probably loads of local press coverage too.

I think there’s really something in doing more ‘real world’ things that take you into the community. A disproportionate number of your hours come from a small percentage of your audience – your P1s. They’re also the people who will talk up what you do to your friends. Creating new P1s will probably do you more good than any other activity.

My friend Nick’s a (relatively) new Breakfast presenter for BBC Surrey. Now, there are lots of different tips for building a new Breakfast show, but reading Nick’s blog, it looks like he’s come up with a very different one. He’s bought an allotment. For the show.

But more than that, what’s he’s actually done is bought a narrative.

Looking at the subsequent posts he’s attracting listeners to ‘Green Squadron’ to help develop it – a shared activity that he can talk about on the radio. It already looks like it’s touching lots of people and they’ll go on to speak to others and tell them what they’re doing, about Nick, and the show. I’m sure they’ll tune in to hear if they’re mentioned – something they’ll encourage their friends to do as well.

It’s also got ‘passive entertainment value’ – you don’t need to be involved to follow the progress, hear the stories and what they’re up to. Of course, Nick’s got to keep it interesting and not make it exclude anyone, but I think it’s an interesting way to provide an anchor point to the show. Whilst many of the elements of radio shows can be ‘cloned’ by the station over the road, an allotment and all the people involved is a little harder to do.

What have you done recently to think differently? And would you like to supersize it?