Tell Me a Story
By: Daniel Anstandig
Music legend Ray Charles once said that he “was born with music inside” himself. It could be said that the best loved songs in history are the ones that resonate and harmonize with the music inside of us.
Country music is best known for producing these songs that reach into the souls of their listeners. The stories told by many Country songs can make your heart race, put a lump in your throat, and send tears down your face. They’re the songs and stories that have turned country radio stations into empires.
The world’s most powerful and best loved radio stations aren’t without persuasive stories themselves. Case in point: KLBJ in Austin… not just another radio station. It’s the radio station that was rescued from bankruptcy in 1942 by young entrepreneur, Lady Bird Johnson. KLBJ does a terrific job of summarizing their rich history at www.590klbj.com/History. WMMS is known in Cleveland (and beyond) as a way of life for Clevelanders more than a music service. Its logo (the Buzzard) and the many bands it made famous have kept it alive in Cleveland pop culture for years. WSM in Nashville catapulted its way into music history with the Grand Ol’ Opry.
A radio station’s story isn’t just about how it started or its history. Its story is about what makes it different from any other station.
What’s the unique vision? Why should listeners care? How do people identify or resonate with you?
When I sit down with a new client, whether it’s a radio station, magazine, or interactive company, the first thing I want to know is their story. What song plays in “the soul” of that company? What are they all about?
Often, the stories I hear are rich and remarkable. Radio is a business born out of passion, and many stations have histories that run miles deeper than “bought by this company, sold to this company.” But in the last few years, many of us have forgotten the stories that brought us (and our radio stations) to the dance.
Most people don’t know the story or vision behind their own radio station—not just how the radio station was founded, but the contemporary vision for the radio station. Who does the station serve, and why? What does this radio station do that no one else does in the community? What problem do you solve?
At Disney, every employee (executives and park employees alike) must attend a “Traditions” class as part of Disney University before they work at Disney. As part of the traditions class, they learn about the history of the organization and its heritage, values, and vision. A new language is established… “guest” not “customer”… “Cast Member” not “employee”… “on stage” not “inside the park.” The story of Disney’s founding by Walt Disney and his business partner Mickey Mouse is learned. Employees become passionate believers in the Disney brand and its story, and it becomes harder to view the organization as impersonal and “corporate.”
Imagine your staff getting more excited about the “traditions” of your company, learning about the company’s vision and its promise to the people it serves.
This month, challenge yourself to shape your company’s story. Remember…
Gripping stories leave something to the imagination of the audience. Don’t write a linear and detailed story about your company’s past or your company’s vision. Instead, talk about the inspiration behind the organization.
The best stories are not “logical.” They are “emotional” and expressive.
Great stories resonate with what the audience already believes. The people listening to the story are reminded of how smart and right they really are when your story affirms their beliefs.
Then, share the story creatively.
Consider a staff seminar where you share the story and vision of the radio station.
Many radio stations use video gateways or “pre-roll” video ads before their audio stream plays. Consider using unsold inventory to run creative video promos that tell your story. Find creative ways to have your station’s listeners also tell their stories about the station.
Take a cue from Kleenex’s www.letitout.com. They ask their consumers to tell stories about how Kleenex has been a part of their lives. People share their stories about the snot, fears, tears, love, anger, and joy they’ve vented with the help of Kleenex tissues. They bring the Kleenex brand to life through stories of human experience. The product is suddenly so much more powerful than mere tissue paper. It’s a friend at a time of need.
Tell a story about your station or brand that resonates with your audience, and you’ll shatter the limitations of being “just another AM or FM station.” Your brand will become a living friend to the people it serves.
Daniel Anstandig is President/McVay New Media Consulting. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.