Monday, 27 September 2010

Chris Moyles Rant

So Chris Moyles (Radio 1 Breakfast DJ) has had a rant about not being paid. An understandable, perfectly justifiable rant. I worked in radio for around 10 years and I can imagine any one of the breakfast show presenters i worked with would have had a similar rant, if the same thing had happened to them. There is something about getting up so early in the morning and talking to yourself for 4 hours, that means a rant is never far away.

While everyone else is in bed and it's still dark, you have to be smart, silly, smiley, personable and funny. While everyone else recovers from a hangover, you have to be sober and sensible and on the top of your game. You're not allowed an off day, the listeners and the bosses don't want a breakfast show presenter who is upset, tired or angry.

The breakfast show carries the rest of the radio station. Breakfast has the largest potential audience. A good RAJAR at breakfast can have a positive impact across the rest of the day. The main breakfast presenter carries the show, and can often feel like they're carrying the whole station.

Any number of things risk a rant from the breakfast show host:
  • Arriving at 5am to find someone has eaten your breakfast, which you left in the office the previous day. There are no shops open, you're hungry, how are you going to "perform" without your bowl of cornflakes? Or as Chris Moyles experienced, there is no milk.
  • Discovering that while you were at home yesterday afternoon someone has: rearranged the furniture, broken your chair, borrowed your headphones, changed the order of the bed box on BCX, reconfigured the studio desk (delete as applicable).
  • Being told to play the same highly restricted playlist day after day, trying to ignore the texts of complaint, and the 10 great songs in the chart you're not allowed to play because they're too urban. Or my favourite: you can't play that great song, because it's too new and the listeners won't know it, well how do you expect them to get to know it if I don't play it?
  • Having to cover on air while you're let down by defective equipment, which hasn't been fixed or replaced despite you complaining last week.
  • Presenting a competition that sucks with a rubbish prize, because sponsorship and promotions sold it to the client and you weren't consulted.
  • Coming off air at 10am and realising that nobody in the office has listened to the show. Not the boss, not the sales team, not the mid-morning presenter on after you.
Now, all of these things may seem quite minor in the grand scheme of things but combine with a lack of sleep, an immense amount of pressure and no cornflakes... and you've got a rant on your hands.

So, I understand why Chris Moyles would get upset by something as significant as not being paid. As I said, it's understandable. What I don't understand, what I find surprising and disappointing, what the DJs I worked with would never have done, is to have that rant on air.  Why did he do it? And why he was allowed to?

Want to read more?  Try today's Media Guardian question of the week: What should be done with Chris Moyles?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Dynamic Content for a Digital Age Event

If you're a speaker at an event is it arrogant to proclaim it a success? I gave a presentation at a successful event in Glasgow today. Yes, it does seem like I'm blowing my own trumpet a bit. Besides I can't really judge whether it was successful, I enjoyed myself, but what does that matter!

The event, organised by the Press Association, was called Dynamic Content for a Digital Age and was held in a wet and grey Glasgow. Did you know the good folk of Glasgow have a word for the rubbish weather we experienced: dreich. Imagine that, suffering rain, cold and grey so often you require a specific word to describe it. I feel I need to add here, aside from the weather Glasgow is great city. I have two aunts and a cousin who live there and love it; incidentally none of them were in town when I visited, are they trying to tell me something?

My presentation looked at online content, specifically the benefits of dynamic, compelling content. While there are many benefits, I chose to focus on three in particular: search engine optimisation (SEO), thought leadership and social media.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

It's difficult when talking about SEO to know where to pitch it, particularly when talking to a really diverse audience, like the one I was addressing. I gave a very quick overview explaining as best I could about a search engine algorithm and why search engines are so important.  In a nutshell, up to 90% of visitors to your website will have come through a search engine, and Google dominates UK search with anywhere between 77-87% of the market.  There are numerous different factors that will influence your position on the search engine results page (SERPs), and one of those factors is content.

To quote from Google's own search engine optimisation guide: "Create fresh, unique content - New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.  Offer exclusive content or services - Consider creating a new, useful service that no other site offers. You could also write an original piece of research, break an exciting news story, or leverage your unique user base.”

Thought leadership

My second benefit: thought leadership, is a buzz word I've written about before, read my post on the what, why and how of thought leadership. It's about being seen as the expert in your field, building your brand and building trust and loyalty. Nothing says: I'm an expert and I know what is going on my industry like regularly updated compelling content.

Social media

Ultimately social media is about content, maybe it's just 140 characters worth of content, but it's content all the same. If you regularly update your website with great content, the social media bit will come easily, because you'll have something to say.

Finally we looked at all the different types of content options available:
  • Blogs
  • Press releases
  • Interviews
  • Detailed research
  • Product reviews
  • Useful data/stats
  • Images
  • News
  • Case studies
  • Video
  • How-to guides
  • Top ten lists
  • Forums/User generated content
  • Twitter
And I gave some inspiring or frightening (depending on how you look at it) stats from Google.  They have more than 150 corporate blogs with 10 million readers, and over 80 Google Twitter accounts with 2.3 million followers.

Questions from the audience revolved around where to place content on websites, and the ubiqitous: how do you measure the ROI of social media.  Ah, the elephant in the room whenever anyone talks about social media.  I'll need to write about this specifically in more detail, but right now it's time for bed.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

I think I'm going to like working with you...

I met with a prospective client today to talk website content and it was one of those great meetings where you think: "yeah I like you guys!"  Actually, I am lucky enough to like an awful lot of our clients, but here's what this particular prospective client said that I particularly liked in particular:

We want to take social media and search engine optimisation (SEO) seriously, but in a measured way.

You'd be amazed how many people/companies don't want to participate in SEO or social media. They know they ought to, they might even feel they have to, but they often don't want to. And what I find even more surprising, is how few care about measuring the success of their forays into SEO and social media.

We are looking to acquire new customers, engage with the customers we've got and improve retention rates.

Excellent. Now I know what the vision is... I like a vision. A vision is important. It's the old adage: if you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you've got there?  It's really useful to know overall what a client wants to achieve. It means we can clearly explain how what we do will fit in with that, it allows us to work with them to achieve their goal and helps us to manage their expectations.

We are driven by analytics, where we can demonstrate success we'll invest further.

Absolutely.  Have some clear objectives in mind, start small, and when you demonstrate the success, look to increase what you're doing.  There are a surprisingly large number of big companies who don't measure their analytics.  Excuses range from:
  • We can't measure our analytics because our website is being host in France/Africa/India (delete as applicable).
  • Our agency doesn't share the figures with us.
  • We've got some figures but we don't really understand them.
Seriously, Government departments, large banks, charities and associations - all not measuring their website analytics.  Don't they want to know where their customers are coming from and how they behave on their website?