Tea and sympathy
It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for the people at BBC Local Radio. They’re niggled by influential industry commentators, warned to stay off competitors’ territory, out-localled by a growing number of community stations and then only days after declaring a new focus on personality they suspend one on-air character and another leaves.
Yet despite a sometimes unhelpful backdrop, day after day these stations are infused with good work.
Enough sympathy, now tea.
Take the Big Christmas Cuppa organised by BBC Radio Solent with support from the Royal British Legion, local charity the Saints Foundation and Age UK.
The December event is inspired by presenter Alex Dyke’s encounter with pensioner Bill Palmer. Bill’s wife had been admitted to a nursing home. Alex identified Bill’s need for company and invited him into the studio.
The Daily Mail calls this “the touching moment a pensioner tells radio DJ of lonleiness” and GIF’d it up accordingly:
I encourage you to read the full story.
Now, Radio Solent has organised the Big Christmas Cuppa to cement its concern for lonely older people in the South.
It’s an event anybody can attend but with ‘Singing for the brain workshops, a Tea Dance and an Older Persons physical MOT’ the target is unmistakably senior.
It’s not flash, it’s not brash and you might question whether it’s even a promotion.
It is a classic piece of targeted creative development: the station has taken an idea that is rooted in the needs of its audience, found partners who can amplify it and, most importantly of all, has made the effort to drive it through.
But is it a promotion if it is only designed to serve the interests of the audience and not the brand? One glance at the flyer confirms its no marketing-led endeavour.
Any event that meets the very human needs of target listeners will inevitably lead to trial and trust in the station. Like great talkable on-air content, the promotional value just naturally follows. I expect the Big Christmas Cuppa will be well attended, give listeners memories they’ll treasure and yield some original programming that an even wider group of local people can enjoy.
So however you categorise it, this initiative builds listener, promotional and editorial value. In a competitive market, they’re the only things worth doing.