Author: Jay Nachlis

The Marketing of Social Distancing

Tuesdays With Coleman

All the way back on March 17th, we tweeted about a new billboard campaign our client in Edmonton, K-97, launched:

K-97 Edmonton social distancing billboard

Since then, brand after brand is getting in on the action. This includes Coca-Cola putting some distance in their logo for their Times Square billboard:

Coca-Cola Times Square social distancing billboard

Miss Chiquita is missing from the banana brand’s iconic logo:

Chiquita social distancing marketing on social media

Audi separated its four rings. Like Chiquita, the luxury automotive brand is using its updated logo on its social media accounts:

Audio social distancing marketing on social media

And there is my personal favorite, this social distancing-inspired ad for Guinness:

Guinness social distancing ad on One Minute Briefs

It led to an abundance of accolades for the brewery, including a tweet from Rob Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer of the advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day that claimed, “It restored my faith in advertising.”

Oh, just one small thing. Neither Guinness nor its ad agency created it.

It was designed by an Irish freelance copywriter named Luke O’Reilly as part of a competition called One Minute Briefs.

Keeping your brand top-of-mind in the right ways during a crisis can have lasting perceptual impact later. And, as the Guinness example reminds us, fans of your brand can be some of the best marketers you have. Audio entertainment brands have some of the most passionate, loyal followers in media. How can you mobilize your audience to amplify your community-focused message during this crisis? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.

Your campaign just might go the distance.

How to Connect With Your Audience in a Crisis

Tuesdays With ColemanAs the world has turned upside down for the foreseeable future, the team at Coleman Insights has been engaged in conversations with our clients about how to navigate the new landscape. We recognize the ability of radio stations and other audio-based media to shine in moments of crisis, and there are already numerous examples of this occurring. On the other hand, we also recognize the lack of an “adversity road map.” There is no playbook that dictates how each brand should respond. Should you continue to deliver your format without any significant modifications? Is this a moment to break format completely and provide relevant crisis information instead? These are difficult strategic decisions. The specific choices are also hard.

Our consultant team has been having ongoing internal discussions about strategies for the audio entertainment industry. The result is the following special Thursday edition of Tuesdays With Coleman, a compilation of thoughts and ideas our team would like to share with you, with the understanding that there is no single solution for everyone.

  • Recognize unusual times call for unusual measures.

Everyone has something to contribute during a global emergency. Regardless of what your brand regularly delivers, your listeners are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and your response should reflect this. Your brand has a voice and a platform to be heard when listeners need it the most. Known, trusted personalities should play a major role and leverage the intimate connections they have with their listeners.

  • Consider the role of your brand in COVID-19 coverage.

Understand the need your brand fulfills.

News brands have a responsibility to provide comprehensive, relevant coverage. These brands might consider whether there are opportunities to go outside the typical format. For example, does more long-form programming or an increased number of updates make sense? These decisions should be determined by the role of the brand–in this case, being a provider of constant, reliable and trustworthy information during the crisis.

Listeners may be visiting your music station to get away from news coverage, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to stay connected. Does it make sense to employ a “We’re following the news so you don’t have to” approach? This allows talent to play a reassuring role; listeners can count on enjoying content on a music station without feeling like the world will pass by if they aren’t watching CNN or Fox News at that moment.

A full-service Adult Contemporary station may play a more personality-forward role of providing news and information. On the other hand, if your brand primarily provides comfort and escape, like a Soft Adult Contemporary radio station, constant news updates may be a harrowing intrusion and contrary to your brand. In fact, brands built on comfort and escape should lean in to that image, as it is particularly valuable when the real world is more chaotic.

  • Recognize that listening patterns are likely in significant flux.

If many people aren’t going to work or school, typical in-car commute listening levels no longer apply. What about everyone who is temporarily working from home? Or businesses that have been forced to close, like bars and restaurants? Will radio listening increase or decrease?

Reduced commuting will have a significant effect on listening patterns

With that in mind, consider the impact on how people may be consuming your station, podcast or streaming service and the programming options you may have.

With entire families now at home throughout the day, what about specialty programming geared to them during traditional at work hours? Should you do this on your main platform or would offering this through podcasts, separate streaming channels, etc. make more sense?

