All posts by Seth Resler

7 Digital Mistakes Radio Stations Make That Can Hurt Event Ticket Sales

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Summer concert season is now in full swing and many radio stations around the country have been hard at work booking their own festivals. These events can be a significant source of non-traditional revenue for radio stations. Yet many radio stations will make digital mistakes that prevent them from selling more tickets and making more money. Here are some of those common mistakes and tips on how your radio station can avoid them:

1. Radio stations don’t pay enough attention to the event’s landing page on the website.
If you are selling tickets to your radio station’s big event, the webpage that tells listeners about that event is incredibly important. Think of it as a two-step process:

  1. Drive people to the station’s event page.
  2. When they get there, get those people to buy tickets.

Too many radio stations focus on the first step and ignore the second. If the station event’s webpage doesn’t make people want to buy tickets, it doesn’t matter how many people see it. Review this page on your site and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this page have all the necessary details about the concert: Performers? Date? Time? Location including address? Price? Age restrictions? Parking instructions?
  • Does the page have a big, bright button that says “Buy Tickets” which makes the call to action really obvious?
  • Does the page feature an embedded audio promo for those baby bands that listeners don’t know by name? (“Oh, they do that song!”)
  • Have you removed all other links except the “Buy Tickets” button, including the sidebar and main menu? (This is called a “squeeze page” because it drives people towards a single action.)

When designing your station’s event page, here’s a checklist to guide you. You can also test the effectiveness of your radio station’s event page with a website usability test.

2. Radio stations don’t make it easy to get to the event page.
Radio stations often promote their big concert by including it as the first slide in the slideshow on their homepage, but nowhere else. My official position is that the homepage slideshow is an abhorrent feature that should be abolished from every music radio station website in America. But even if you’re not willing to go that far, it’s important to recognize that just including the concert in the slideshow isn’t enough. For starters, after a few seconds, the slide switches and now there’s nothing on your homepage to direct people to the event page.

To fix this, make sure there’s a link to the event page in your site’s main menu. Also, make sure that the concert listings page has a big, obvious link to the station event page. I strongly recommend including a link to the station event page at the top of the website sidebar. I would also use some of the website ad inventory to advertise the station event. Finally, consider using pop-up windows to promote the station concert. (Be cautious — we don’t want this to turn into a slippery slope that leads to the sales department selling pop-up ads for discount mattress stores.)

You can find out if listeners are having a hard time getting to the station concert page by running a website usability test.

3. Radio stations send listeners directly to the ticketing agency’s webpage.
Some radio stations direct listeners to the event webpage of the ticketing service instead of sending people to a page on their own website. For example, a station might tweet out a link to the “WKRP Big Picnic Concert” page on Ticketmaster’s site. The problem is that the station has very little control over Ticketmaster’s site. It can’t change the designs to make the page more enticing to potential concert goers. And it can’t see any analytics to measure how much traffic it is driving to the tickets page. Whenever possible, you want to drive traffic to your radio station’s website, not somebody else’s. That’s especially true when you have revenue riding on the page.

4. Radio stations flood social media with salesy posts instead of creating compelling content.
People don’t like ads. We go to great lengths to skip them. So when posts pop up in our Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter streams telling us to “Buy tickets now!,” we get annoyed. Typically, these types of blatantly promotional posts don’t perform well on social media.

So what do you do? Create compelling content. If a band is performing at your concert, send the record label a list of written questions for its members. Then publish the answers as a Q&A on your website. In this interview, embed a YouTube video of the band’s latest single. In both the introduction and the conclusion of the interview, mention that the band will be performing at your concert and include a big, bright “Buy Tickets” button.

Now, share this interview on your social media accounts. It’s likely to attract more incoming website traffic than a salesy post and the people it attracts are more likely to be interested enough in the band to go see them perform live.

5. Radio stations focus on social media and ignore other marketing channels.
When radio stations seek my advice for selling more tickets to their concerts, they usually ask about social media to the exclusion of other digital marketing avenues. Social media can be powerful, but it’s only one part of the equation. Make sure that you are also using these channels:

  • Your Airwaves: Create an easy-to-remember vanity URL that redirects to your station concert page, such as wkrp.com/bigpicnic. Use this URL in recorded promos, sweepers and live on-air mentions.
  • Search Engines: People often turn to search engines like Google when looking for information about big radio station concerts. Make sure that you’ve properly optimized your station’s website — especially the station event page — for search engines.
  • Email Blasts: You know that email database you’ve been collecting names for all year? This is why you did it. Email marketing is a crucial component in your concert promotion strategy.
  • Text Messaging: Texting can be an effective way to reach your listeners, but be sure to check with your station’s legal team first. Some broadcasting companies have been fined for violating text message spam laws, so you’ll want to make sure that you don’t run into any issues.

