Talking about the other guys
When is it right for your radio station to talk about its competitors? I’ve seen style guides that effectively ban presenters from making any mention of a station’s rivals. They’re usually written from a position of fear that the merest mention of another service on air will immediately see listeners tuning away in droves.
Well, my experience of listeners is that they’re sharper than that and, let’s be frank, what does a rule like that say about the regard you have for your own station’s appeal?
This week, the saviour has shown us the way.
Chris Moyles has talked repeatedly about a bunch of other radio stations including competing services from other organisations. Along with references to the Global brands he’s mentioned Radio 1 on several occasions and during the segment with Noel Gallagher promoted the BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs programme “still available on the website” that Noel did in July.
It was a plug that didn’t go unnoticed at the Corporation.
Chris gets away with it because he is an singular talent who subverts the norms of the medium and our expectations. Yet his playfulness hides a sharper satirical effect – he’s shown us the nonsense of such gagging orders. Listeners know there are other radio stations out there. It’s just that they’ve trusted you to be part of their day and, by extension, part of their life.
So if we’re to continue to draw audiences ever closer and build these longstanding relationships of trust with them I’d argue it’s time for us to level with our listeners, operate in their field of reference and acknowledge in truth that we all exist in a sea of competing brands and services.
That very competition forces us to be better, more real, more human. So if your listeners are talking about something that interests them it follows naturally that their favourite radio presenters would do the same.
As Chris has shown, it’s possible to connect to the audience and be part of their conversation, even if that conversation involves your competitors. In my view, pretending the other guys don’t exist makes you fake and, yes, I think it’s fine to acknowledge that Grimmy is an X Factor judge, even if he is up against your breakfast show on the radio.