Friday, 19 June 2009

Flavour of The Old School

This morning, at one of my daughters’ schools, it was “Fathers Into School Day”. They do this thing at her school a couple of times a year. It’s a kind of ‘open day’ where just the Dads can come and hang out at school, sit in on the lessons, see what goes on, help your kids with their school work and have some lunch. (Don’t worry – they have a “Mums Into School Day” too!)

My eldest daughter, Issy, is 6 and she thought it was great fun to have her Dad in her classroom, and show me everything she’s doing, and introduce me to all her mates (including her boyfriend!).

But actually, I think I had more fun than her! It was a great opportunity to just experience the school during a normal working day, and see everyone go about their business.

It reminded me of something we did many years ago when I worked at Power FM. We had a ‘Listener Open Day’. Listeners could turn up at the radio station on a pre-determined day, get a tour of the building, hang out for a while in the studios and see the DJ’s in action and generally get the vibe of the place. I even think we also asked for a small donation too, which went to a local charity.

I remember getting the feeling at the time that the process really helped to cement the loyalty of listeners even further, and acted as a real opportunity to be entirely transparent and show people what went on at the radio station which for many, was a significant part of their lives (i.e. they woke up with the Morning Show, listened at work, listened in the car etc)

Certainly, my experience today brought me much closer to ‘the brand’ (in this case, my daughters’ school) and made me feel much more of an emotional bond with it.

Winning the radio battle is as much about ‘encouraging loyalty’ as anything else... so any initiative that does that (at very little real cost to the business) must be something worth considering.

Most of the current thinking in many companies, regardless of sector, is how to create a dialogue with its customer base. This is a slightly harder job when you’re a bank or sell bread for example. But in radio, we’re good at communicating with people... so why not try removing the microphone and transmitter, and have a real dialogue with some real listeners for a change. Chances are they’ll tell some of their friends that they had a trip round their favourite radio station, and “...the guys at Radio FM were really nice you know...!”

And don’t underestimate the power of the building you work in! It may be just a workplace to you, but most people have never been inside a real radio station, so will probably find the experience quite exciting! You never know... in these recessionary times, a trip to your radio station may become the next hot ticket in town.

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