Tag Archives: radio

Talking About LBC, Opinion and Content Experimentation

I’m pleased to say this year we’ve been invited by those wonderful folk at Newsrewired to talk about audio ‘shareability’. I always love attending this event, it’s a great chance to network and gauge what we’re generally thinking about as Journalists across a whole range of topics.

In the podcast I talk about why opinion is central to LBC and how we format choice moments to give them their best viral potential.

I look forward to seeing everyone in July.

The Capital Jingle Bell Ball 2016 Content Strategy. Includes Kittens.

Capital Jingle Bell Ball 2016 Kittens

Every year we host Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball at London’s O2 – a fantastic weekend of music where fans can celebrate the best artists and tracks of the year in an amazing venue. Covering an event like this is a true privilege as it’s a great chance to meet fans, find out what they’re listening to and learn about what’s important to them.

What’s also important is that we took the decision years ago to make the Jingle Bell Ball a true digital experience. That means, that wherever you are in the UK, if not the world, you’ll be able to experience the event as if you were at the O2 itself.

That doesn’t mean ‘just’ filming the artists on stage and conducting behind the scenes interviews* – it means thinking very carefully about what platforms our digital audience are currently on and delivering formats that excite, engage and get them coming back for more.

And that means cats. Lots of them.

Here’s a short overview of what you can expect from our digital coverage in the next 48 hours:

  • Radio coverage (naturally) across FM and digital
  • Capital TV dedicated coverage
  • Highlights of the best on stage performances and back stage interviews (video on demand)
  • Exclusive Facebook Live interviews with all the artists (and kittens)
  • Live blog coverage – a great single location to see all the action as it happens
  • Snapchat coverage incl. exclusive Snapchat filters
  • Live Instagram Video stories
  • Dedicated content for social media – we believe with a passion that we should be entertaining you in your space, so our social media team will be creating the funniest and informative memes and updates they can.

So what’s the best thing about all this coverage? The fact that it’s all happening live – with all sections of the business (radio, tv, digital, marketing, pr, events, commercial) working together to make sure this is the best experience possible for YOU.

So here goes. Another fantastic Jingle Bell Ball is about to happen. I’ll post some highlights when I can!

*I say ‘just’ but shooting, editing and distributing video is a massive part of our operation. Adding this now before the Head of Video decapitates me.

Managing the digital content strategy for the Jingle Bell Ball 2014

One of the reasons I absolute love working for Global Radio is being involved in the amazing selection of events they put on each year. Whether it’s Capital’s Summertime Ball, Jingle Bell Ball or XFM’s Winter Wonderland – it’s always an exciting time of year as the company rallies round to deliver a brilliant experience for our audience.

As a content person I particularly love these live events because, no matter how much you plan in advance, there are always challenges (and opportunities) that crop up which need to be dealt with in the moment. If you want to get academic, it means providing an editorial structure that is nimble enough to adapt to traffic behaviour, potential technical difficulties, competitors or just amazing stuff that just happens on the day that you couldn’t have prepared for in any planning session. And it rocks.

This year covering Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball has been extra special for us as we’ve recently launched our brand new mobile site only a few weeks ago. As the majority of the Capital audience visit us via mobile, it’s been important to ensure they get the best experience possible and, looking at the positive growth in audience numbers, it’s good to see they agree!

Besides updating platforms, I think the biggest change we made this year to cover the ball was just around workflow. This is the nerdy side of editorial that, I must admit, I’m very interested in. This year we really looked at the time it took to deliver content to our audience from inception (onstage performances or backstage antics) to delivery (video, gallery, article etc) and eliminated any obstacles. That meant creating a workflow that adapted throughout the day and in accordance with the content we wanted to prioritise.

Layer on search and social and that’s an interesting beast to manoeuvre – and only made possible by a brilliant digital content team working within a slick operation that is all working towards a common goal.

Day one is now over and I’m about to head over to the O2 to prepare for the arrival of another fantastic lineup of artists. If you’re with us today in person, or through radio, online or mobile, I hope you have a brilliant day!

Follow Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball live blog here.

Capital FM website.

Content Strategy Links of the Week, November 20

Why social is key to creating habit-forming news products

“According to Nir Eyal, it’s often fear that encourages a person to return to a product again and again. Boredom drives return visits to YouTube, loneliness encourages people to go to Facebook, uncertainty encourages people to search Google, he says.

