Local Radio For Paisley

The first job I had was with Paisley’s local radio station in the late 1990s.

It no longer exists but I’m a firm believer that the return of such a channel would be good for the town and surrounding area, especially in today’s modern media environment and with all the possibilities that entails.

It’s disappointing that once again what appeared to me to be credible bids for community radio licences have not been successful in OFCOM’s latest round of community radio licence awards. I wasn’t involved in any of them but I had hoped one would have been successful. It has not at the time of writing (15/12/17) although it does appear that neither has been wholly rejected – they just have not been awarded in this latest round.

I’m not particularly a believer in the community radio route and it’s for that reason I’ve never been involved in any of the bids. I would be more in favour of a purely commercial operation and this of course carries with it far greater risk and barriers to entry which is why I haven’t been involved in that either!

The fact it that while various radio and media professionals see the value in a broadcast channel for the town, the general population does not and the business community would find it difficult to give its financial backing at least until the station had a proven track record of success.

And so my position is simply this: I’d like to see a dedicated radio station return to Paisley and Renfrewshire. I have no interest in directly becoming involved in any community licence bids but wish those that do well and would be happy to discuss or provide support on an informal basis to anyone who asks. I’m not in a position just now to commit to the pursuit of a full-time licence and in any event, have the view that for a Paisley radio station to have any chance of succeeding on air, it would first have to gain significant traction on-line.

That’s why we have created ‘Renfrewshire Weekend Radio‘ – a ‘holding’ station which would allow anyone with an interest to broadcast via the internet (and me when I can find the time) and which would immediately close upon the successful licence award to any group bringing a radio channel back to the area.

Anyone with an interest in working with us – follow the link and get in touch.

UPDATED to make clear that the 2017 community radio bids have not been flatly rejected by OFCOM but merely have not been awarded in this latest round. The same bids could, in theory, be awarded at a later date.

It’s All About The Experience

There’s irrefutable evidence that the unique ‘experience’ is what we all want these days.

A recent article about Barrhead Travel’s expansion highlighted the demand for customised holiday experiences, rather than simply cheap flights and hotels.

I’ve just spent a small fortune in the M+Ms store at Leicester Square, buying gifts for the family. I’d mentioned after my last trip to London that there was an amazing 4 storey building devoted to the tiny little sweets and mentioned some of the merchandise it sold. This turned into a full blown discussion about the madness of it all, but after I showed my Mum some YouTube clips from other visitors she was quickly won over and insisted I brought her something back from my next trip! And then there’s my kids…my nephews etc etc!

Round the corner in Covent Garden, ice cream giant Magnum has a pop up shop where you can ‘make your own Magnum’ and then eat it in the cafe area. At every stage in the process, there are opportunities to take and share pictures of you ‘experiencing’ Magnum on social media. It’s like the ‘Build A Bear’ workshop for adults!

Smart brands are going to great lengths to unlock there’s ‘experience’ opportunities.









It could be expanding a range of merchandise, bringing products to life, turning them into characters, or letting people in on the creative process…how are these products made? Can customers ‘have a go’ at making their own?

Break down your customer journey and your manufacturing process and look for opportunities to let people in and turn it into an attraction.

Perhaps radio cou

ld turn weekly playlist meetings or music research into an event, which as well as gathering useful focus group, market research data, also serves as a powerful marketing activity.

Choose selected listeners who’ve downloaded your app, send them push notifications and invite them along to the ‘Playlist Night’. Put on some food and drink, show them round, explain how you choose what songs get played, let them hear the latest releases and canvas their views.

Many stations I listen to have white label ‘dating’ apps. Why not turn the ‘playlist night’ into a ‘music testing/speed dating’ event. You could charge a modest admission fee for that and you’d be giving a desirable audience a unique experience they’ll tell their friends about, thus marketing your station.

And if you think ‘nice idea but no-one will ever do it’ – think again. Some station already is because I’ve just overheard a woman raving about the whole experience to her friend on the tube. It’s the first time in years I’ve overheard someone talking enthusiastically about something involving a radio station.

