Digital Growth for Radio - Key Takeaways from On-Air to Line, SoCast’s 2017 Radio Show Panel Discussion

Posted by Symon Edmonds

Sep 20, 2017 1:00:55 PM

The 2017 Radio Show was another great conference with lots of insightful learnings for radio, especially in digital. This year, SoCast was fortunate enough to once again host a panel discussion - On-Air to Online: A Checklist to Accelerate Your Digital Growth. 2017 rab panelists resized-1.jpg

The panel involved a lot of great conversations regarding how radio stations can grow their presence in digital and how they can empower their people to help in that journey. This year, we were joined by:

  • Vince Benedetto, Founder, President and CEO, Bold Gold Media Group
  • Amy Stroud, Executive Vice President, Forcht Broadcasting
  • Todd Stapleton, General Manager, The Cromwell Group


Please see the full video of our panel discussion below:



In case you don't have time to watch the full video, we’ve distilled our panel session into a few key insights for you to read in this blog post.

Lead by example and create the right environment for digital growth at your stations

For digital to work, your company’s leadership and management needs to be passionate about it. It cannot be treated as an afterthought or as an additive activity.

“Oftentimes it [digital] is relegated to a ‘digital person’ or a marketing person or a promotions person to kind of roll out these platforms and it’s not necessarily embraced philosophically or culturally at the owner or management level.” - Vince Benedetto

Vince called this problem of how digital is managed in many radio companies. Management needs to lead by example by championing digital themselves, knowing how the platforms work and collaborating with and empowering their people to drive digital growth.

Vince also talked about the importance about hiring the right people to help drive digital growth. Attitude is his most important criteria. Radio is not a complicated industry. New hires can learn it as they go along. However, enthusiasm is something that you cannot teach. You need people who are self-motivated and who will proactively take advantage of opportunities to grow digital.

Another point is that digital should be decentralized. Allow your DJs to do their own thing on their stations and do the posting to station social media profiles. With digital, set the goals, establish the philosophy and empower your people to achieve your goals. Don’t be too prescriptive about it.

Give your people the tools that they need and help them become better at selling digital

On our panel, Amy Stroud talked about the importance of getting buy-in from your sales teams in terms of selling digital

“It’s hard to sell something that you don’t believe in and that you’re not passionate about. If you can convince them why it’s important that we bring our clients online with us, then they can believe it, they can see it and it makes it easier for them to sell.” - Amy Stroud

She also noted that sometimes people who have been in the business a long time and who are more set in their ways may have a harder time selling digital. She suggests to go on sales calls with veterans and help them sell digital to existing clients to get used to the process.

At the same time, it is important not to force the issue too much, as Todd Stapleton noted. Certain salespeople will be better at selling digital than others. Allow your salespeople to focus on their strengths and perhaps even assign all digital sales to your more tech-savvy salespeople.

It is also important to identify if your clients are open to purchasing digital ads. Some clients may be more open to it than others. Knowing this will also make the process easier.

Give your people the right tools that they need to sell digital. Todd Statpleton equips his sales team with a digital rate card to sell digital inventory. He also gives them a digital one sheet with key metrics for the Vandalia Radio website, which allows advertising partners to know exactly how many people will see each ad unit that they purchase.

Check out our interview with Todd Stapleton, where he explains how he empowered his salespeople to multiply digital revenue 8x at Vandalia Radio.

Post great content on a consistent and timely basis

Todd Stapleton, general manager at The Cromwell Group, is a big part of his local community in Vandalia, Illinois. He serves as the President of the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce as well as on the local high school’s sports hall of fame committee.

If you want to drive great web engagement like Todd does (his radio station does over 100,000 page views per month, despite the town’s population only being 7,000), you need to be a big part of your local community.

Now, we’re not expecting all of you to go out and become superstars in your local community like Todd, but there are things that you can do to become a more integrated part of your listeners’ lives.

It needs to be instinctual that you are going to cover all the news in your local community. Get news people who are passionate about it and who will get the information out there quickly.

“That’s the biggest thing we do. We get the information out as quick as we can online.” - Todd Stapleton

Vince added to Todd’s comments in that timing is very important. He suggests to post relevant content just before or as your personalities are going into a segment. For instance, if you are about to play a song by Sting, have your DJs post an article about Sting to your Facebook page and ask the audience to comment on it. Tying on-air content to your Facebook activity will help increase digital engagement.

Amy then quipped in with how important it is to be consistent with your efforts and to know your audience. It takes time to build a social media presence and to monetize it. However, once it’s built, it pays continuous benefits to your radio station.

Different markets will also have different behaviours. For example, some markets may be more Twitter-friendly than others. Figure out what works for your stations by testing different initiatives and double down on those that work.

The prevailing sentiment from our session was that growing digital requires a concerted effort across your organization. Leading by example, giving your people the tools that they need and empowering them to drive digital results is the best way to achieve this growth.

Need help growing digital for your radio stations? SoCast provides the integrated platform you need to reach your audience in all digital channels, increase publishing volumes and monetize your digital assets. Speak with a SoCast Specialist to learn how you can take your digital presence to the next level.



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