Should we listen to audiences more?
This Monday, I was invited to give a lecture/deliver a workshop on commercial radio to the BTEC Media Production – Radio Studies course at Lambeth College in South London. The daunting task turned into a rather pleasant experience seeing a group of seventeen students (16+ and mature students) display their affection and enthusiasm for radio. Strong knowledge and passion was delivered with critical understanding and a practical mindset – however, while I was teaching the class (well trying to) I was also learning myself. The task taught me the importance of listening to audiences and getting their input and reaction to creative decisions – as this blog post explains.
My session plan involved getting students to work to mock briefs that we created for made up companies (such as DIY World, Pizza R Us, Vodamob .etc). Students worked in teams to ‘pitch’ and ‘present’ a radio package that was delivered through a mix of airtime, SPI and online activity. This was supported with some theory about how radio sales works, how to introduce branded content to amplify the brand and the use of the creative led sell.
Students worked in small groups to come up with a range of ideas using radio in many different ways to communicate the new pizza restaurant opening, the new refurb of the DIY store .etc. What was clear was that students clearly were led by what they’ve already heard on air. Existing creative and ‘styles’ of radio steered the way that people thought. However, at times there were elements of creativity and thinking outside of the box which really caught my attention. Some of the responses to the questions and the brainstorms were ideas that we didn’t previously think of in terms of practical ways of delivering information and generate revenues. Students were not stuck behind the barriers within the ‘real world’ that we face on a daily basis. Students created on air concepts based on the ‘What Ifs’ and not the ‘What Is’ – their thoughts went outside the bubble.
Too often creativity is stopped by pressures put upon us or the appearance of it being practically difficult, require extra work .etc. In coming up with creative solutions for our clients using radio, it’s helped me to open up my imagination more and create a larger sense of breaking down barriers and putting wider creative thought into the team – as the workshop showed that curios minds generate creativity.
Moreover, the fact that the session generated an emotive response to me demonstrates the importance of involving your audience/s. It’s not done enough in my opinion. I mean pure qualitative research with audiences, asking why and how – and taking user engagement to the next level. With the rise in digital and social media – this should be easier to do than ever before. We need to listen and speak to our audiences more to help create solutions that deliver better results for advertisers and clients, by speaking and engaging with their customers more and more!
Disclaimer – All posts and views are my own, and are not endorsed or representative of any current or previous employer.
Image Source: dumbledad