With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to impact daily life across the U.S., radio stations have been forced to make a lot of adjustments. Some of those adjustments are in direct response to the current situation, but others are tasks that have relegated the back burner only to now become a top priority. Among that latter group is succession planning: ensuring that there's a smooth transition if a key employee departs. With the risk that employees could get sick and be out of commission for an extended period of time, radio stations should make sure that they have a plan in place to pick up the slack.
In particular, it's important to have a contingency plan to ensure that your station's digital presence is maintained if key members of your staff are unable to execute their normal duties. Here are some tips to help you plan for this possibility:
1. Identify the key digital tasks.
Start by listing the digital tasks that your station cannot go without for a long period of time. This includes not only the actions that have to be performed week in and week out, but also anything that requires no action unless something goes wrong. These include:
- Executing digital campaigns for clients, such as online ads
- Maintaining the station's stream
- Sending email campaigns
- Hosting online contests
- Updating key pages of the website
- Posting to the station's social media accounts
2. Train staff members to take over those tasks if necessary.
Once you've identified each of these tasks, decide who will take them over if the person with that responsibility now should get sick. It is a good idea to have the primary employee write step-by-step instructions and store these documents in a place where they can be easily accessed by others.
3. Make sure that you have access to all the necessary accounts.
You don't want to have an employee become unavailable, only to discover that they are the only person who has access to important online accounts. Do you know which software your station uses for its email database, its streaming, or its contesting? Do you know the username and password to log into each of these accounts? Here's a list of every type of digital account you'll need access to.
4. Back up your data.
More than ever, it's important to make sure that you have backup copies of all of your station's data, including any files sitting on the hard drive of key digital staffers. Generally speaking, you want two types of backups: one backup in the “cloud” which is accessible from locations other than your station (in case the building burns down), and one backup in the building in case your station temporarily loses its internet connection and can't access the cloud. With many employees working from home, the primary focus should be on the cloud backup right now. There are a number of business tools designed for this task, such as Box.com or Dropbox for Business. Make sure that you're not only backing up your data, but that multiple people in the building know how to access those backups if the need arises.
5. Give your succession plan a trial run.
Don't wait until somebody actually gets sick to test your station's succession plan. Give it a test run while the primary digital staffers are still in a position to answer any questions that come up. This will make things run much smoother if you're forced to use the plan later on.
It's impossible to know what the future holds for your radio station during this uncertain time, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to plan. Taking the time now to develop a succession plan can save you a lot of headaches down the road.