6. Radio stations don’t track their ticket sales efforts with Google Analytics.
Having a website and not looking at its Google Analytics reports is like having a radio station and ignoring the ratings. I noted above that selling tickets is a two-step process: first, you drive people to your event page, then you convert them into ticket buyers. Google Analytics can show you how you’re doing at each stage. Are you attracting people back to your website but not convincing them to buy? Then you need to revise the page (see #1). Are you failing to get people to the website at all? Maybe your social media posts are too salesy (see #3). Use Google Analytics to make informed decisions about your marketing strategy. If you’re new to Google Analytics, here’s a guide for radio programmers.

7. Radio stations don’t put a link for sponsorship inquiries on the station event page.
Tickets sales aren’t the only way to generate revenue from station events; sponsorship dollars are often just as important. Make it easy for potential advertisers who are interested in your event to request sponsorship information. Include a link on the station event page for people to request more information.

If ticket sales for your radio station’s big event are underwhelming, see if you’re making any of these mistakes. A correction could have a significant impact on the bottom line.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How to Back Up Your Radio Station’s Soundcloud Files

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Last week, Soundcloud.com laid off 40% of its workforce — 173 of its 420 employees. Despite having over 175 million users in 2014 (the last year the company released numbers for), the audio hosting website has struggled to find a profitable business model. In 2015, it lost over $50 million. Spotify and Twitter flirted with the idea of acquiring Soundcloud, but neither deal materialized; instead, SiriusXM invested in the company.

I am not in the business of speculating about the future of tech companies. However, so many radio stations use Soundcloud as a means of sharing audio clips — from morning show bits to artist interviews — that I think it’s worth issuing a warning: If your station has important audio files hosted on Soundcloud, make sure that you have them backed up on a local hard drive.

Some tracks can be downloaded by logging into Soundcloud and clicking the small ‘Download’ button beneath the track itself. However, not all tracks are downloadable directly from Soundcloud; it depends on the settings of the user who uploaded the track.

If you don’t see a ‘Download’ button beneath the track, you can use a third party website to download it. This usually involves copying the URL of the track you want to download, pasting it into the other website, and clicking a button to grab the clip. I have found mixed results with these third party sites, but here are a few that worked for me:

  1. Anything2MP3.com
  2. SCDownloader.net
  3. 9SoundcloudDownloader.com

Another option is to install an extension in your web browser that allows you to download Soundcloud tracks. For example, the Soundcloud Downloader Free extension for Google Chrome adds a ‘Download’ button beneath Soundcloud tracks to make it easy to back up your files.

I can’t predict what will happen to Soundcloud, but you can protect your radio station from any unpleasant surprises by taking some time to back up all of your Soundcloud tracks today.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

5 Tips for Writing Better Headlines on Your Radio Station Website

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When you write news articles or blogposts for your radio station’s website, the most important line is the headline. That’s because the headline will appear all over the internet: when people share the post on social media, find it in their search results, pull it into their RSS reader, open to it in an automated email campaign, etc.

Good headlines are a crucial component of your overall digital strategy because this is how you use your content to draw people from social media and search engines back to your website. Compelling headlines can have a significant impact on your overall website traffic. With that in mind, here are five tips for writing better website content headlines:

1. Don’t Be Too Vague…
Don’t assume that people will only see your headline in the context of your website. Headlines should make sense by themselves because people may encounter them off your site with no other clues about their meaning. For example, your headline may appear in a retweet, in which case the reader wouldn’t even know that this headline was written by a radio station! Headlines should give people all of the information they need to decide if they want to read an article.

Example: Instead of “Concerts,” try “Boston Concerts.” Instead of “Interview with Brad Paisley,” try “WKRP’s Johnny Fever Interviews Brad Paisley.”