Aggressively promote all your listening platforms, keeping in mind that smart speaker listening is heavier at home than in the workplace and a surge of at home listening may be taking place.

  • Provide increased authentic and actionable listener engagement.

Listeners will find comfort in others going through the same issues. You may find yourself broadcasting from your home, which may be out of your comfort zone. Rather than trying to project a sense of business as usual, embrace the change! If the dog barks, the child screams or the husband sighs in the background, that’s real life. It’s exactly what your listener is going through. Let sharing be the mantra–you could, for example, have listeners upload pictures of their home offices to your social pages and share yours.

Find experts to feature on your shows. You don’t have to have all the COVID-19 answers yourself, and some of the best content is being generated by personalities across multiple formats interviewing those on the front lines of the crisis.

Anthony Fauci is the director of the NIAID

NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) Director Anthony Fauci has been extremely media-friendly in providing crisis guidance

Consider taking more listener phone calls. Allow them to share feelings and information that may be valuable to other listeners.

Think about brand-appropriate actionable advice you can offer listeners that is applicable to the current environment (i.e., how to work at home while the kids are in online school, the best binge-able series on Netflix or which delivery services have waived their fees).

Modify your tone. Be empathetic to the new needs of an uncertain audience.

  • Rally your community.

In times of crisis, “Community” surges to a higher level of importance on the Image PyramidSM. As they would with aggressively promoting a Base Music or Talk position, brands should be going over the top with their community efforts. Build real community bulletins (here’s what is open, new hours for grocery stores, new restrictions, etc.). Be the voice of the community, invite listeners to participate and share as appropriate. Listeners will tell people where they can buy toilet paper (well, maybe they’ll share that information), who delivers groceries and how to find free learning resources for kids. Post the information on your website.

Don’t just think of your community as your market. Your community is your audience. A Hip Hop station and Classic Rock station will not rally the same communities, but each has the power to inspire, engage and activate their respective followers.

If you make a concerted effort now to think about what you can really do for your community and your audience, your efforts will create a halo over your brand when things settle down.

Consider reading two Tuesdays With Coleman posts in which we covered the important role of radio in a crisis:

Here’s to Local Radio and Waffle House

The Power of Radio in Tough Times

All of us at Coleman Insights welcome your input and would love to hear your thoughts on how audio brands can best serve our communities during this challenging time.

We’re all in this together.

Warren, Jon, Jessica, Sam, John, Meghan & Jay

Interview With Brent Axe: Coronavirus and the POKE Scale

Tuesdays With ColemanWhat a difference a few weeks, days and hours makes.

Before the travel bans, before sports and concerts cancelled and before schools closed, I paid a visit to Syracuse University for my college radio station’s 35th annual reunion. I returned from that trip just nine days ago.

The keynote of the WJPZ Alumni Banquet featured three SU grads: Jeff Kurkjian, host of Jeff and Aimee in the Morning on 102.7 The Coyote, a Las Vegas Country station; Pete Gianesini, Senior Director of Digital Audio Programming for ESPN and Brent Axe, host of the “On The Block” afternoon show on ESPN Radio/Syracuse and a reporter for Syracuse.com.

Syracuse Sports Journalist Brent Axe

During the session, Brent brought up a principle that guides his show planning, called the POKE scale. As with many others in the industry, his brand stretches across platforms including hosting his own podcast. I wanted to know how Brent is using POKE to build his brand, develop compelling and engaging content and demonstrate differentiation as a reason for listening.

Just last Wednesday, we spent some time on the phone discussing it. Syracuse was set to play the University of North Carolina in the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament later that night. While we knew sports would soon be played without fans in the venues, the thought of cancelling them altogether hadn’t yet crossed our minds.

That was six days ago.

Brent and I discussed how POKE plays a role in his daily planning, including the way he covered Coronavirus on his sports talk show up to that point.

Perhaps there’s value now, more than ever, in applying the POKE scale to show prep–certainly in a format (Sports) built around something that currently, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. In addition, as Brent explains, it is equally important to recognize when to make adjustments.

