Tuesday, 26 January 2010

"I Can See Clearly Now..."; Positioning Your Radio Station

I was reading a blog post from a former colleague of mine, Carl Lyons (he was Marketing Director at Capital FM when I was Programme Director), who writes a great blog about marketing in the digital era and how to “get famous and stay relevant”. It's called ‘Talkable Likeable’.

He’s posted a video showing Steve Jobs talking about 'branding' and how we live in a “noisy and complicated world” and that brands need to be “really clear on what we want people to know about us”.

This is a good lesson for all brands, let alone radio stations. But with that in the back of my mind, I was listening around to a variety of stations this morning, and perhaps the one station that was really clear on its proposition was BBC Radio 5 Live, with its new positioning statement, which you can hear here. (It was at the front of a ‘contact us’ sweeper).


“News, Sports and Entertainment” is a position worth commenting on for several reasons.

1. It’s certainly really clear on what the station wants us to know about it. No clever strapline, no play on words... just a very honest and precise definition of what they stand for.

2. They’ve added ‘Entertainment’! 5 Live was always about news and sports, but with the addition of people like Richard Bacon to the daytime line-up, and shows like ‘Fighting Talk’ not only retaining but adding to their popularity, it seems 5 Live have seen a gap in the market for ‘entertaining speech’ that is less stuffy than Radio 4, less contrived than LBC, and less moany than BBC London (which on occasion, can be like listening to several hours of people complaining every day!). Martin Kelner writing on Media Guardian says that news, sports and entertainment is a difficult mix to get right "...especially in the middle of a tragic natural disaster when the banter can jar somewhat."

So, in our noisy and complicated world, are 5 Live really clear on what we should know about them... or is the addition of ‘entertainment’ to the mix a negative step. Is having 3 things in your proposition providing less clarity?

Certainly it muddies the water a bit, but I think we’ll see more and more ‘entertainment’ in the mix over the coming years from 5 Live. As music stations and streaming services become a ubiquitous, amorphous glob... will it be ‘entertaining speech’ that’s the differentiating factor that provides real audience appeal?

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