When I was the Program Director of WBRU in Providence, we often talked about “Mr. BRU,” a fictional character that represented our audience. Mr. BRU was 25 years old, single, lived in the Providence suburbs, and liked to drink beer and go to Newport in the summer. Mr. BRU helped the programming staff at the radio station think of the audience in concrete terms. Before putting a promotion on the air or creating a morning show bit, we would ask oursleves, “What would Mr. BRU think of this?”
Mr. BRU is the result of an exercise that is common not just in broadcasting, but in marketing circles as well. Mr. BRU is a persona — a personification that helps people get a handle on their audience. Gathering the staff together to create personas — it's useful to create a few — that represent your audience helps to ensure that everybody is on the same page when it comes to creating content compelling content.
The technique is useful not only for a radio station's on-air programming, but also for a station's blog or podcast. If you haven't gone through this exercise with your team before (or in a long time), the launch of a station blog or podcast is a great opportunity to do so.
In all likelihood, the personas you create for your radio station's on-air programming are will be identical to those that you create for your radio station's blog. However, because podcasts typically focus on a narrower niche that the radio station as a whole, they may require fewer, more specific personas. One Mr. BRU may drink Budweiser while a second Mr. BRU may be a beer snob; only the latter will listen to the radio station's craft beer podcast.
Once you've gathered the appropriate members of your team together, give your first persona a name and brainstorm their characteristics, including:
- Where they live
- Marital status
- Number of children
- Type of job
- Income level
- Education level
- Annual income
- Musical tastes
- Allegiance to sports teams
- Political leanings
- Other interests
Create as many personas as you need to adequately represent a wide swath of your audience (4 to 6 for your on-air programming or blog, perhaps fewer for a podcast). When you're done, you may even want to find a place to post bios for these personas for everybody in the station to see.
Personas can help your radio station's staff members focus on creating the most compelling content for the audience, whether on the air, on the blog, or in podcasts. Carve out some time to help them envision the audience together.
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