So for newspapers, news sites and digital products, perhaps the driver is FOMO, a fear of missing out. People return to find out about the key news events that they don’t want to miss.”

Latest from the NPR social media desk

“1. Everyone’s talking about Serial. Seriously. Vox has gone one step further and built an interactive guide to keep track of who’s who in this character-driven crime story. Brilliant? Yes. A step too far? Maybe. But the resulting audio cards are really user friendly and offer sideways entry points into the story, in addition to making it all easier to follow. Now, just think of other ways we could break down a story that might make it easier to for the
audience to enter and understand.”

Why We Crave Human-Curated Playlists

“Context is key for music, and that is where services like Songza and Beats Music are picking up tips from FM radio. These services are essentially using algorithms to help people discover new playlists, instead of discovering new songs. This allows for a marriage of both technology and human curation.”

This woman is Hearst Magazines’ secret digital weapon

“Sharing content is another key part of the strategy. Other publishers aggregate news from elsewhere or open their sites to outside contributors to increase their publishing volume quickly and at low cost. With all of Hearst’s magazines as well as newspapers to draw from, the publisher has a long way to go before it has to look to outside sources for content. Part of Lewis’ mandate, then, has been getting Hearst to surface stories that can work across brands. Ultimately, the goal is to have 20 percent of a given Hearst site’s content coming from another Hearst property.”

More than 7 in 10 believe radio will not decline, survey finds

“An ageing population and an increasing numbers of retirees could mean increasing popularity. However, the test is to ensure that young people continue to reach out to radio as they grow older.

“To address this challenge, radio must continue to be a place of ‘music discovery’ and must adapt to new ways of enjoying content on the go – and on modern media devices.”

Quartz rethinks the newsroom for the digital age

“We don’t adhere to the preset roles you have in news organizations,” Seward said. “It prevents a myopic view of how stories need to be told. When you have the ability to think about how to tell a story differently, then it leads to more creative ways.”

Why Instagram isn’t (yet) a great platform for news publishers

“So while Instagram currently isn’t the best host for what most publishers are doing right now, as the platform becomes more video focused publishers with expertise in creating narratives in video form will find Instagram’s a more effective way to reach audiences. Until then, though, as Guyatt says, there’s very little purpose to publishing content to a platform on which it does not belong.”

Why podcasts are suddenly “back”

“The money and raw numbers have finally gotten investors to pay attention, and investors have a lot of press influence. But podcasts have never exploded and have never died. The truth is that they’ve grown boringly and steadily for almost a decade, and will likely continue to do so. And that’s great!”

The web is alive and well

“To see the mistake here, just look at the most popular mobile app supposedly leading this turn away from the web: Facebook. A substantial portion of Facebook content offers links to other websites. Tapping them opens a browser within the app, and there you are, on the web. The latest version of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, in fact, brings in-app browsers on par with the company’s own Safari browser in terms of capabilities and performance.”

It’s small touches that can make a difference in New York’s layouts

“Each week, Williams and his designers choose one of the feature articles set to appear in the print magazine, usually the cover story, and brainstorm ways they can add visual design elements that improve the storytelling process. This has become increasingly common at many publications ever since the launch of Snow Fall, the multimedia story project produced by a team of New York Times journalists, designers, videographers, and coders — though when I mentioned Snow Fall, Williams was quick to note that New York’s forays into the medium are much less epic in scale. “It’s possible to build them with each issue and without overwhelming the team,” he said in a phone interview.”

Best content strategy links of the week: September 12, 2014

Greetings interweb people!

Like some beautiful burning phoenix rising from the flames I present to you my often-cited but never seen, content strategy links of the week. I’ve been a little preoccupied by a new job recently but no more excuses – let’s get this off the ground again. So here it is, in all it’s glory, repeated every Friday.

(I mean the blog series, not the actual same content.  That would be ridic.)

Next Radio 2014 Highlights
Obviously, I’m going to mention the UK radio industry event that was held in London on Monday first. I’ve written about it here but it’s worth flagging that the presenter videos from the event are now being posed on Next Radio website. Thanks to James Cridland and Matt Deegan for organising the event.