2. …But Leave Some Mystery
Have you ever watched a movie trailer and thought, “I don’t need to see that movie now; I already know everything that happens!” A bad headline can have the same effect. If you put too much information in the headline, people may feel like they don’t need to click through to your website to read the post. A great headline strikes a balance between telling people what a post is about and also intriguing people enough to make them click.

Example: Instead of “Katy Perry and Taylor Swift Are Fighting Over Backup Dancers,” try, “Here’s the Real Cause of the Rift Between Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.”

3. Include Proper Nouns
Search engines like Google use headlines to determine what a post is about and whether it should be included in their search results. By including the proper nouns that people are most likely to type into Google when doing a search, you can increase your website’s traffic. If you get too cute with blog post titles, it could hurt your website in its search engine rankings.

Example: Instead of “The Fab 5 Remaster a Classic Album,” try “The Beatles Release Remastered ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ Album.”

4. Include Your Radio Station’s Keywords
Keywords are the words or phrases that people type into a search engine when looking for content. Your radio station should know the most important keywords for its website and include these in headlines as much as is appropriate. Your keywords might include your city, your format, your disc jockey’s names, etc. Don’t miss opportunities to include these.

Example: Instead of “5 Things to Do This Weekend,” try “5 Fun Things to Do in Detroit This Weekend.”

5. Match the Style of Your Co-Authors
If your radio station’s website has multiple authors contributing content, make sure that they all match stylistically. I often come across radio station websites where it’s obvious that different staffers wrote different headlines: some use title case while others use sentence case; some abbreviate while others do not; some include emojis while others don’t. It’s helpful to create a style guide for your radio station’s website content that covers headline writing to ensure that everything has a consistent look to it.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Google Alerts: A Handy Tool Every Radio Broadcaster Should Know About

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

We all know that we can go to Google.com and search the web for information on a particular topic. But did you know that you can tell Google to constantly do a background search of the web and let you know whenever it finds a new webpage about that topic? You can — using a feature called Google Alerts. Here’s how it works:

1. Go to Google.com/Alerts and enter a keyword or phrase in the search bar.

Enter yhttp://Google.com/Alertsour word or phrase just as you would if you were doing a regular Google search. For example, if you want an exact phrase match, enter the term in quotation marks (e.g., “Howard Stern”).

2. Before you click the ‘Create Alert’ button, click ‘Show Options.’

Google lets you specify how you want this alert to work. For example, you can specify whether you want “All Results” or “Only the Best Results.” The most important option is the “Deliver To” dropdown menu. You can have the results sent to you as an email, but I prefer to have the results delivered in an RSS feed.

RSS Feeds

Think of an RSS feed as a cable channel that can be plugged into an RSS Reader, which is like a television set. You can choose the feeds you want to plug in to your reader and customize your own “cable package.”

For example, you can set up alerts for “WKRP,” “Howard Stern,” and “Pandora” and have those delivered to a Feedly RSS Reader account so that you can gather everything you want to read into one place. News sites and blogs usually have their own RSS feeds as well, so you could also pull feeds for TMZ, Entertainment Weekly and your local newspaper’s sports section in the reader.

(You can even use RSS feeds to create a free, customized show prep service. Here’s a tutorial.)

More Google Alerts

Once you’ve set up your first Google Alert, repeat the process for as many keywords or phrases as you want. Here are some ideas:

    • Your station’s call letters.
    • The station’s on-air talent.
    • The morning show.
    • Signature station events, such as concerts.
    • Benchmark features and specialty shows.
    • Your competition’s call letters, DJs, events and key features.
    • Areas of interest to you: smart speakers, autonomous cars, podcasts, etc.

If you like digital techniques like this one, you may want to check out our webinar recording: “Digital Tricks Every Radio DJ Should Know.”

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

4 Things You Can Remove From Your Radio Station’s Homepage

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

The website homepage is more important for radio stations than it is for many other businesses that use a Content Marketing strategy to attract web traffic. For most businesses, the strategy works like this: create online content (blogposts) and share that content through social media and search engines to pull people back to your website. This means that in a successful content marketing strategy, most visitors come to the website through a side door (a blogpost), not the front door (the homepage).

But radio stations have a third channel to drive traffic to their websites: their airwaves. Listeners hear the website mentioned on the radio, go to a browser and type in the station’s url directly. As a result, radio stations see a much higher percentage of their traffic come through the homepage than other businesses. In Google Analytics terms, website visitors who type the url into their browser are called ‘direct traffic.’

