In addition to publishing compelling content, a great way to get people to come back to your website over and over is to provide some useful functionality. One way to do this is to add a directory. For example, when I need to find contact information for a person in the radio industry, I often head over to All Access' industry directory.
Recently, we built our own directory here at Jacobs Media. Ours focuses on radio professionals who are available for hire. Anybody can add a profile with their resumé, aircheck, or production demo for free. Potential employers can search for candidates by browsing the profiles in our database.
Radio stations can create similar directories for their audiences. For example, a radio station might want to create a directory of local bands or restaurants or comedians. By encouraging people to submit their own profile listings, you can build up your station's database. For example, if you've captured the contact info of hundreds of local bands because they've submitted themselves to your directory, you now have the ability to target and activate those people as part of a marketing campaign for the local music instrument store. (Please note: I recommend allowing people to list themselves in your directory at no cost; the number of listings in a directory needs to reach critical mass to have value, and charging for listings can undercut that.)
How do you create a directory? If your station has built its site in WordPress, it's possible, though it takes some work. A warning: This is an advanced topic, and I'm going to dive into the weeds here. I'll outline the process in broad strokes and you can decide how to implement it for your own radio station.
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Example: A Local Band Directory
Let's say our station has decided to create a directory of local bands on our website. In WordPress, we'll need to create a “Custom Post Type.” Out of the box, WordPress has two post types: “Posts” and “Pages.” (WordPress uses the word “posts” to refer to any general piece of content, as well as a specific type of content — blogposts. It's a little confusing, like people who use the word “Coke” to mean “soda” but also when they want a Coca-Cola.)
In WordPress, a Post (specific) displays data that Pages don't, such as the name of the author, the date the post is published, and comments. Posts are intended to be used for blogposts or news stories, while Pages are meant to be static, such as “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages.
For our directory, we'll need to create a new type of post (generic). Let's call it a “Band Profile.” This profile will have new Custom Fields associated with it — datapoints that we don't need for our Posts and Pages. For example, we might have Custom Fields for the following:
- Band Name
- Band Bio
- Band Photo
- Singer's Name
- Guitarist's Name
- Bassist's Name
- Drummer's Name
- Band Website URL
In WordPress, we've now created the Custom Post Type of “Band Profile,” and we've created a number of Custom Fields associated with that post type. Are you still with me? Good.
The next thing we need is a Template that controls how we display our Band Profile. For example, our Template could tell WordPress to display the band's name as a bold header, followed by the bio and a right-justified photo. The members' names could appear beneath that as a bulleted list, followed by a big red button that links to the band's site. The Template takes the Custom Fields and arranges them on the page the way that we want.
Once we have our Template, we need one last piece: A Form that allows bands to submit their profiles on the front end of our website. The Form creates a new Band Profile by populating our Custom Fields. We'll set up the Form so that it creates a new Band Profile in “draft” status; then we can manually review each Band Profile before publishing it.
Build Your Own
To review, these are the basic pieces to create a directory: A Custom Post Type (Band Profile), Custom Fields (Band Name, Band Bio, Band Photo, etc.), a Template (to control the look of Band Profiles), and a Form (to allow listeners to submit their own Band Profile). Of course, once you start building, there are more details involved, but this outlines the basic structure.
Once you know these pieces, you can see how it might work for other directories. For example, a directory of Concerts (the Custom Post Type) might have Custom Fields like “Artist,” “Date,” “Venue,” and “Ticket Link.” The Template for Concerts could display them in a grid, and you could create a Form so local promoters can submit their own shows.
There are a number of different ways to set up a directory in WordPress. You could hire somebody to custom code it, or you could use plugins. I built our Talent Directory using the Toolset suite of plugins. But building a directory can be a complicated endeavor, so plan carefully, give yourself plenty of time and build it on a proper staging server so you don't break your station's live site if you mess up. Trust me, I've learned this from experience.
Building a directory on your website can be a challenging but rewarding experience. If done right, it can have a dramatic impact on your station's online engagement.