The container model and blended content – a new approach to how we present content on the Guardian
Interesting overview by Nick Haley on the content strategy decisions behind the new responsive Guardian website. Nice notion around ‘blended content’ and how they are using this new modular approach to inspire serendipity and increase dwell times. As Nick himself writes: Blended containers were a vehicle which exposed content to people they may not ordinarily encounter but is interesting to them. The containers both support existing patterns of behaviour and may spur on new patterns.”

Interestingly, when I visited the site it took me a while to realise I wasn’t actually on the Beta version. But then again, that might be me just being thick.

Vertical campfires: our user research walls
I loved this overview of the UX process at GDS from Kate Townsey. Check out the use case scenarios. Notice these are not fully-fleshed personas which have the tendency to drift off into fantasy – this is just enough detail to help the team focus on the user needs.  And notice it’s on a wall, not hidden away on someone’s laptop.

How we built the the new wired.co.uk homepage
Again another open, honest account of a responsive site launch – and I don’t just like this because of the cool parallax formatting (although the responsive ads absolutely rock). I particularly like the question posed by Pete Miller: “…what is the purpose of a website’s own content discovery experience when there are extremely popular purpose-built cross-site content discovery platforms – search engines, social media, content curation apps such as Zite or Flipboard”.

I don’t pretend to have the answer to this either, but worth pondering.

Does journalism still require impartiality?
Great article by Kellie Riordan on the importance of editorial curation to help users identify the best bits of info each day. This has to be balanced, of course, with the fact that people are now posting clips faster to social media than can be identified, verified and curated by journalists.

What has changed in the digital era is not so much the need for impartiality but the method to achieve it. New media prefer transparency and plurality to achieve impartiality, old media achieve it with objective methods. Let’s acknowledge that both methods can lead to quality journalism, or for that matter, to poor journalism.

But it’s also important to recognise what hasn’t changed. Audiences now have access to more information and a variety of different perspectives to form their own conclusions. Do audiences need a journalist to de-code the news or contextualise the facts anymore? I think they still do. This is what hasn’t changed. “

Does The Internet Still Need Comments? Yes, But A Different Kind
Interesting article on a the recent trend of bloggers and publishers removing comments from their articles. It also highlights how users are simply using the comments section to share the article on their friend’s Facebook pages and not commenting at all. In which case, should we really be calling these comments at all?

Responsive Web Design Podcast
No weekly content strategy roundup would be complete without mentioning Karen McGrane and Ethan Marcotte’s excellent weekly podcast on responsive design. They’ve interviewed some great companies (Capital One, Fidelity, Marriott and The Boston Globe) about their responsive design decisions and it’s compulsive listening. Highly recommended.

And finally, fans of this post will know that I have an eclectic taste in music. I found this the other day and I’m still trying to make sense of it. Good ol’ Brian…

See you next week!

My Highlights from the Next Radio 2014 conference

As always, this year’s Next Radio conference in London featured plenty of great speakers discussing the impact of digital on traditional radio business models and how they’ve used content to re-engage with their audience across multiple platforms.

Global Radio, NPR Radio, BBC, CBC Music – these were just some of the brands that presented, but the most significant was the inclusion of Tom Loosemore from the GDS who discussed how an effective content strategy is not just about delivering a better UX, it’s about changing the organisation. But more on that later.

Kicking off proceedings, James Rea from LBC talked about the impact of going national earlier this year and how they’ve repositioned our journalists across the UK to deliver the biggest breaking news first. Although he spoke about the importance of the presenters who help shape the personality of the brand, he emphasised that the whole radio proposition  starts with the audience. Without callers phoning in and trusting the brand to express their ‘live, immediate, moments of personal relegation’ (to quote James O’Brien) the station wouldn’t have any ‘hit records’. For LBC, the focus on the audience is an absolute prerequisite for a successful talk radio show.

Mike Hill from UK Radio Player argued that the industry will face real problems if it continues to release complicated devices with confusing interfaces. “Radio should be Simple”, he said. Simple tasks like tuning should not be difficult. It’s a problem that has to be nailed soon particularly with the release of new connected in-car audio systems. If we don’t make UX intuitive then we’ll all lose out. Mike also teased a new hybrid digital adaptor that will hit the market soon.

