Editorial: A Core Artist Just Died. Here’s How Your Station Should Handle it Online.

Seth ReslerBy: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media

Sadly, we’ve seen way too many rock stars pass away in the past few weeks: Scott Weiland, David Bowie, Glenn Frey. So what should your station’s digital response be when these tragedies occur? Here are some things you can do:

1. Do No Harm on Social Media.

First and foremost, make sure that every public-facing member of your staff knows better than to make light of the situation on social media. A poorly worded tweet can do a lot of damage, and a person’s death is not a good time to go for laughs. If you have doubt about whether or not something might be misinterpreted, skip it.

2. Create Online Content.

Even if you’re not going to drastically change your on-air programming in response to a death, you can use your website to pay homage to the departed. Create a blog post or page on your website celebrating the life of the deceased artist. Here are some ideas:

  • Have each DJ write a short paragraph about their favorite song by the artist and embed YouTube videos to accompany each paragraph.
  • Create a short listicle celebrating the artist. For example, “The Top 5 David Bowie Personas.”
  • If you have recordings of old interviews or performances, post them along with a remembrance.

Remember, if you include images in your content, make sure that you have paid for the rights to use them. Violating copyright can result in hefty fines.

3. Invite Listeners to Comment, but Police the Comments Carefully.

At the end of your content, invite listeners to participate by sharing their memories in the comments section of the page. Just make sure that somebody is keeping a watchful eye on what’s posted. Immediately delete any distasteful comments.

4. Create a Vanity URL that Redirects to Your Content.

A vanity URL is an easy-to-remember URL, such as “yourstationname.com/glennfrey.” Encourage your air talent to give out the URL when they talk about the artist. Create imaging production directing people to the URL. Create additional vanity URLs for common misspellings, such as “yourstationname.com/glennfry.”

5. Send an Email Campaign.

Send an email campaign to your listeners inviting them to click through to your content and share their memories in the comments section.

6. Invite Your Listeners to Contribute Audio.

Your station can invite listeners to share their memories in audio form so that you can use them on the air. Use Speakpipe to allow listeners to leave voicemail messages on your website. If your station’s mobile app was built by jacapps, this is a good time to take advantage of the Open Mic feature, which allows people to contribute audio from their smartphones.

While you may be limited in your on-air response when a major artist dies, you are not limited on the web. Your listeners have strong emotional connections to these musicians. Use your website to help them celebrate the lives of the artists who have left us.

As always, if you need help, please feel free to reach out to me.

Please contact me with questions, comments, and thoughts.

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