Creating a Pop Video

Fun Direction

Part of my day job is looking after the programming and the creative elements of our children’s radio station, Fun Kids. Fun’s a very small operation, so to keep us on the straight and narrow we have a rule about what we spend time on. The rule is that we only do something if it:

1. Grows Fun’s awareness; and/or
2. Makes some money.

The rule came out of only having a few resources, but having worked with it over the past few years, even if we were a massive station I think we’d still keep it.

I think a radio station has to know what it’s doing and why it’s doing it. If you get too distracted by other things I think you’re doing your brand a disservice.

For example, at Fun Kids we’d be unlikely to do a Harlem Shake video. These seem to have spread like a virus across radio stations in the last 48 hours. We wouldn’t do one because it doesn’t hit our objectives. There is little reason for a non-station fan to watch the video – it’s not unique, there’s thousands on YouTube so it’s unlikely to generate much discovery – so little awareness growth. It’s also unlikely to make money. If you have a YouTube account that’s cleared for monetisation (ie you’re a partner) you might think you’ll make a few quid from the views – but you won’t because you’re using copyrighted music – it’ll be claimed by the artist so they’ll get all the YouTube revenue.

Harlem Shake videos are, in effect, fine for P1 fans of your station – it’s something fun for people who already like you. It perhaps does a job of connecting with ‘today’ but little more.

We’ve taken a different route with some video for Fun Kids.

One Direction, as you would imagine, are a key artist for us. Their recent video for Kiss You is quite interesting. Have a quick watch. It’s set in a studio with obvious green screen bits and some costume changes. When watching it I thought that it might be something that we would be able to have a go at replicating with our presenters.

After a bit of a chat with our team and the guys from Create (who work with us on Fun Kids production) we booked a green-screen studio, grabbed some props and costumes and had a go. Adam from Create did an excellent job of photography and editing and we’re very proud of the video. Here it is:

On-air we created a nice storyline with Hannah challenging Josh to make the video. He then had to recruit other presenters to take part. This resulted in lots of on-air talk-up in all of the shows – helping us introduce the weekend team to the weekday listeners.

The main objective of the video though is to try and drive further awareness of Fun Kids. We know that these sort of videos can do well on YouTube, especially with key artist fan groups. We’ve tried to describe the video well so it will show up in ‘Related Videos’ a lot and clearly we’ll push it on Twitter to 1D fan groups.

We’ve also added, on the end of the video, a very short explainer about what Fun Kids is. There’s also clickable annotations to take people to a Fun Direction section on the Fun Kids website (something you can only do if you’re a YouTube partner) and also links to other videos on our channel.

I think the section on the website’s an important thing. It provides a rabbit hole that will let people who are interested find out more about the video, the people in it and the station as a whole. It also links through to other content like a Behind the Scenes video and picture galleries.

Overall doing something like this is a bit of a punt – it might resonate online or it might not. The key thing for us was that we had a plan and did it for a reason.

Oh, and if you want to see how close Adam made it to the original, have a look below:

Talent Development

It was the Sony Radio Academy Awards last night and it was brilliant to see Luke (above) from our radio station, Fun Kids, winning the Rising Star (Best Newcomer) award.

My favourite bit of my job is finding new people for projects. I would happily trade all the other bits to just concentrate on talent development. It’s definitely not driven by altruism but really by selfishness, I just get a massive kick out of doing it. Or maybe in the back of my head its what Marsha once told me – “they’ll eventually employ  you – it’s just investment in your own future”.

Talent spotting’s one thing but the most important thing is coaching. Everyone gets better with feedback and making time to do it is really important. At GWR everyone who had at least one direct report had to go on the coaching course. Whether you looked after presenters or sales people, the two-day course gave you some real-world skills to help review people’s work and a framework for them to get better. Later, on PC School, another brilliant initiative, I was once sent to ‘coach’ Howard Taylor using the framework. Thankfully he seemed more terrified than I was.

The course was so good that even today – probably ten years on – I still use the basis of it for all the work I do with our presenters.

Fun Kids is going great guns at the moment. Both commercially and creatively it’s doing really well. A lot of this success is coming directly from the time we spend working with the existing team and attracting new people to come and work with us. As a very small station we’re never going to be able to pay the big bucks, but we try and reward the time those guys give us by helping to support their personal growth.

At Fun, all the presenters get coaching sessions from me where we review a show they’ve chosen. We always talk about how it went, the good and the bad bits and the things to improve next time.  Coaching time means there’s also a regular spot where we can catch up on any broader issues as well. It’s also good to have conversations where we’re not distracted by operational issues and can concentrate on presenter skill.

If you’re a presenter and don’t get regular feedback on your performance, ask! If you still don’t get any, then get a new job. You’ll only ever get better through listening and coaching. If you’re a PC that doesn’t coach your team then you need to get a different job.

We have two ‘new talent’ initiatives at Fun. The first is around a show we call the Treehouse, it’s kind of Blue Peter meets T4. Saturdays from 4pm and repeated Sundays from 10am – it’s a show with three presenters and loads of features. The presenters and the feature makers all tend to be new to professional radio. The Treehouse gives  a focus and pressure to hone skills and be regularly delivering audio. Everyone gets feedback on their work as well as getting to make something fun for the kids! Luke started in the Treehouse before getting his weekday show and many of the feature creators have gone on to do more pro work for us and other stations.

The second initiative happened the other week. It came from the problem I have with demo tapes.

I really feel for people doing demos for Fun Kids – it’s a really difficult one to do. As well as needing to be ‘good’, you also have to pitch it right – not too old, not too young. But really the biggest problem is that, amazingly, these potential presenters don’t seem to be able to read my mind about exactly what I want. I know!  To try and fix this issue, we recently invited people who had shown some interest/done demos/been involved a bit for a presenter workshop day.

We talked about radio and what we all liked and why, I spoke a little about Fun and we all listened to some output to get a flavour of the presented bits of the station. Everyone then did a couple of links, including ones based on our weekly presenter content doc and then we all listened and critiqued everyone’s performance. I found it a really useful day, hopefully all the potentials got something out of it and fingers crossed some of those people will turn into new presenters on Fun.

Clearly, all this stuff takes time. But the more I do it, the more valuable I see it to be. And sitting with Luke as he won his Sony made it all even more worthwhile.