Do The Right Thing

Greg Diamond – ByrnesMedia

Why would a station look at helping out in the community and performing charitable initiatives? It might sound like an easy question to answer, but not everyone sees such things as a priority.

The obvious (to me, anyway) reply is “of course you should be doing them.” The reasons are many, but I suppose we should start with the most important one – it’s simply the right thing to do and one that, as a broadcaster and a business, we have a responsibility to do.

Now, beyond that, here are some reasons why looking after your community pays dividends in both the short and long terms.

It’s been said many times, but bears repeating once again – radio is local. It’s our ability to communicate with the listener in the immediacy that sets us apart from all other media. It’s our capacity to carry on a narrative, and taken further, a dialogue with the local listener that is our greatest strength and continues to validate us as a medium. As such, does it not make sense to further embed the station in the community through acts of generosity, caring, and involvement?

To put it in more concrete terms, how much of your revenue is generated locally? Do you not feel that showing social consciousness will make an impression on those people that are responsible for keeping your own business solvent?

I’ve heard it said that some stations simply refuse to put something on the air that doesn’t have a revenue-generating component attached to it. Fair enough. Again, we do need to keep the lights on if we’re to remain a vibrant, worthwhile part of the community. It’s been my experience many such endeavors, and in particular charitable initiatives, come through sales. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but often the venture is geared too far in favour of client exposure at the expense of the fundraising opportunity and as such, fails to be a win-win-win for client, station, and charity. You are usually better off designing the undertaking at your end and then sending it to sales to attach sponsor(s) afterwards. Doing the right thing also means that everyone benefits.

There’s another argument that goes, “well, the other guys are already known for doing those things.” That’s a defeatist approach and in my opinion is not only underestimating your station’s potential, but just making a shallow excuse. Who cares if another station does a great deal in the community? That’s all the more reason to get out there and start doing so yourself. I’ve never seen a station dominate a market by waving a white flag.

Clutter can be a problem. Sometimes our promotional activity gets to the point where it’s hard to see how even one more project can be accommodated. I suggest that the result of promoting something worthwhile for your listeners will do nothing but raise your local awareness, hence ratings, hence revenue. In short, “wearing the white hat” pays off.

Finally, think of community initiatives as opportunities and not as burdens. It’s true that they can put short term pressure on smaller staffs, but with sufficient planning and with the aid of other interested parties they need not be nearly as taxing as you may think. A food drive, for example, doesn’t really need much more from the station than the on-air component in the lead up and execution. You’ll find Food Bank personnel are more than happy to pitch in and do most of the grunt work for you. So how might you get started down this path of doing the right thing? Gather your staff together and make a list of all the community organizations that have a presence in your broadcast area that might benefit from forming an alliance with a media partner such as your radio station. Turn the right thing into a win-win-win for everyone.