Read an edited transcript or listen to the entire interview below.

JAY:

When I saw you in Syracuse, you mentioned the POKE scale. Talk about the acronym and what each letter means.

BRENT:

Passion, Opinion, Knowledge and Entertainment. I write my show notes on a legal pad. Every day on the top of the legal pad I write the date of the show and POKE. If you’re accomplishing those four things, particularly in the type of show I do, you’re checking the box.

Let’s start with Passion. The number one thing my listeners say to me is they appreciate my passion. They might not agree with what I’m saying, but they enjoy the manner in which I’m delivering it.

Opinion. Listeners are looking for you to have a defined, clear take. As we speak, Syracuse is getting ready to play in the ACC Tournament. They have to win to go to the NCAA Tournament. The discussion on the show is, “If they don’t win, is it a failed season?” If I don’t think it’s a failed season, I have to explain why.

Knowledge is prepping. And when you work in this industry, you’re constantly prepping. When you’re watching sports, you’re debating with yourself. First it’s, “Am I going to talk about this?” If the answer is yes, then it’s “How?” And how do I keep it entertaining for those that aren’t hard core sports fans?

JAY:   

Are you putting each topic through the POKE filter to determine how each break works within that structure?

BRENT:  

I try to. The other day I talked about Coronavirus and I broke the Opinion rule. I said, it’s my job to have an opinion here, but this is a case where we don’t know enough to have a firm opinion. You can have an opinion, but you have to clarify it sometimes when it’s beyond the scale. This is real life interfering with sports, so I’ll be honest with my listeners. When I came on, I said, I’m not an expert, I know what I know, here’s the information we have, and let’s go from there. That’s where putting it through the filter doesn’t always work. I heard a call from Bob Costas who was talking about sports talk radio and the “First Take” shows of the world and podcasts, and Bob said you can’t possibly be that opinionated about something for three hours a day, five days a week. And he’s right. When I look at the four things in the POKE scale, (I might say) I can’t entertain you today. Coronavirus is a serious discussion. You’ve got to know when to break the rules and let people know that today’s a little different.

JAY:  

So many shows right now are trying to figure out how to handle approaching the Coronavirus. If you had handled it with updates like a hard news station, it would be out of left field and not consistent with your brand.

BRENT:

And that’s where Knowledge comes into play and applies to guests. If I don’t know, get somebody on that does. It’s growing so many different layers. Schools cancelling classes. Events that are being cancelled. What do I do as a fan? Do I go to games? This is not going anywhere anytime soon, so knowledge becomes important. Trusting sources, getting people on the air with you that can explain it. If you’re not knowledgeable about it – in this case it’s Coronavirus but it could be a 2-3 zone defense – get somebody on who is knowledgeable.

JAY: 

Do you think authenticity goes part and parcel with Passion?

BRENT:  

Yes. You can’t control authenticity. Your audience is making that judgement. You’ve got to be authentic and people will appreciate that more.

JAY: 

Many hosts are afraid to give their opinion, whether it be because they fear it will be controversial or taken the wrong way. Do you always say what you believe or do you sometimes take an opinion you feel will be good for the show?

BRENT: 

It’s important to me that my opinion–going back to that word we used a minute ago–is authentic. The opinion I give someone in public better be the same as it is on the radio.

JAY:  

On the topic of brand development, listeners will see through it if it doesn’t match the brand perception of who you are.

BRENT:   

I’ve been doing radio in Syracuse since 1996. My listeners know certain things about me. I’ve had an opinion for years that Pete Rose should not be in the Hall of Fame and nothing has come along to change my opinion. So every time Hall of Fame voting comes around, I hear from people. “You still feel this way?” It can help build a brand and build awareness when people know what your opinion is.

JAY:  

Does the POKE scale work outside of Sports? Like for a morning show on a CHR or Hot AC station, for example?

BRENT:  

Yes. For example, you need to be passionate about the market you work in. That’s essential. Having an opinion and gathering other opinions is important. Knowledge speaks for itself and we’re all entertainers! That’s what I love about the POKE scale. It does apply to just about everything you can do in this business.

