When I talk to radio stations about their overall digital strategy, I use the framework of Content Marketing. Content Marketing begins, of course, with content. While videos and podcasts are wonderful forms of content for radio stations to produce, for most stations who are strapped for time and resources, launching a radio station blog is usually the easiest and most effective way to grow your website traffic.
Of course, somebody needs to write these blogposts, and most stations don't have a cadre of journalists on staff, which means blogging duties are going to be doled out to folks — usually DJs — who already have a lot on their plate. In my experience, there are two types of on-air talent: those who are hungry to be multimedia personalities and are willing to write, create videos, host podcasts, and put their creative talents to any use they can in their efforts to become a star; and those who got into radio because they prefer talking to writing. For this latter group, blogging can seem like an unbearable chore, and it can be difficult to get them to produce the content your station needs to grow its web traffic.
I sympathize with this latter group. I made several attempts at launching a blog over the past fifteen years, and none of them stuck until I stared writing about digital strategies for radio stations. Just as it takes a while — often years — for a DJ to find their voice on the microphone, it can take a long time for a DJ to find their voice as a blogger. In fact, their on-air voice and their written voice may be very different. They certainly are for me. When I'm on the radio, I deadpan short, snarky breaks laced with pop culture references; when I write, I strive to be instructional and helpful.
Nonetheless, we now live in a multimedia age, and our most successful on-air talents are the ones who find ways to be kings and queens of all media. You don't need to look any farther than iHeart Radio's Bobby Bones, who just published a book and has made a slew of television appearances, including an upcoming stint on Dancing With the Stars.
But you've got to crawl before you dance, so let's start with blogging. Every week, I have to write a blogpost, and the process inevitably consists of three hours of me banging my head against the wall, screaming, “What am I going to write about?!” Then, an idea pops into my head, and I sit down and knock out a blogpost in 20 minutes. The 20 minutes is not difficult. The three hours are excruciating. The worst part of blogging for me — and I suspect many others — is thinking of something to say.
So here are five ways that you can help your airstaff overcome writer's block:
1. Brainstorm a list of blog topic formulas.
Blog topics formulas are simple turnkey topic ideas that can be used over and over again but produce a different blogpost each time. An easy example is, “5 Things to Do Around Town This Weekend.” You could use this formula 52 times a year and each time you would produce a compelling piece of content for your listeners.
Gather all of your blog contributors in a room and brainstorm a list of blog topic formulas. Here are some ideas to help you start. When you're done compiling this list, publish it in a place where all of your writers can access it.
2. Let DJs write about the things they are passionate about.
Let's face it, it's a lot easier to write about things that you care about it. Find out what your on-air personalities are passionate about and allow them to blog about those topics. They often enjoy this outlet because these are topics that may be of interest to the audience, but don't warrant a lot of on-air time. For example, you might have a morning show host who is really passionate about wrestling, or an afternoon jock who loves sharing recipes for healthy meals. If these topics fit with your station brand but are second or third tier subjects, let the jocks blog about them.
3. Crowdsource blogposts.
You may require your on-air talent to produce blogposts, but that doesn't mean they actually have to do the writing. Allow your jocks to invite influencers in your market, such as local bands, chefs, or athletes, to contribute to the blog. This can be through written interviews, guest posts (see these examples), or by having multiple people contribute different answers to a question (here's an example).
4. Share the website analytics with blog authors.
Employees like to see how their contributions are impacting the overall success of their organization. That's why, when I was a program director, I believed in sharing the ratings with my airstaff. In fact, I always appreciated the jocks who came into my office to learn more about the ratings.
The same holds true for website analytics. Share them with your blog contributors. In particular, show them which blogposts are attracting the most website traffic. This information can be found in your website's Google Analytics data. (Here's a guide to Google Analytics for Radio Programmers.) The more they see that their efforts are having an impact, the more enthusiastic they'll be about contributing. Moreover, when they see which blog topics are reacting with the audience — and which are not — it will give them guidance on selecting future topics.
5. Set the bar low and raise it slowly.
The fastest way to discourage reluctant writers is to set unrealistically aggressive goals. It takes time for on-air talent to make the transition to blogging, and they may not all adopt the practice at the same speed. Requiring your air talent to start writing daily blogposts tomorrow is only going to frustrate you and them. Instead, set a modest goal: one blogpost each week. When they're able to hit that goal on a regular basis, gradually raise the bar: two blogposts per week, then two good blogposts per week, then three per week, etc. Most of all, be patient and supportive. This isn't easy, and you won't see success overnight.
Reducing writers block is one of the most important steps to take when launching or ramping up your radio station's blog output. For more information on how your radio station can launch a blog, check out this guide.
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