Another highlight included Anya Grundmann from NPR Music who showed how their digital presence now exceeds that of their traditional radio reach. The NPR’s content strategy has already been well documented but I was particularly interested in their Tiny Desk series which demonstrated how a simple live artist performance can be extended across digital.

Here’s a personal favourite of mine featuring John Grant:

Our very own Charles Ubaghs (Head of Social Media, Global) took us through the hugely successful social media strategy on Classic FM.  “Treat Social as a distinct editorial channel” he said and took us through several examples where the brand has bridged the gap between what many people may consider a niche topic, and what people want to read in their social media streams.

Finally, hats off to Tom Loosemore from GDS for his inspiring overview of their content strategy and their objectives. This is someone who certainly doesn’t pull any punches: “We’re not here to create a better user experience, we’re here to change government”. As a content strategist it was fantastic to see Tom’s inclusion as part of this event and I’ll certainly be taking a few tips. If you’ve not read about GDS then you can read more here.

So there you go, just a few highlights from the event. I can’t go without a final thought from radio producer Jonathan Ruffle who told us that the big idea behind his forthcoming radio WW1 documentary Tommies was simply this: “Mankind is a moth to the flame of war”. Wow, wasn’t expecting that at a media event and I think I’ll be mulling that over for the rest of my life.

Thanks to James Cridland and Matt Deegan for putting such a fantastic event together.

See you all next year!

What makes great content? Global Producer’s Day at Global Radio

Last week we held the first of our Global Radio Producer sessions in London, discussing with Global Radio producers from around the UK, not only our digital plans for the year ahead, but also how to produce great content that can be easily shared across multiple platforms.

It was an interesting couple of days as was a great opportunity for the digital teams to hear about the challenges and opportunities the radio teams face on a daily basis and how to make content work in that unique environment.

Here’s some random thoughts from the event and I look forward to the next session early next year.

  • Amazing content doesn’t necessarily mean complex ideas, the ideas themselves can be quite simple. What’s more important is that they are executed brilliantly with an attention to detail that demonstrates you really understand your audience. Sometimes executing brilliantly means stripping away the idea to it’s simplest (and most understood) component.
  • Make it as easy as possible to share these ideas in your organisation. Identify silos and training requirements otherwise you’ll have teams trying to reinvent the wheel every time they sit down to plan the week ahead. Avoid the trappings of email where there is often the illusion of communication and understanding.
  • Radio is an extremely reactive environment buzzing with brilliant ideas so getting the right balance between proactive planning and spontaneity can be tricky.
  • Discussing what makes great ‘content’ is a fruitful conversation to have in any organisation – but let’s talk about content with a small ‘c’ shall we? Take radio as an example, there are very slight but important differences between digital and radio editorial ideas and sometimes we run the risk of obscuring this with conversations around Content. Let’s recognise the differences so we can recognise the best ideas and facilitate them through the best platforms available.

What’s the secret of talk radio?

What’s this? Two blog posts in one day? Well, on Wednesday night I attended the Radio Academy’s excellent event  ‘Who’s On Line 1?‘ at London’s Gibson Rooms and I simply had to tell you about it.

The event featured LBC’s James O’Brien and BBC Three Counties Radio breakfast presenter Iain Lee and offered a great insight into the popular phone-in format. Topics discussed included how they both started out in radio, what makes for a good radio conversation and why this format still works after many years.

Regarding that last point, O’Brien offered a wonderful soundbite describing the phone-in format as “live, immediate moments of personal revelation“. O’Brien argued there’s simply no other medium that can deliver this kind of audience interaction. I have to agree.

Not that it’s an easy thing to achieve. Both presenters agreed that there’s an element of trust you need to establish with the audience before people feel comfortable calling in on live radio to reveal their innermost selves.

“It’s too easy these days to go for the easy target” argued Lee as he told us about his early radio days as a presenter when he felt anyone was fair game for a ribbing.

Now, post -kids and more experienced, he’s no longer interested in winding up 15-35 males which, he admitted “is pretty easy to do”.

“Racists or homophobes are the most predictable”, said Lee “They just speak and they’ve done the job for you”. Both presenters agreed that they now tried to nurture a quality conversation, although they still teased “complete idiots”.

The evening finished with more than a few complements from the audience, loyal fans themselves of the phone-in format.

Altogether, a great evening and thanks to the Radio Academy for putting the event together.

Audio has now been posted to The Radio Academy website.