 

We send our thanks to Brent for taking the time to share the principles of the POKE scale, and applaud every radio personality going above and beyond to serve their listeners in important, crucial and memorable ways.

Three Reasons Why the HQ Trivia App Failed

Tuesdays With Coleman

When the HQ Trivia app was released in the summer of 2017, it was an instant sensation. It was #1 on Time’s 10 Top Apps of 2017. Partnerships with brands including Nike, Google and Warner Brothers brought in millions in revenue. The popularity of HQ influenced internal discussions about what lessons radio shows could learn from it.

HQ Trivia app shuts down

My family was so addicted to the app in the summer of 2018 that we set our alarms to 8:55 PM, giving us five minutes to prepare for the daily 9 PM start time. We even stopped what we were doing on vacation–I specifically recall playing the game on a bench at Spruce Street Harbor Park in Philadelphia, because that was the night we won. A whole two dollars and seventeen cents.

There are always behind-the-scenes and internal reasons that can contribute to a company’s failure, and this is not a referendum on that dynamic. It is, however, a first-hand observation from a regular user who stopped using the app long before its demise last week, on Valentine’s Day.

When tactical strategy overwhelms brand strategy, brand growth is stunted. Ultimately, HQ was a game built heavily on tactical content rather than brand strength. Here are three reasons why the HQ trivia app failed:

  1. THE PRIZE WAS THE REASON TO PLAY, AND THE PAYOFF WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT

I play three games on my phone: Words With Friends (my favorite), Jeopardy and Family Feud. In the case of all three of these games, I win nothing but pride. They are strongly branded apps that focus on the strategy and the joy of playing the game.

While trivia is fun, the carrot dangled by HQ was the prize, the amounts of which varied. Usually around $5,000, sometimes as high as $100,000. Unfortunately, if you actually got through all the increasingly difficult questions to win, it was a share of the jackpot (like my $2.17 windfall).

It’s hard to not be disappointed when a brand markets huge jackpots as the selling point, but you can’t actually win the whole jackpot.

  1. PLAYABILITY FRICTION

A live trivia game show played on a mobile device is an ambitious idea but a highly risky proposition. If there are no technical issues on HQ’s end and everyone is on super-fast Wi-Fi, it should be a seamless experience! Unfortunately, there were sometimes technical problems on HQ’s end that required delaying game times or interrupting within games. As for the end-user, if you had a connection dropout or the picture started pixelating, you were out of luck and unceremoniously dropped from the game. With a stronger likable brand, perhaps players may have given HQ more leeway and forgiveness. There are only so many times you’ll put up with that.

  1. HQ DIDN’T BUILD THE BRAND FIRST

Instead of focusing on making HQ a world-class trivia app, the company hitched its wagon to line extension. They launched HQ After Dark, HQ Sports, HQ Words, HQ Tunes and HQX.

More often than not, line extension is a trap.

 

While brands across industries can find takeaways from HQ’s failure, brands (including radio stations) that spend a great deal of their focus on tactical strategy like contesting should use caution to ensure this does not come at the expense of brand building.

While tactical may bring a consumer in, your brand is why they will (or will not) stay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start With the Customer and Work Backwards

Tuesdays With Coleman

“Start with the customer experience and work backwards.”

That’s what Steve Jobs says 1:55 into this video from 1997 in response to an audience member who was questioning Jobs’ strategic direction.

It’s an example of Outside Thinking–seeing your product from the viewpoint of your customers.

In the video, Jobs goes on to give an example of how things should not be done at Apple. “We could sit down with the engineers, figure out what technology we have and say, ‘how will we market that?”

That’s Inside Thinking.

Contrast this with, “What incredible benefits can we give to the customer?”

That’s Outside Thinking.

If someone in your industry were to take Jobs’ advice, starting with the customer experience and working backwards, what would it look like?

Picture a whiteboard filled with all the experiences consumers have with your brand including how, where, when and why they use it.

We would consider all points of possible friction, and then determine if there are more effective ways to deliver the experience.

How would this look at your company?

Business teams are far more likely to take stock of how they deliver the customer experience and adjust it based on their experience with the product. When approached in this manner, there’s always the danger of “we’ve always done it this way” syndrome.