Because radio stations typically see so much direct traffic, the design of the homepage is critical. Unfortunately, too many radio stations cram too much stuff onto their homepages. As I’ve seen in the course of running many usability tests on radio station websites, the result is an overwhelming and frustrating mess.

Most radio stations would benefit by removing unnecessary elements from their homepage. The key to doing this is to understand what role different webpages play in your online strategy. After all, not all webpages serve the same purpose. Some pages, such as blogposts, are there to attract people to the website in the first place. Others, such as contest pages, are there to capture data from your listeners. To accomplish the goals of your digital strategy, you need to not only know what the purpose of each webpage is, but also when to present that page to your website visitors.

With that in mind, let’s look at some elements which you can remove from your radio station’s homepage:

1. The Slideshow
If there’s one element that is single-handedly bringing down the quality of every radio station website in America, it’s the slideshow. The slideshow was designed to showcase multiple different stories on a website. It makes sense for bloggers, news stations and sports stations. It has no business on a music station’s website.

Yet almost every single music radio station has one. Why? Because the slideshow prevents fights inside the station. When the morning show is demanding some homepage real estate to promote their signature bit, and the MD wants to showcase a hot new band, and the promotions director wants to plug this weekend’s street team stop, and the sales manager needs a little something to close the deal with Dunkin’ Donuts, it’s really useful to dole out homepage slides like you’re Oprah Winfrey giving away cars. (“You get a slide! And you get a slide!”)

But this does nothing for the listeners.

Think of your homepage as a billboard for your radio station — it’s a chance to make a first impression. What’s the first and most important thing you want your listeners to know about your station? That you’re giving away coffee coolattas and tickets to The Fast and the Furious 26?

No.

You want people to know what type of music you play and the other important features of your station. The homepage is the place for core artists, positioning statements and perhaps photos of the morning show cast. For the sake of your listeners, axe the slideshow, even if it means that your staff argues more.

2. Blogposts
Blogposts and news stories are great pieces of content to drive people to your radio station’s website from social media and search engines. Once people are already on your station’s site, however, these pieces of content have served their purpose. There is no reason to send them there now; instead, you want visitors to accomplish one of the goals of your website: stream the station, sign up for the email list, enter a contest, etc. So don’t use valuable homepage real estate to send people to your station’s blog; use it to steer them towards one of these goals.

This doesn’t mean that you’re preventing people from reading the blog once they’re on the homepage; you should still link to it in your site’s main menu. It just means that you aren’t going to go out of your way to send them to a blogpost when you could be sending them towards one of the site’s goals.

3. Social Media Widgets
By the same token, the point of having social media accounts is to attract people to your station’s website so you can get them to accomplish one of your goals. Once they’ve come to the site, the last thing you want to do is send them back to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Instead, keep them on your website. Remove any widgets that display your station’s latest tweets and status updates (but keep a link to your social media accounts).

4. The Weather
The weather appears on radio station websites as a holdover from a bygone era. People don’t go to radio station websites to find out the weather — there’s an app for that! (Though I prefer to ask Alexa while getting dressed.) Weather may still have a place on your radio station’s airwaves — even if it’s more likely to be motivated by sponsorship dollars than listener demand — but it has no place on your radio station’s homepage unless you are running a news station.

When it comes to radio station homepages, less is more. Use this prime real estate to make a first impression and drive your listeners towards the site’s goals. Remove anything that doesn’t advance this strategy.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

9 Ways to Promote Your Radio Station’s Mobile App

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Smartphones are everywhere. In our latest Techsurvey, 87% of radio listeners report having a smartphone. 41% admit to being addicted to them. So, it’s imperative that your radio station have an app to make itself available to listeners on their mobile phones.

But, it’s not just enough to have an app — you also need to promote it. One of the biggest mistakes we see radio stations make with their mobile apps is that they fail to promote them enough. Here are some ways your radio station can get word out about your station’s app:

1. Use the Proper Keywords
Think of the Apple and Android app stores as big search engines. When people go there, the first thing they usually do is search for an app. To make it easy for your listeners to find yours, you’ll want to do a few things.

