James Perrin

What Radio Can Teach Us About Content Marketing

30th Apr 2013 Content Marketing Blog 7 minutes to read

On Air MicrophoneBear with me on this one. For decades, radio stations all over the world have had to create programmes and schedules dedicated at bringing in listeners; and at the heart of it is good quality content, albeit, content over the airwaves. So what can Content Marketers learn from the world of radio, if anything?

Having worked as a broadcast assistant for a very short while, I began thinking about the comparisons between the content produced over the airwaves, and the content we create online. To be honest, whilst they are completely separate mediums, there is a lot the online world can learn from traditional media production and programming.

Think about it, producing a radio show, or indeed managing a schedule means coming up with a litany of ideas. Chris Evans famously used a clock face to work out what he was going to do during each hour of his show; and in order to fill his show, he needed ideas. It’s this kind of meticulous planning and production that Content Marketers should look at as a blueprint, and strive towards creating and promoting something that’ll work just as well.

This is not to say that traditional media is in anyway better than new media, or me harping on about the glory days of traditional media like radio. However, given that these mediums are so established, why not look at the ways in which they create their content, and simply apply the principles to the online world? Well that’s exactly what I’ve done, and here’s what I’ve established.

User Generated Content

Example: Talk Radio, phone-ins


You’ve no doubt heard them all the time. Whether they’re discussing politics, business, community affairs or sport, you can’t help but listen and engage with talk radio. But why are phone-ins, and talk radio in general so effective? Well, because programme producers set an agenda to get under your skin; and if it’s not the agenda, it’s the caller’s opinion that you’ll either agree or disagree with. In any case, you’ll listen, react and engage – and that’s a pretty powerful formula for us content marketers.

Lesson: Host polls, forums, and collect user generated content

There’s a lot to be said of user generated content. Whilst you must be careful that the content on your site is of quality and is not spammy, there’s nothing better for a content marketer than to have a community of people engage with a site or blog by leaving opinions, stories and comments. Look at setting an agenda or topic of discussion. Alternatively, ask your audience to share their views, images, stories and perhaps incentivise them with a prize. It’s a fairly well-used tactic, but if you get the question and/or topic right, it’s an incredibly effective tactic.


Example: 5Live, local radio, news pieces

TV Interview

An interviewee with a name to themselves works well on radio. Whilst interviews are conducted all of the time (some with small names and some with large names), if you have someone who has something relevant and interesting to say, then this works well on radio. Admittedly, not all interviews are good, especially if they’re performed just for promotional purposes. In this instance, it’s really at the producer’s discretion as to what constitutes as a newsworthy interview.

Lesson: Perform industry specific interviews

Whether these are hosted as videos, news articles, press releases or blog posts, a good interview with quotes and sound bites gives any piece of content validity and authority. If you can interview someone who’s a big name in your industry, then that’s a coup, but as long as it’s quality, relevant or news-worthy then a good interview should certainly be part of your Content Marketing mix.

Vox Pops

Example: Most news items or features

Get Interviewed Anyone that has worked in radio or television as a junior or a runner will tell you that at some point they had to gather vox pops. In effect, these are sound clips of people on the street. In fact, vox pop is derived from the Latin term vox populi, meaning “voice of the people” – a bit of pointless knowledge for you. These are great at capturing differences of opinions from a number of different people. They can add a bit of value to any piece, simply by getting real views from real people.

Lesson: Crowd sourcing

No one likes fake or made-up content. Some of the best pieces use real people. Whilst an interview is simply not possible all the time, another way would be to crowd source your content, a bit like a vox pop. However, the added bonus here is that thanks to social media, you can go beyond the voice of the man in your local street, and look towards the voice of the man in a number of streets across the world. Not only that, but those featured are more likely to share your content as a result, meaning more exposure. As long as their views are relevant to the title and topic of your piece, it will certainly add value to your Content Marketing efforts.


Example:Radio 1 film reviews

Trip AdvisorEvery now and then you’ll get an expert on the radio reviewing a product, service, film, album, track, book, item of clothing and much more. Whilst listening to an experts opinion on something may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is an audience out there that loves to know what the people in the know are thinking about a certain product.

Lesson: Foster the public’s appetite for a review

As Content Marketers we should look towards either reviewing products or services ourselves, or better yet, featuring guest reviewers with the know-how and expertise of a particular sector, product or service. This is a great way to get responses from your readers, and even to get them to share their views on the subject.

Topical Items On A Daily Basis

Example: Included in most daily shows

The SunBy this I’m referring to an event, national day, or something topical in the news. These are talked about in most shows, and often inspire other ideas such as competitions or entertaining features. It’s certainly not the most compelling content, but it does capture a nation’s mood, or specifically what they’ll be talking about at work that day.

Lesson: Create topical and well-timed content

Create an editorial plan of specific days of interest. Whatever industry you’re operating in, be sure to check out relevant national days, and keep a close eye on the papers. If something relevant has been featured in a paper or magazine, be sure to do a follow-up, or reference this in some way to your own content. Piggybacking off other events like this is a great way to cross promote and give your content even more exposure.

Audience Interaction And Participation

Example: Text-ins, phone-ins, social media

Twitter LogoWhilst this is similar to user-generated content, the goal here is to get condensed views and opinions on a subject or topic. You hear it all the time, Jack from Leeds has text in to say, or Laura from Manchester has Tweeted, and so on. This highlights how traditional media are utilising modern media techniques to help with their own reach, a topic of discussion for another time perhaps. But if traditional media are using social media to garner more of an interest in their content, then so should content marketers.

Lesson: Outreach via social media

It goes without saying that any content marketing strategy must involve a promotional aspect via social media. It’s a very powerful platform to gain additional exposure. However, simply sending out a Tweet or updating your Facebook status won’t cut the mustard. A radio show already has the reach to ask their audience to send in their views via Twitter and Facebook, so how can a content marketer compete with that?

If you have a site or a blog with a strong following you can write an engaging post, that’ll get people interacting and engaging with you, but there are other ways. Whilst ‘outreach’ and ‘community building’ come across as marketing buzz words, there’s a lot to be said about them as marketing techniques. If you spend time interacting and engaging with a community, as well as networking and building relationships, you’ll find that when it comes to promoting content, your content will work far more effectively than if you didn’t invest in this time.

All of the tactics and techniques mentioned are well-established within the world of Content Marketing. By drawing a comparison to how content creation works for traditional forms of media, like radio, I hope I’ve managed to give our techniques more credence and validity. Content Marketing is at the start of something huge, and these techniques could be the blueprint for any successful campaign.

Image Credits:

On Air Microphone from BigStock
TV Interview from BigStock
Person Giving an Interview from BigStock

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