By taking the Outside Thinking approach–starting with the customer experience and working backwards–that’s where you’ll discover the new approaches and innovations that truly create passion and loyalty.

Disruption, Adaptation and Surrender

Tuesdays With Coleman

In business, you are either the disrupter or the one being disrupted. It may not be happening now, but eventually, someone will try to build a better mousetrap in your industry.

At one time, Raleighwood Cinema Grill in Raleigh, North Carolina was a disrupter.

When it opened in the mid-1990s, with few exceptions, movie theaters generally looked the way they had for decades. Uncomfortable seats. Varying degrees of sound quality. Small screens. Sometimes the screen had a stain or a tear in it. Stale popcorn, Coke and Goobers at the snack bar.

Raleighwood was a revelation. The screen was huge. The seats were cushy and spread out. You had your own table, at which servers would bring you made-to-order food from the kitchen and you could even order alcohol!

But alas, on December 11, 2019, I received this email from Raleighwood Cinema Grill:

RALEIGHWOOD
Great Taste’N New Movies

Cinema Grill Newsletter

Raleighwood Goes Dark

The Writing on the Wall!

The Old Testament, Chapter 5: The Book of Daniel tells the story of the King of Babylon’s feast.

Belshazzar, the King of Babylon, held a dinner feast. During the celebration, a hand mysteriously appeared and wrote on one of the palace’s walls. None of the King’s advisors could explain the writing to him. The Queen suggested he asks Daniel, a Wiseman. Daniel told the King the message portended the end of the empire.

Raleighwood’s writing on the Wall

A 65” 4K Flat Screen HDTV for $380. With access to stream 500,000 movies and TV shows!

Raleighwood Cinema Grill is CLOSED

Attendance has steadily decreased over the past 2+ years as large flatscreen HDTVs and streaming services have changed the way people enjoy movies. A trend to releasing new movies directly onto streaming services, bypassing theaters has begun. 108-year-old Paramount Pictures Studios recently agreed to make movies for direct Netflix release. Overall, Netflix dominated the recent Golden Globe Award nominations with 17 movie nominations, more than the closest rival, Sony Pictures, which had ten.

As a small family-owned and operated independent theater we can see ‘the writing on the wall’. In the face of this decreased attendance, realizing time and technology changes the world we live in, the business decision to close was made.

The classic case – even the biggest, best run Blockbuster was overtaken by changing technology. After 26 years of operation, having hosted over 10,000 children’s birthday parties, and numerable Monday Night Football and Super Bowl games, Academy Award galas, 400+ corporate meetings and seminars, hundreds of TV series (24, Lost, Survivor, Seinfeld, The Walking Dead, etc.), hundreds of movies, two weddings and even one funeral service, it was with a heavy heart we close.

We would like to thank our friends, customers, neighbors and employees (two and three generations in some cases) for their support over these 26 years. Approaching 74 years of age, my wife and I have decided it’s time to find greener pastures and enjoy our five children and nine grandchildren.

Thanks again for your support and patronage over the last 26 years!!!

I feel bad for Raleighwood, which served its community for over two decades. But as a former customer, I’d say technology is likely not why its customer base eroded and it went out of business.

While Raleighwood’s cushy seats started to tear and lose their cushiness, new competitors installed recliners.

While Raleighwood’s food coming out of the kitchen was ok, competitors were offering chef-inspired creations that were as good as any sit-down restaurant.

When the craft beer revolution took hold, Raleighwood’s limited beer menu almost never changed while competitors added local and more interesting taps.

While competitors arrived or updated with a modern look, Raleighwood’s paint and neon looked likely very similar to when it opened in the 90s.

Raleighwood didn’t go out of business because of advancements. It went out of business because it didn’t adapt.

And truth be told, it’s not easy to adapt before you’re disrupted. The email mentions two companies that took opposite paths. Blockbuster had the infrastructure to adapt to the Netflix model. But it saw itself as a video store, not an entertainment company, and was therefore disrupted. If Netflix saw itself as a DVD-by-mail service and not an entertainment company, it would have never moved into streaming as early as it did or paved the way for original content. It disrupts itself regularly, just as Amazon does (e.g., creating its own shipping infrastructure and acquiring grocery stores.)

