Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Catch Up (The Role of The Program Director)

Reevaluating the Role of the Program Director

The job of a Program Director has changed. Now, to be successful as a programmer, there is much more to do than manage a music/talent schedule, write imaging, and schedule promotions. For many, the role of Program Director has evolved into a multi-media brand manager—a position responsible for overseeing all manifestations of a brand, far beyond that of an AM or FM audio channel. It has also evolved into a more entrepreneurial position, where programmers are forced to be creative about “running the station’s content business” with few people and little resources.

The role of a Program Director is more dynamic (and fun) than ever. It requires outstanding multitasking skills and the ability to inspire a team. In fact, even the title “Program Director” is likely outdated. Now, “Brand Manager” or “Content Manager” might be more fitting.

This week, we’ll look at the role of Brand Manager and offer some ideas on how you can refresh your perspective of how this role influences the business of a radio station. Here are ten basic areas for today’s Brand Manager to consider.

1. Asset Management. Do you have a thorough understanding of your company’s assets—and what you are actually supervising? You’re not just overseeing an AM/FM signal anymore. What else do you have at your disposal? Get clear on what you are overseeing—and where you are responsible for generating results.

a. Station Website
b. Other Local Company Websites
c. Internet-Radio / Streaming Audio
d. Station Database
e. Facebook
f. Twitter Feeds (your station’s and your on-air talents’)
g. Online Video

2. Quality Control. You are the quality-control leader for all of these company assets. Are you monitoring what is happening outside of your on-air programming? Have you listened to your stream today? Have you looked at the station’s Facebook page? Is anyone from your station monitoring what feedback comes from your audience on Twitter?

3. Digital Media. Acquire an understanding of digital media. How does your audience use it? You don’t need to become a techy—but you need to be in touch with how technology is used by your audience. A basic understanding of technology can empower a more dynamic vision for how the brand can move-and-grow in the digital space.

4. Measurement. How is your success measured? If it’s ratings, how will you use all of the station’s assets to drive people to your on-air programming? If it’s more than ratings, how will you incentivize and energize your team (however large or small) to participate in creating content? Learn about measurement. How do the Arbitron Diary and PPM study methodologies work—and what can you learn from them? How is your website traffic measured? What are the key indicators you can look for in your ratings and web performance to know whether you are growing or not? How can these numbers tell you a story—and help you to tell a story about how your audience uses the brand?

5. Competition. Map your competition. When is the last time you listened to them? When is the last time you went to their website(s)? You know that other radio stations are NOT the only competition for your audience’s time. While it may not be possible to even enumerate all of the new internet-radio, streaming, satellite, and digital options available to them—can you understand why your audience exits your brand? What is your competition doing to impact your station/audience? How do they think? Get inside their heads.

6. Marketing. Assume you have no budget. How are you going to grow your cume and add new people to the audience. This position holds the overall responsibility for the planning and execution of external marketing and promotion. That doesn’t just mean buying TV spots (if you are one of the stations lucky enough to have a budget for it). This means designing the image, look/feel, and unique selling proposition of your brand. What makes you unique, and why should people 1) listen to you 2) interact with you? Once you can answer those questions, the rest is easy.

7. Team Leadership. Does your team know what success looks like for your company? Do they understand where they need to “move the needle?” What does the future of your team look like? What skills should they be developing to stay relevant to your strategy? How can you help them grow? Also, remember that a positive attitude as a leader is essential to your team’s success. Encourage and empower.

8. Social Media. Pursue real connectedness with your target audience. Now, with social media, it’s easier than ever to find a real understanding of your audience and their habits. When is the last time you really profiled your target and “got into their heads?” How are you using social media to keep in touch with your audience and create more tune-in for your station?

9. Vision. Create a vision for how your product is used (and can be used) by the audience, as well as how sponsors and promotional partners can use the product. Tell a story about how your brand solves a problem for its audience/customers. This will help your sales department to wrap their arms around new sales opportunities—and it will help your programming team to understand your target.

10. Pursuing Excellence. Don’t wake up tomorrow and realize that the industry (or your audience) has passed you by. Take the opportunity to be proactive now and stay paced with your audience’s media habits. Restructuring your position is not an option; it is a necessary access-ramp to a successful future. What are you doing to improve yourself and your ability to manage the company on an ongoing basis? Are you evaluating your own progress and updating your skill set?

Confusion, pessimism and a feeling of being overwhelmed only suck  your energy and attention away, so that you can’t possibly see the forest for the trees.

Have fun. Put this saying on a note card, and look at it every day: “I have no value in confusion.” There is no sense sitting confused or pessimistic about the future. Get creative, smile, and have fun. You are in the midst of our industry’s reinvention. Why not enjoy it and become a leader in the transformation? This is going to be fun. 

About the Writer

DisplayFuture-minded and passionate, Daniel Anstandig’s experience includes developing digital business strategies for media companies, designing content strategies for broadcast and interactive, and coaching executives.

As the President of McVay New Media Consulting, Anstandig has advised The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Clear Channel R&D, The White House Commission on Remembrance, Glencoe-McGraw Hill, and various broadcasting companies in the USA, Canada, and Europe.

In 2009, Anstandig founded Listener Driven Radio, a software company that develops interactive programming tools for broadcasters. The company’s premiere “crowdcasting” product, which integrates real-time audience voting into a radio station’s live playlist, has already been utilized by Citadel Broadcasting, CBS, Virgin Radio in Europe, Harvard Broadcasting, and several other major broadcasters around the world.

Prior to joining McVay Media in 2001, Daniel’s experience includes stints as General Manager, Network/Syndicated Program Director, and On-Air Personality. In 2001, he was named the #1 Young Entrepreneur by Young Entrepreneur Magazine, in recognition of an internet-radio company he founded. Daniel is also a proud two-time recipient of Edison Media Research’s 30 Under 30 Award.

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