For starters, give people exactly what they are looking for: Name the app after your radio station as you most commonly say it on the air, and use the station’s logo for the icon image. Apple allows you to include several keywords when you submit your app. You may want to include your station’s call letters (if they are not part of the station name), the station’s city, the name of any high-profile shows or on-air talent, or the music format. Android does not allow you to submit keywords, so make sure that you work all of these terms into the description of the app. Apple offers tips on submitting apps, and Google gives advice as well.

2. Ask Listeners to Review Your App
People often check the reviews for an app before downloading it to their phone, so encourage your listeners to leave positive reviews. You can do this by sending a Push Notification to people who have download the app asking to leave a review.

3. Live On-Air Mentions
You’ve got airwaves, so use ’em. Your DJs should encourage people to download the app. While generic mentions of the app will work, calls to action that involve specific content can be more effective. For example, your afternoon jock might say, “If you missed Sam and Diane’s interview with Miley Cyrus this morning, you can listen to it in the WKRP app.”

4. On-Air Production Elements
Sweepers and bumpers are a great place to promote your station’s mobile app. Another option is to create a series of recorded promos with each one focusing on a different feature of the app. If you have particular features on the air that have corresponding sections in the app, you may want to mention this in the production elements for that on-air feature. For example: “This is the WKRP Concert Calendar. For a complete list of upcoming shows, download our app.” Or, “This is the Local Music Show on WKRP. For a list of songs from tonight’s show, download our app.”

5. Email Blasts
Send a link to the app to your email list. If you have an automated drip campaign set up, use the very first email, sent as soon as people register for your email list, to encourage people to download the app.

6. Social Media
Social media posts with a link to the app, especially on Facebook and Twitter, can be an effective way to drive app downloads. While you can simply post a link to the app store, you may want to consider using a “deep link.” A deep link directs people to a specific piece of content within the app, such as the Miley Cyrus interview. If the person clicking on the link already has the app installed, the app will open and they will be taken directly to that content. If they don’t have the app installed yet, they will be directed to the app store and be asked to install the app.

7. At Events
When your street team is out at events, they should actively encourage people to download the station’s app: “Want to spin the prize wheel for a beer koozie? Download the WKRP and will give you a shot.”

If your on-air talent is on stage introducing a band at a concert, they should encourage people to download the app: “I’m DJ No Name, and if you want to hear the interview I did with this band earlier today, download the WKRP app.”

8. Signage
The phrase “Download our app” should appear on your station van, your banner-on-a-roll, and the backs of your bumper stickers. You can also print it on ticket stubs and wristbands.

9. Podcasts
If your radio station produces podcasts, this offers a nice opportunity to get some extra bang out of your promotional buck. While iOS devices come with a Podcasts app pre-installed, Android devices do not. This makes it more difficult for Android users to listen to a podcast and, as a result, the overwhelming majority of podcast listening happens on Apple devices. When you promote your station’s podcasts on the air, chances are most Android users won’t know how to listen to them. But if you’ve included the podcasts in your app, you can make it easy. Just say, “Want to listen to our podcast? Download our app!” Ta-da! With a single line, you’ve promoted both your app and your podcast.

Mobile App Strategy Webinar
jacappsWant to learn more? We’re partnering with our sister company, jācapps, to host a special webinar, “Mobile 101: What Every Radio Station Should Know About Mobile App Strategy.”
Register here.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Podcasts Are Different From Radio Shows…and It Matters

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

As I work with different radio stations across the country, many of them dip their toes into the podcasting pool by repurposing their on-air shows as on-demand shows. The results are often less than spectacular.

That’s because while radio shows and podcasts are similar, they’re not the same. There are important differences between the two mediums. These differences make it easier to repurpose some radio shows than others. For example, public radio shows like Fresh Air, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and The Moth can be published as podcast episodes with little or no changes, but five-hour commercial morning shows or music-driven radio shifts don’t work as well as podcasts.

Here are the key differences between radio shows and podcasts:

1. Mass Appeal vs. Niche Topics
Generally speaking, radio shows aim to cover a wide range of mass appeal topics, including sports, celebrity news and general interest topics. It’s common for radio stations to use the “morning zoo” format: a collection of likable hosts discussing popular subjects.

Radio stations do this because the audience they reach is already limited by two factors: the station format and geographic reach. When you’re a country station in Los Angeles or a rock station in Topeka, you don’t want to further whittle down to your audience by focusing on niche topics.

