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Promotional ideas and technique. Always radio, always positive.

That fuzzy line between content and promotion

The erosion of boundaries between what we consider to be promotion and content is a recurrent theme on this blog. We don’t always spell it out like that but Jonathan and I like to showcase effective examples of S&P work, contests and planned spot campaigns that work in the interests of audiences, sponsors and radio stations alike.

What we see is that great content has promotional value and great promotions generate talkable content.

It makes you wonder why so many radio stations still operate discrete departments for programming and promotional marketing. What reason is there now to separate the planning, writing and idea generation for promotions, editorial content and programming? I’d be interested in your views, especially if you work in one such team.

Meanwhile, let me share two new and starkly contrasting examples of this common fusion of purpose. Here are two editorial innovations that speak volumes about a station’s identity and, when exposed in the right place, can drive trial or loyalty or both.

Serial on BBC Radio 4 Extra

Serial podcast logoThe BBC has licensed the much-talked-about and totally gripping Serial podcast from WBEZ for national radio broadcast in the UK. Podcasts may remain a relatively small feature on the audio landscape but Serial has broken through into the dinner parties of the chattering classes and the weekend broadsheets. Now BBC Radio 4 Extra has snapped it up for nightly radio transmission from Sunday.

Many others have written about this series and the freshness of its production approach so I won’t dwell on that other than to say I agree (although WNYC’s RadioLab remains my favourite US public radio show). What’s relevant for this blog is the promotional effect of the move.

  • Properly trailed, it will encourage trial of BBC Radio 4 Extra and so introduce the station to a new audience.
  • The programme’s addictive storyline should drive loyalty and nudge towards the beginnings of some habitual listening, building hours.
  • In positioning terms, it reminds us that Radio 4 Extra is not just an archives channel. It’s connected to the zeitgeist and the world.

Video news from Eagle Radio

It’s early days for Tristan and his daily video (we haven’t seen a complete rotation of his tie collection yet) but this is an interesting way to take Eagle Radio’s local news agenda and give it some life outside the linear radio station and its own website.

Eagle Radio logo

Despite the efforts of Soundcloud, Audioboom and embedded audio functionality within chat apps, video remains more shared than audio online so this bulletin is ready for social media and at-work viewing. It will work if it gets the Eagle Radio name out there to new audiences who care about local news.

With local television due to come to Surrey next year, the timing is good too. Either there’ll be increased competition in the local news video space or Eagle can sell this product on to the new tv channel. Local newspaper groups are building up their video firepower but not with formal, authored bulletins.

Eagle-owners UKRD appear to have hubbed their video operation in Cornwall to stop the neck tie budget spiralling out of control but I think that’s ok so long as they pronounce the local places names correctly.

In summary

Content can have a profound promotional effect that’s built-in, not slapped on.

These two examples, while from virtually opposite ends of the radio business, demonstrate this value in ways that can benefit audiences.

Programmers and marketers – have a chat.

Steve Martin has more than twenty five years experience in radio production, promotions, marketing and journalism. A former BBC editor, he now works with broadcasters and digital media organisations in Africa. Steve is contracted to the BBC but any views are personal.

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