Much is made of the digital revolution. But ‘digital’ alone is 1s and 0s and boring as hell. Digital that works is expressing the physical in a digital space. Enjoying a unique real life experience and keeping a permanent digital record that we carry with us everywhere we go and expressing how that physical experience has made us feel, in the digital realm.

Think about how you can unlock the unique experiences associated with your business.

Union Jack Radio Advert At Scotland Game

If the object of advertising is to raise awareness and get yourself talked about, then mission accomplished for the team at Union Jack Radio.

Their pitchside digital display ad during tonight’s Men’s World Cup Qualifier at Hampden has put a radio station few had heard of previously right at the heart of the conversation – look at this:

So what’s happened…don’t they understand?!

You might argue ‘Why the fuss?, Why shouldn’t Scotland embrace the Union Flag and enjoy a radio station that plays the best British music?’

A valid argument perhaps but it’s about context. And in the context of football, especially the Scotland national team, playing at home, at Hampden, the Union Flag doesn’t really figure. And for once, it’s not a debate about independence or remaining part of the union, the flag itself just doesn’t figure, regardless of political beliefs.

My personal belief (and that’s all – I’ve no knowledge of this particular situation) is that an advertising agency bought some space, probably part of a blanket campaign to involve promoting Union Jack Radio at ALL the home nations’ World Cup qualifiers. They haven’t thought, haven’t realised, just had an opportunity and threw their logo at it.

What they do next is the important bit.

Because cheeky advertising is bang on the brand values for Union Jack Radio (and its better known sister station Jack FM.) Tongue in cheek is what they do, and with this pitch side advertising at Hampden, they might have inadvertently stumbled into something that could truly connect and go viral.

So, if they’re smart, they’ll respond to some of these Tweets from incensed Scotland fans. Maybe reference the score. Some Scottish bands. Opt out of their jukebox for a bit and hire a well known Scottish personality to host some programmes for them. Or – and I believe the technology would allow for this – change their advert in the 2nd half to reference the slagging they’re currently taking on Twitter.

It’s easy to get reach and awareness these days. True engagement is harder, and to get Scottish football fans to scan their digital radios for a new station and actually give it a listen, is nigh impossible.

But if Union Jack follows up what many believe to be a mistake with something clever and utilise real-time, then they could still win some new fans before the final whistle blows.

The key is the follow up. Trolling Scotland fans and making them angry doesn’t constitute marketing ‘genius’ although I’ll bet some self-appointed PR ‘guru’ writes a blog in the morning suggesting it does. No, reach and getting talked about is the easy part. For this particular piece of advertising to have any value, Union Jack Radio needs us to listen.

Crisis Comms: The Holding Statement

Ask a PR, social media or ‘comms person’ what’s the first thing they should do in a crisis and many will cite the ‘holding statement’ as an example of good practice.

And it is.

For about 20 minutes.

It was never intended to be anything more than that.

As the hours tick by, the number of casualties goes up and details emerge it is incumbent upon you, and whoever it is you represent, to go much further.

Not because it’s ‘good PR’ or ‘right for the business’ but simply because it is morally the right thing to do.

HR, legal and the tired old ex hack who takes a consultancy fee but spends half his time on the golf course might turn pale at the thought of this; but in a crisis, doing and saying what’s morally right matters the most.

That holding statement buys you a bit of time, and nothing more.

In a crisis, your job is not to issue a statement and lock things down.

Your job is to deal with questions. There will be many and they will be emotionally charged.

You should put someone up. Face an interview. You don’t need to answer the questions or get into detail if you’re unable to right now but you should stand there and take them and treat the situation with the respect it deserves.

People need to see the effect this is having on you. They need to be able to ask questions and make points and it will benefit you if you take these questions, craft responses and come back with updates and answers. It is not a time to hide. And you must not let the legal team, HR or ‘crisis protocol’ stop you from demonstrating your ultimate loyalty, which is to your fellow human beings.

Too often I see businesses and agencies representing them changing from friendly and social to defensive, cold and corporate, hiding behind bland statements issued and then updated once in 12 hours.

You were my friend yesterday.

You need to be my friend again today. More than ever.