Podcasts, on the other hand, are not limited by station format or geographic reach, so they can focus on specific niches. While it makes no sense to launch a radio station that focuses on knitting in Los Angeles, a knitting podcast could be successful because it has the potential to attract knitters from around the globe.

Moreover, when people go to a “podcatcher” (a podcast listening app) to find a new podcast, they often search by topic. If your podcast covers a wide range of topics, instead of focusing on a specific area like beer or parenting or politics, it may have a hard time getting discovered.

Your station’s radio shows should be mass appeal, but its podcasts should focus on a specific niche.

2. Tune In Anytime vs. Listen From the Beginning
With radio, different people tune in at different times. As broadcasters, we never know whether a listener heard our last break, so we must constantly repeat elements, like the call letters.

But with a podcast, everybody starts at the same point: the beginning of the episode. This means that the first minute of a podcast episode is crucial, because that’s when listeners decide if they will commit to the entire thing.

Although listeners all start at the beginning of the episode, they don’t all start with the first podcast episode. As a listener, my first episode of Marc Maron’s WTF may be his 300th episode (the exception is serialized podcasts like, well, Serial, which set the expectation that listeners should start with episode one), Because people may start listening to a podcast with any given episode, the first 60 seconds of every episode should repeat the same basic information: What the podcast is about, what the episode is about, who the host is, etc.

3. Time Constraints vs. No Time Constraints
On a radio show, you’ve got time constraints. If you’re hosting a morning show with no music, you may have 45+ minutes per hour to fill, while the host of a music-driven show may have only a few minutes. With a podcast, you can make your episodes as long or as short as you want.

Which is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, if you have tons of compelling content, you don’t have to worry about not being able to include it all.

On the other hand, there’s less incentive to edit your show down to just the best material because it’s so easy to upload everything.

4. Music vs. Right Issues
On the radio, we obviously play lots of music, but you can’t in a podcast because of rights issues (I’m not a lawyer, so if you want to quibble about the finer points of copyright law, go find somebody who is; but the short answer to the question, “Can I play Shakira in my podcast?,” is “No”),

This means that in a podcast, not only can we talk more that most of us do on the radio, we actually have to. When it comes to podcasts, broadcasters who don’t host talk shows probably don’t create enough on-air content to repurpose it as a podcast, so they’ll have to create some new audio content.

5. Fleeting vs. Long Shelf Life
On the radio, we do our break and then move on to the next one. Once a break is over, it disappears into the ether, never to be heard again, and we turn our attention to the next one. DJ breaks on the radio are disposable.

That’s not the case with podcast episodes. Years from now, people may listen to old episodes of Grammar Girl or Hardcore History. Podcast episodes can have a long shelf life. Of course, some contain content that is evergreen, while others tend to be more ephemeral. But unlike radio, they can all be listened to weeks, months, or even years later.

In fact, some podcasts don’t gain traction until long after their first episodes were published. My food and travel podcast saw its highest download numbers last fall — a year and a half after I stopped producing it! Creating podcasts that age well can be an effective long-term strategy, but it requires a different mindset for most radio broadcasters.

Podcast Movement
We’ve teamed up with the organizers of Podcast Movement to produce a special track at this year’s conference designed especially for radio broadcasters. The conference is in Anaheim at the end of August. Program directors, on-air talent and digital team members are invited to come learn how your radio station can thrive in the world of podcasting.  For more information, click here.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How Your Radio Station Can Send Tailored Email Campaigns to Listeners

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Email marketing is a fantastic way to stay engaged with your radio station’s listeners. You can use it to encourage them to come back to your website regularly. I am a big proponent of setting up automated email campaigns. Few stations have the personnel they need to constantly be writing new emails. But, if you let the people in your database sit for too long without sending them any email, they may be surprised when they get receive a message after months of silence and view it as spam. By automating your email campaigns, you can stay in constant touch with your listeners without overburdening your staff.

There are two types of automated email campaigns: RSS-to-Email Campaigns, which are used to send out emails linking to content that you’ve just published on your website and Drip or Autoresponder Campaigns, which are used to recycle evergreen content on your website. The campaigns discussed below are RSS-to-Email campaigns for new content.