Is your business currently being disrupted? If not, how would you do it? Can you effectively disrupt yourself to ignite growth?

Or will you find things to blame the decline on?

Disrupt and adapt now, or surrender later.

Nobody Home on the Request Line

Tuesdays With Coleman

I was driving my 13-year-old son Teddy to school about a month ago and listening to the morning show on one of our local radio stations. Out of nowhere, he turned to me and said, “Let’s call the station.” Turns out he was interested in requesting a song and seeing if there was a contest to play.

Radio DNA – My son Teddy trying on my Sony MDR-V600 headphones at a station remote in 2009.

This question surprised me on a number of levels.

  • Like many teenagers, he’s generally more invested in watching videos on YouTube than listening to the radio;
  • When he does listen to music, it usually involves navigating his Spotify playlist or playing records (yes, records) at home;
  • He’s never expressed interest in calling a radio station before.

He further surprised me by knowing the phone numbers of the stations by heart. He punched in the number of the one we were listening to. Knowing the possibilities on the other end of the line, I prepped him a bit. “Morning shows are really busy, so it’s possible they won’t answer.”

Ring…ring…ring…and that’s what happened with the first station. No answer, no voicemail, no nothing. Just ringing.

He mentioned another station and asked to call that show. Sure, why not.

Ring…ring…ring…no answer. No voicemail.

Rinse and repeat with a few other stations until there were no other stations the boy was interested in talking to.

In every single instance that morning, at every radio station he called, there was no response. Just ringing.

My first reaction was disappointment for him. When I was his age, I called radio stations all the time for the same reason. And usually, someone picked up the phone. I made requests on the CHR stations. Gave opinions on the sports talk station. Some of my idols were DJs. Those phone calls inspired me to want to be one of them.

When I got out of school each day, I would listen to Rick Chase afternoons at KMEL/San Francisco.

So here we are in 2020, trying to figure out ways to keep radio relevant for younger generations. Meanwhile, a 13-year-old gets the urge to call a local radio station and no one picks up. Guess how many times he’s tried again since?

You know the answer.

This really struck me when I arrived at the office and discussed this with Matt Bailey of Integr8 Research, our sister company. It’s not the fact that no one was available to answer the phone that bothered us – that’s unavoidable.

It’s the fact that, despite all the tech we have available now, radio stations are just letting the phone ring when a listener is actually calling to engage!

I covered radio’s long-standing “I’ll see what I can do” attitude in a December blog post, challenging stations to do better when listeners make requests. But now I wonder, just how many opportunities to engage listeners are we leaving on the table?

What if, when a listener calls your radio station and the jock is unavailable, it goes to a recording of whoever is on-air at that time (schedule the recordings in sync with the air schedule) letting the caller know they can’t pick up the call right away but encouraging the caller to leave a message with a request? Or a question? Or feedback? Why aren’t we taking this opportunity to record testimonials for promos?

This can be customized. The jocks can toggle between being available to talk live and when they need the voicemail backup. Instead of voicemail, if it won’t be long, ask the caller to wait on hold for a minute. During that hold, the caller can listen live or listen to a promo.

Can your station app have a “Talk to Control Room” button that automatically allows for this recording if the station can’t be reached? Or one that goes to chat instead?

Keeping consumers interested in radio must involve dissecting every point of contact and removing points of possible friction. The request line is one friction point.

Hopefully, my son will get the urge to call a station again. But I guarantee if he just gets ringing, there won’t be a third time.

Three Reasons The Kelly Clarkson Show Is a Hit

Tuesdays With Coleman

For many personalities, features are integral elements of their shows.

In radio, think “Phone Taps”. “War of the Roses”. “Second Date Update”.

The right features can turn your radio show into appointment listening and come with PPM benefits, but there are perceptual benefits as well. Features can be used as a way to accelerate brand growth. Features can be buzzworthy, generating the kind of virality necessary in today’s media landscape.

