We are clearly living though an unprecedented event in the history of our country and our medium. However, one thing that has not changed is that the strength of radio lies in using our resources to help the communities we support. With that in mind, here are 10 ways that stations can step up to try and help listeners at a time when they need it most.
1. Organize Local Kindness
This story from Canada about Caremongering is an opportunity for stations to make a real difference. The article centers around Facebook groups people are joining that have two types of posts: #ISO (in search of) that come from people in need and #offer that come from people who are volunteering their help. Whether on the air with talent or online with our digital communities, the concept of matching people who are in need with others who can provide it falls right into radio’s sweet spot.
2. Thank First Responders (and other heroes)
There are a lot of people working hard and taking risks to enable the rest of us to weather the storm. This includes: medical personnel on the front lines at hospitals; grocery store workers braving disease to stock shelves; and delivery drivers and postal workers who are still bringing necessities to our houses. Finding a way to say thank you is another thing radio stations do well. Send food or coffee to overworked health care professionals. Play requests for delivery drivers who are still in their cars with the radio on. Have listeners nominate people they see going above and beyond for your station to honor.
3. Run PSAs – good ones
There was a story in the trades last week about the iHeartMedia cluster in Cleveland making a commitment to run 10,000 PSAs for local organizations that need help due to what’s going on. With advertising levels being low and inventories running high, use some of that airtime to support local groups that are struggling due to these unique circumstances.
4. Online Food Drive
One thing listeners who are quarantined at home can definitely do is online shop. With local food banks (and pet shelters) struggling to feed people (and animals) due to decreased donations, create and promote an easy-to-order Amazon “Wish List” of staple foods that get delivered to the area food pantry. This effort could also be coordinated with a local grocery chain to create one large order delivered locally. This video features the head of cause marketing at Kellogg’s talking about a similar national initiative the company participated in.
5. Encourage Blood Donors
Several articles lately have indicated that – not surprisingly – blood donations are down and the Red Cross needs help. Create an incentive like a station T-shirt for everyone who takes a selfie of themselves giving blood and sends it to the station.
6. Station Merchandise Sales
Speaking of station merchandise, create a special line of COVID-19 related station merchandise to sell and donate the proceeds to organizations that need help. The team at KSLX is doing this with a limited-edition morning show T-shirt and using the proceeds to help people in their community. (Thanks to David Moore and Hubbard/Phoenix).
7. Support Your Concert Venues
When things return to a semblance of normal, fans will want to start going to shows but what if there aren’t any concert venues left? Consider working with label and management partners to collect band merchandise that can be sold as a fundraiser for a local venue. Perhaps artists who played at that venue before moving up to bigger crowds would be willing to help out.
8. Create a Local Marketplace
Whether it’s bands, chefs, trainers or other gig economy workers, these are quickly becoming tough times. Create an online marketplace where people can make some money selling goods and services. Local bands can sell their merch, chefs can sell quarantine recipes, trainers can offer virtual sessions for listeners stuck at home. Talk to these people on the air and promote small acts of commerce that could help keep them afloat in the short run.
9. Celebrate a Birthday
The Happy Birthday song isn’t just for handwashing it’s actually for celebrations. Unfortunately, a lot of parents are now stuck at home with restless children who aren’t getting to have their usual birthday celebration, which is a big deal when you’re eight. Create a feature where listeners can share information about birthdays and other milestones then find a way to help celebrate. Partner with an out of work chef to send special cakes. Read happy birthday mentions on air. Send a special video greeting from the airstaff.
10. Adopt a Pet
Many humane societies are offering fee-free adoptions during the crisis. What better way for lonely people stuck at home to feel better. Consider working with local shelters to help spread information about how to adopt a new friend during these trying times.
When you have time after establishing a new normal for your broadcast and business systems, consider brainstorming ways the station can participate in helping and healing your communities. And when you do, let us know. We’d be happy to help, as well as getting out the word to other markets (with your permission, of course).