RSS-to-Email Campaigns
Here’s how an RSS-to-Email Campaign works: Your Email Service Provider (your ESP, such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, AWeber, etc.) pulls your latest website posts and drops them into an email template, then sends the email out. Think of the RSS feed as a pipe that pushes your website content out to the ESP. If there’s nothing new in the pipe, no email goes out. And you can set these emails to go out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

You can set up different RSS feeds for different types of posts on your website. For example, if your station’s website is built in WordPress, it already has different feeds for the posts that you put in different categories. They look like this:

http://example.com/category/categoryname/feed

This means that you can set up a different email campaign for different types of posts. By doing so, you can allow listeners to tell you what type of content that they would like to have sent to them. Here’s how:

1. Set Up Your Email List with Groups
In your ESP, set up “groups” or “segments” for your email list. As part of this, you’ll be adding a checkbox question to the registration form. It might look like this:

What would you like us to send you each week?

  • Concert Info
  • Contests
  • Local Music Info
  • Morning Show Recaps

2. Create Corresponding Categories for Your Website Posts
In the backend of your website, set up categories for each of the groups. When you add content to your website, categorize it accordingly so that it is included in the proper email campaign.

3. Set Up an RSS-to-Email Campaign for Each Category
Get the RSS feed for each of the categories you have set up. For example, if your site is built in WordPress, the feed for the Contests category might be http://wkrp.com/category/contests/feed. In your ESP, use that feed to set up an automated email campaign. For example, you might set up the campaign to say, “Every Thursday at 3:00pm, check the Concerts RSS feed for new posts. If there are new posts, drop them into an email template and send it out to everybody in the ‘Concerts’ group.”

You don’t want to send out all of your automated campaigns at the same time. You may want to send your morning show recaps out daily at noon, your concert listings on Thursday mornings, your local music updates on Sunday nights and your contest info on Monday mornings. Not everybody will get every email; they’ll only receive the emails they opt into.

By setting up multiple automated campaigns, you can continually engage with your listeners by sending them just the information that they want.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

5 Ideas for Podcasts That Your Radio Station Can Launch Now

Seth Resler at NAB Show 2017 in Las Vegas

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Last Wednesday, I spoke about podcasting at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. My goal was to give everybody in the room ideas that they could use to launch a podcast in the next 30 days. You can see Inside Radio‘s writeup of my session here.

When you set out to create a new podcast, consider launching it as a pilot program. Commit to a finite number of episodes — ten, for example — and then stop to reevaluate after you’ve published those episodes. If it’s going great, publish a second season. If the concept doesn’t seem to be connecting, drop it and launch a different podcast. Most likely, the results will be somewhere in the middle and you’ll want to tweak the podcast before moving forward. By making a point of stopping to reevaluate and giving yourself the freedom to pivot, you don’t lock yourself into a never-ending commitment.

Looking for some ideas for your station’s first podcast? Here are five to consider:

1. A Passion Topic
Geekshow Podcast.  Sometimes, we have on-air talent that is passionate about a specific topic, but they are limited in how much they can talk about it on the air before alienating listeners. If your morning show co-host is a huge wrestling fan, a little can go a long way. But with a podcast, you can free your air talent up to talk about wrestling as much as they want — and they’ll probably enjoy doing so.

A great example of this is the Geekshow podcast produced by Kerry Jackson of the Radio From Hell morning show on X96 in Salt Lake City. Kerry loves geek culture, from superheroes to science fiction, so he launched a podcast dedicated to the topic. Over the years, his podcast has opened many doors for him, including enabling him to get involved with the Salt Lake City Comic Con.

Here is a list of passion topics to consider:

  • Sports
  • Food
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Movies
  • TV Shows
  • Video Games
  • Music
  • Parenting
  • Pets
  • Cars
  • Geek Culture
  • Technology
  • Fashion
  • History
  • Travel

2. A Crossover Podcast
Mega Cast. If you have two members of your airstaff who like working with each other but never get the opportunity to be on the air at the same time because of their respective dayparts, let them do a podcast together. This is what happened when morning man Steve Migliore and afternoon co-host Ted Smith of KISW in Seattle launched the Mega Cast. By enabling your personalities to team up to do a podcast, it allows listeners to get a deeper look at your station’s family.

3. A Podcast Centered on an Event
An event or a series of events can provide an ideal opportunity for a podcast. Every year, I head out to Hollywood for the Worldwide Radio Summit, where I record a series of backstage interviews with radio broadcasters. Over the past two years, I’ve interviewed people like Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan, Hubbard CEO Ginny Morris and controversial morning show personality Bubba the Love Sponge.