Live Interviews Are Getting Tougher

What the usual pundits forgot to mention in their rush to slag off Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn for failing to remember the facts in those horrendous election campaign interviews they gave, was what this tells us about live interviews in the digital age.

Radio presenters and producers like the folk you’ll encounter at LBC, talkSport, BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Scotland and so on are now being judged on how they perform on social media.

It might not be a formal ‘more hits = more pay’ but it’s a metric that’s given serious consideration.

All those clips of James O’Brien on Facebook will have an influence on his ratings and his position at the station. He wants success on the radio and he also wants success on social media.

And so when programme teams are preparing for interviews, I believe they are now going looking for the social media ‘moment’.

It’s routine now that the majority of radio interviews will be filmed. The cameras will be recording as soon as you enter the studio and they’ll keep going during any breaks in the programme. Mics down and red light off? Everything you say as you begin to relax in the presenter’s company is still being recorded and can be used against you!

Live radio interviews now require you to contend with a presenter who has set out from the beginning to break you. To find the moment you’re going to fall apart. Where you’ll go off message (or fail to communicate ANY message) and deliver that viral social media sensation they want so much.

Of course, Abbott and Corbyn deserved all they got for failing to put forward even the basic numbers. The questions they were asked weren’t even challenging. But it’s important you understand that live radio presenters are going out looking for those moments.

Don’t become a victim. The best approach is to practice. Practice with someone who truly understands the modern media environment and if you are more experienced at giving broadcast interviews recognise that the environment has changed. ‘Busking it’ is a dangerous game these days.

As well as our media training workshops and on demand training videos, we offer private 1-1 interview practice sessions in person, on the phone or via Skype. We can go through the questions you’re likely to be asked, I’ll help you craft answers and show you where all the pitfalls are. To find out more call 0808 133 1353 or use the ‘Contact‘ page.

It’s easy to laugh when others mess up. It’s much smarter to learn from what’s happened to them.


When To Sack The Boss

Lots of discussion this week about Sunderland FC manager David Moyes and his appalling comments towards a journalist doing her job in a post match interview.

And the same old ‘experts’ popping up on the phone-ins and social media with their take on what should happen as a result.

In my opinion, it’s perfectly straightforward and for me, it’s got little to do with what’s ‘sexism’ and what’s ‘banter’ and what ‘goes with the territory’ and everything to do with the law of the land and basic human decency.

I would sack David Moyes for what he said the other day because it’s a completely unacceptable way to behave.

He’s done the right thing by apologising and I don’t doubt his sincerity.

But the organisation has to move to protect its reputation and to send a signal to everyone else. It has to be seen to do the right thing, particularly given its position in the community and importance of those relationships.

Moyes made a terrible mistake and comments like that hint at a particular attitude which takes time to change. He shouldn’t be condemned or ostracised for good but in my opinion should be sacked for gross misconduct and take some time out of football to reflect and change.

Media relations, PR, crisis management…call it what you want all has its place but deciding what you stand for and acting upon it is far more important.


Women: Equality But Still A Commodity

Read this story about the weather presenter who’s colleague handed her a cardigan live on air because he thought her dress was too revealing.

Notice at the end of the post, which she says is her ‘explanation’ of what happened and to clear up any confusion, she includes links to some of the mainstream media coverage of the incident.

Much of that media coverage was along the lines of, ‘what right does a male co-presenter have to tell a female colleague what to wear?’ but it also sparked an online discussion about whether or not her dress was too revealing for a weather presenter.

All this equals clicks and page views and traction. And for the presenter herself, it meant interview requests, increased attention and a higher profile. She seems to be OK with that, given her decision to post links to the news coverage the episode received.

The cumulative effect of all this is yet more media coverage of a woman based on what she wears, and how she looks and nothing about her ability to do the job. The media knows this kind of story generates strong feelings, sparks debate and will be one of their ‘most clicked’ stories. That’s why they all run it.

There’s a terrible risk that debates about equality and the position of women at work get reduced to polarised debates which still involve images of the woman being widely shared and comment being passed on her looks. That’s not equality. It’s certainly not news.

No, it’s the position of women in society being used as clickbait and I can’t be the only one that doesn’t like it.