That’s exactly what’s propelling the growth of Kelly Clarkson’s new television talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Clarkson begins every show with a feature called “Kellyoke”. Most songs are requested by a member of the studio audience. She covers songs that span just about every genre. And sometimes she has her guests join in the fun.

When Garth Brooks sat in with Clarkson a couple of weeks ago, he busted out the guitar for a slew of covers, including “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding and “Night Moves” by Bob Seger. He showed how “The River” was inspired by “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor. Then, after she requested “To Make You Feel My Love” and Brooks delivered a quiet, beautiful rendition, Clarkson got emotional, wiping away tears and saying, “If you would have told me as a kid that moment would have happened…I just can’t believe my life sometimes. You’re just sitting here serenading.”

After only a month, The Kelly Clarkson Show averaged 1.9 million viewers per episode, a pretty stout number for daytime TV. She’s beating Maury, Dr. Oz and Rachael Ray, all of which have been around much longer.

Clarkson isn’t the first singer to launch a daytime talk show, but you may not have lasting memories of shows hosted by Harry Connick, Jr., Queen Latifah and Carnie Wilson. John McEnroe, Tony Danza, Wayne Brady and Anderson Cooper could all share stories of how challenging daytime TV is.

So why is Kelly Clarkson’s new show a hit?

  1. She is totally on-brand.

Kelly Clarkson has never been anything but her true, authentic self. She’s wildly enthusiastic, is someone you’d love to be besties with, is a cheerleader for others (see: Kelly as a judge on The Voice) and wears her emotions on her sleeve.

If The Kelly Clarkson Show was a straightforward monologue and interview show, would it experience the same success? Or does it work because the show is designed to play to her strengths?

  1. She starts with her best material.

If you’ve ever worked with personality coach Steve Reynolds, you may be familiar with his Wheel of Fortune story. Once upon a time, the show began with introductions of each of the contestants before getting to the first puzzle. Eventually, producers learned to hook you in with a puzzle before getting to the boring stuff. Jeopardy! follows the same formula, with Alex Trebek waiting until well into the first round to meet the players.

So if “Kellyoke” is the show’s best feature, why not put it at the top? The thought that viewers will wait through the show to get to the good stuff is old school thinking that isn’t adapted to today’s viewing habits.

  1. “Kellyoke” is something new.

Trying to come up with a memorable feature for your show? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You also don’t have to do your own version of a feature that already exists, perhaps in another market or on another platform.

Kelly Clarkson singing covers isn’t a revolutionary idea. But it’s fun, it plays to her strengths and has a catchy name. It’s designed to go viral, as it did with Garth Brooks.

Personality and feature research continues to be a very important component of many of our studies.

By measuring the perceptions of your personalities, you can better understand which types of features may be an excellent brand fit (like “Kellyoke” for Clarkson). Understanding how your audience emotionally connects and responds to your features can provide essential guidance to brand building and long-term measurable success.

Confessions of “I’ll See What I Can Do”

Tuesdays With Coleman

I’m conflicted.

On the one hand, the version of this meme that popped up on my Facebook feed over the weekend is easily my favorite:

Unsurprisingly, many of my radio friends liked the post because, like me, they’ve lived the post.

I can’t possibly tell you how many times I’ve had this exchange with a listener on the request line over the years. The exact verbiage, of course, may differ. I might have said:

“I’ll try and get that on for you.”

“It might be coming up in the next hour.”

“I’ll give it my best shot.”

Little did the listener know I had a music log in front of me and I was well aware of whether or not it was coming up. And, if I used one of those responses, you can be assured it was not coming up.

While everyone who’s ever cracked a mic at a radio station can relate, I feel some guilt about it now. In addition, it’s not a practice today’s radio stations can continue.

When you wanted to hear your favorite song pre-streaming, you had to own the recording. If you didn’t, the radio station could provide that service, hence the request line.

Today if a listener calls the request line and is told, “I’ll see what I can do” or “It’s coming up” and it doesn’t come up, there is no leverage for the station. That angry and disappointed listener that waited and waited for their song can easily stream it on-demand.

We know the percentage of listeners that will ever call a radio station’s request line is very low. So is the percentage of listeners that will agree to carry a meter or fill out a ratings diary.