Consider launching a podcast around one of the following types of events:

    • Concerts
    • Sports
    • Holidays
    • Art & Wine Festivals
    • News Stories

4. Branded Content
Radio stations.  A particularly well-positioned to create a podcast series for a client. For example, if there is a big craft beer festival in your town, you could do a series of interviews with different brewers that will be featured at the event. Release these interviews as a podcast and promote them through the station’s email database, social media channels and an on-air spot schedule. This is a great way for the station to target listeners who are likely to attend the event with unique content.

5. A Podcast for Clients
Consider creating a podcast that isn’t aimed at listeners, but at advertisers and potential advertisers. This podcast series would focus on how clients can get the best results out of their radio spend. For example, one of your DJs might host a series of interviews, including conversations with:

  • The Program Director on how radio ratings work
  • The Sales Manager on how to choose the right target audience
  • The Production Director on how to write compelling commercial copy
  • The Promotions Director on how to get the most out of on-site events

When it comes to launching a podcast, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Dive right in with a pilot season and you’ll learn a lot along the way. If you’d like to learn more about these podcast ideas, you can watch this webinar.

This August, Jacobs Media is producing a special track at the Podcast Movement conference designed specifically for radio broadcasters. We’ll zero in on the issues in podcasting that radio professionals need to know about. We hope you’ll join us.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How to Give Away Lots of Digital Download Codes From a Record Label

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Earlier this week, I got a phone call from a radio programmer with an interesting question: A record label had given him 100 digital download codes for a band’s new single. He wanted to give these away through his radio station’s website. What’s the simplest way to do this and notify all of the winners, as the Promotions Director would rather not spend an entire afternoon cutting and pasting 100 emails?

I thought I’d share my answer, as many of you may find yourself in a similar situation at some point. The specific tools you will use will depend on how your station is set up, but the general principles are the same.

1. Build a contest entry form on your website using your usual software.
If you don’t already have software for this, you can use a solution like Formstack or the WordPress plugin Gravity Forms.

2. Export the contest entries as a .CSV file.
The CSV (Comma Separate Variable) file format is simply an easy way to move data from one program to another. In this case, we want to move the data out of your form-building or database software and use it in a spreadsheet.

3. Open this CSV file as a spreadsheet.
Which program you will use to open this spreadsheet will depend on what software your station uses as an email client. For example, if you use Microsoft Outlook for email, you’ll probably want to open the spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. If you you use Google’s Gmail, you probably want to open it as a Google Sheet. Note that we’re talking about the software that you use to send individual business emails, not the Email Service Provider (ESP) that you use to send mass emails to listeners (Constant Contact, Mailchimp, AWeber, etc.).

4. Randomly delete all but 100 rows.
These are your winners. I’m not a lawyer, so check with your legal team to make sure that you do this in a way that conforms with your station’s contest rules.

5. Add a new column and paste in the digital download codes from the record label.
Or, if there’s a unique link for each winner, paste these into this column.

6. Set up a Mail Merge.
A mail merge is a process in which your email program sends out lots of emails by pulling in data from a spreadsheet and dropping it into a template. It’s a convenient way to send out a large batch of emails.

To start, you’ll need to set up an email template. For example, a template might look like this:

Dear [[FIRST NAME]],

Congratulations! You’ve won a free digital download for The Archies’ new song, “Sugar Sugar.” To download it, go to http://freedownload.com and enter this code:

[[DOWNLOAD CODE]]

Enjoy!

Love,

Everyone at WKRP

Once you’ve written the template, you can set up your email program to fill in the placeholders with the data from the spreadsheet. The exact process for doing this depends on which email program you’re using, so you might need to search the web for specific instructions. Here are instructions for doing a mail merge with Outlook and Gmail.

Note that email programs may have a limit on how many mail merge emails you can send out. This is to prevent you from using mail merge to circumvent spamming laws. You may need to send out your mail merge in a couple of batches. I don’t recommend using it for a contest with several hundred or thousands of listeners, but it will work well for dozens.

Mail Merge is a great technique that can save your promotions staff a lot of time. You can use it in many other situations as well. For example, if your station is producing a concert and you need to send information to lots of band managers, or if you want to send info to a lot of clients. I hope this technique saves you some time.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.