Same for the coverage last week about the high heels at work, and last year about Charlotte Proudman and the bloke on Linkedin. (No fault of their own, but the manner in which the media covered it).

Here’s the thing: men and women will interact at work. Sometimes it will be banter, sometimes it will be an innocent mistake, sometimes a serious mistake, sometimes a publicity stunt, sometimes abuse.

The trick is to get better at establishing which of these it is and being honest about your motivation for publishing the story.

And if you’re serious about addressing gender imbalance in society, how about the media using its resources and clout and exposing the worst offenders. The managers that bully men and women into not taking their full paternity allowance. The gang masters that traffic women (and sometimes young girls) into this country and force them to work in the sex industry to pay off family debt, and the bosses of firms that hire sales execs ‘cos she’s got a cute ass’.

The media could find and expose these people right now. But they don’t, because it would involve telling stories about men, with grainy pictures to accompany them.

And how many clicks would that be worth?

Give Better TV And Radio Interviews – E-Learning Course

My full day media relations training courses continue to prove popular but I know not every business owner can afford the time or the money (even though they’re very competitively priced!!)

I love helping small businesses get results from TV and radio interviews, so I’ve taken part of my full day course and made it available as an e-learning workshop on the Udemy platform.

Not only will the course help you Give Better TV And Radio Interviews, it’ll help with any public speaking or presentation situations you find yourself in. We’ll look at how to prepare for interviews, establishing key messages, dealing with awkward questions, how to use silence to your advantage and much more.

The course is interactive, features real life examples and should take about 90 minutes to complete.

And as a keen reader of this blog, you benefit from an exclusive discount which give you the full course, for £60, instead of the usual £75.

Click here to find out more about the Give Better TV And Radio Interviews e-learning course and please do leave a review once you’ve completed the course and let me know what you think of it.

A Warning For Celebrities On Twitter

If you’re lucky enough to be ‘famous’ and you use the Twitter social network, here’s a quick piece of advice.

Be careful who you follow.

Specifically, be careful who you follow, if you (as many celebrities tend to), only follow a handful of other people.

I get it; you do this because you’re busy and important. And it looks good to BE FOLLOWED by hundreds of thousands and only to follow 4 or 5 or even a couple of hundred yourself.

But here’s the problem, and in saying this I am assuming you’re a celebrity who values your privacy.

If you only follow a small number of people, it only takes me a moment or two to scan through the list and see who all these people are.

What if one of them happens to be your sister? Your cousin? Or your Mum? Or the children’s nanny?

And what if one of those not-so-famous relatives or associates of yours isn’t discreet about sharing their location when they Tweet? After all, no-one is really interested in them, are they?

Except that when they Tweet ‘having a great night round at my famous big sister’s house’ and they’ve kept their location on…well, wouldn’t you rather the world didn’t know exactly where you live?

One to think about perhaps. And if you’re a celebrity, or a mere mortal, or anyone else interested in using social networks wisely and efficiently for business purposes, then why don’t you come and join us at our next ‘Embrace The Space‘ social networking session.

The Worst Corporate Christmas Card Ever

Was sent by the now defunct radio station Scot FM during Christmas 1998.

It was an entirely plain, dark blue card on the front, with a slightly raised outline of an ear, also in dark blue.

‘What the hell is this shit?’ recipients must have thought, before opening it and reading the message ‘Happy New Ear!’ and signatures of all the team (electronically written and printed on the card).

I can’t begin to think about who might have come up with that idea and what they might be doing now. And I’d stress that this card was sent in the run up to Christmas – it’s not as if they couriered it round everyone on Hogmanay where it might have won a fraction of a point for timely relevance.

To anyone (there’s always one) who’s reading this and thinking ‘ah-hah’ – but that was 17 years ago and you still remember the card, it worked, it’s marketing genius!

I remember it because I worked there and the time and was mortified that we were sending out such pish. It didn’t get the radio station any goodwill or interest in the marketplace that I’m aware of and 3 years later is ceased to exist altogether.

I’d say this crappy corporate Christmas card was at least partly responsible.

So that’s my candidate for the worst corporate Christmas card of all time, but maybe you’ve seen one that’s even worse?