If someone takes the time to call a request line, they should be treated like royalty.

If you can’t play the song that’s requested, instead of saying “I’ll see what I can do,” maybe find out what other songs and artists she likes.

Ask what she likes most about your station. Or, ask what she thinks the station could do better.

Ask how long she’s been listening. Ask where she works. Find out who her favorite artists are. Learn if she plays your contests.

It’s not about trying to gather actionable data. You’ll want a research study with a representative sample to achieve that.

But if the goal is to provide outstanding engagement and customer service when the consumer has countless other options to choose from, dropping “I’ll see what I can do” from the vocabulary is probably a good place to start.

 

Three Takeaways from Internet Summit

Tuesdays With Coleman

I’m a big believer that radio can benefit from conferences that are not completely radio-centric but feature beneficial and actionable sessions. One example of this is Digital Summit, which is held in 23 locations across the United States.

Coleman Insights HQ is in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, where Digital Summit’s sister event, Internet Summit is held. In the past two years, this event featured marketing icon Seth Godin as the keynote speaker, and I wrote blog posts on both occasions. There was Seth Godin’s Brand Lessons for Radio in November 2017 and last December’s Direct Marketing is Easy. Brand Marketing is Hard, one of our most read and talked about Tuesdays With Coleman entries.

Seth Godin Internet Summit

Marketer Seth Godin delivered the keynote address at Internet Summit in 2017 and 2018.

One session I attended (and hadn’t originally intended to attend) was called “It’s More Than Data: We’ve Been Doing Content Strategy Wrong,” presented by Paxton Gray. Gray is the Executive Vice President of Operations at a digital marketing agency called 97th Floor. While the content of the session itself was useful and interesting, there were two other things that really caught my attention and made the visit to this room memorable.

Upon introducing himself, Gray offered the chance to win a copy of Seth Godin’s latest book, “This is Marketing” (somehow it always comes back to Seth Godin) and a $100 gift card to an attendee who comments on his most recent LinkedIn post. The post was this:

97th Floor hosts a marketing book club

There are a number of clever things about this strategy. Of course, I took the bait and went to his LinkedIn page, and before seeing the post I sent a connection request. Then I read the post, which tells you about a Book Club he started at his company. They buy a book for everyone at 97th Floor that wants one and sometimes discuss it over dinner. By asking for recommendations of books, podcasts or blogs, he’s created post engagement and increased the chances of it going viral. So of course I plugged Tuesdays With Coleman, he engaged back right away, and then I didn’t think about it for the next week.

That was until I opened my LinkedIn page to take a peek at my news feed, and guess what came up—a post from 97th Floor.

97th Floor hosts an Alumni Night

This one shared a picture of the company’s recent Alumni Night at Topgolf. The post explains how 97th Floor alumni have access to an alumni network that includes a dedicated Slack channel that allows them to stay connected and share job opportunities. Once again, it’s a post with a pretty good idea that promotes company culture without having to say, “Our culture is awesome!” (Sidebar: if that’s how you promote company culture you might not have a great company culture.)

There are ideas and inspiration to be found outside the lines of where you’ve always expected them to be. So this year’s takeaways for the radio industry are:

  1. Attend a non-radio conference.

We love radio conferences, including the always great Worldwide Radio Summit. Radio is embracing Podcast Movement, a very wise move. But do you think radio could benefit from a conference like Digital Summit, which is loaded with sessions on items like website optimization, social media, SEO and email marketing?

I do.

  1. Start a book club.

In our fragmented world (see last week’s blog, Disney+, Decision Paralysis and Your Brand for more on fragmentation), we’re all consuming different content. The thought of having programming and sales reading the same book, listening to the same podcast, subscribing to the same blog and then comparing notes feels like a good way to improve communication and learn some new things together in the process.

  1. Embrace alumni.

While the idea of an alumni network may not be transferable, we do know radio loves a good reunion and that listeners build connections with personalities. Often their favorite personalities go away, never to be heard from again. By periodically embracing its past, radio can find another outlet to maintain the bond between listener and station.

Thanks to Paxton Gray for the inspiration for today’s post. Keep those ideas flowing!