It’s early in the First Quarter but it’s also time to check on how are you doing in terms of bulking up for the Summer. Because when it comes to concerts and other huge community events, whoever has the most bodies wins. And with a couple of the big companies changing policies, it’s going to need to be more of a creative use of what you have.
The first concert that Kevin Callahan went to after taking over at KSON in San Diego was Dierks Bentley. iHeart had a two employee Country station in the market and they showed up with 63 bodies. They had to come from somewhere and not break and policies. Clearly someone there had put some effort into rounding them up.
Here, again, is my mathematical equation for how many interns/street teamers you should have when the end of May hits. In a market the size of Memphis or Vegas or Portland or Charlotte? 25. You’ll lose three immediately. Either to paying gigs or to disillusionment. You’ll be down to 12 by the 4th of July and around August 1st, they’ll start shedding away as college looms, they burn out, die or are arrested. You’ll usually limp into September 1st with five or six lifers. (Hire them Immediately)
Rachel at WIOG in Saginaw goes out every Spring and WORKS the market. Hit every college and school posting notices. And consistently, every year, she has better interns then everybody else combined. But she doesn’t wait for them to call her. She goes after them.
Look for people who have skillz™. Like Intern Gabby at KZIA who could play sax and rap. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWJcklTFalE
So, Job #1? Get your Warm Bodies.
Then, Job #2? Train them. Giving them a manual to read insures that they’ll skim it and then be surprised when you show up at a remote and are mad when none of them are in station gear.
Rick Thomas and I did the first Street School at a station in Phoenix. This followed the Promotion Director handing out manuals, which none of them read, so we had to go back and re-learn ‘em.
I’m about to be knee deep in Street School Season and will be flying around doing these sessions. Why should you do a Street School? Because these people are the face of the radio station, our customer service representatives, our first line of defense, and frankly, the kid who handed you your fries at the drive-thru last night probably got more training in how to deal with the public then any radio station intern ever gets.
Away from the station. A park. A restaurant. A client’s location. Sticking them in a conference room immediately kills the vibe. KSFM in Sacramento did a few at the PD’s backyard pool. It was fun. Not threatening. They bonded. It was great.
iHeart in Minny did theirs at the picnic ground at the theme park in one of the pavilions but has also done it in their performance room and at my farm. The Marketing Director, followed by the Promotion Directors, followed by the Coordinators, all get up, introduce themselves and tell how they came to be where they are. (Most came up through the ranks from being interns.) The GM often will get up and say a little about the history and background of the cluster.
Go around and let every new person stand up, tell a little bit about themselves. “My name is Paige, I go to North Hennepin Technical College, my major is Mortuary Science and I breed ferrets.”
I always begin by asking the assembled group “How do radio stations make money?” This is usually met by blank stares and then someone will offer tentatively “They get paid for playing songs?” (EVERY time) And I say “Only in certain companies and only in upstate New York.” There’s usually someone who will say “Advertising?” And that starts the ball rolling.
We explain that the station sells commercials and that, the more people that listen, the more money we can charge for a commercial. I then ask “And how do we know how many people listen to our radio station?” (Blank stares) And I explain Nielsen and the fact that some lady with her hair in curlers sitting in a cigarette-burn scarred Toyota Camry is right now drinking a Mountain Dew staring at the road while a meter in her purse is recording the station that happens to be on in the car.
And that, as Street Teamers, if they go out, and shake lots and lots and lots and lots of hands, and if every little 8 second interaction they have with the public is good, and they’re polite and courteous and informed about their product, odds are that occasionally they are going to come across someone who is/will be carrying a meter that determines our ratings and because of that, will get in their car a give us a listen.
If you’re in a PPM Market, explain that loyalty through a handshake is just as important when it comes to Debby keeping you on in her cubical at work for 8 hours a day.
Jerry Clifton believes, and I concur, that if we started a station tomorrow, new signal, new station, and if the music was decent and the signal listenable, and if we went out and shook hands with 25% of the people in the market in the first 90 days, we’d debut at #1.
I’ve seen new morning shows do variations of this and debut hugely. So it certainly can’t hurt.
So I write on our big easel the number of people in the market, divide that by 4, and then divide that number by 90. Which leaves us with the number of people PER DAY that we need to go out and shake hands with in our fishing expedition for meters. I did this in Boise. The number is 1388 hands. That is PER day.
You aren’t going to get that many handshakes (I explain) sitting at a remote. You need to go in search of where they are. Which leads us to?
The great thing about Street Teamers is that they haven’t been in Radio long enough to get screwed up. They have fresh perspective. So I flip over the sheet on the easel and ask, “Where are there places that we can find hands to shake?” And they’ll start throwing out suggestions. Specific parks or beaches or events or other places that the station should have on its radar. This ends up usually being a terrific source of info and date.
This is the time that we remind them that, again, they have 8 seconds to make either a good impression or a bad impression, and that will forever be that person’s memory of the station.
Don’t smoke at events
Don’ talk on your cell at events
Don’t text or check your social networks at events.
Designate one person to do the social media for the event. They should be the only one on a phone/tablet and they should not be doing it at the table or in the tent.
Don’t eat at events. No FOOD or DRINKS should ever be on the table or on the set.
Listen to the station when you’re in the van
Be informed with what the station is doing so you can knowledgeably answer the myriad of questions the audience is going to have
Wear clean station gear
You’re on stage. Remember that. Don’t swear. Don’t try to pick up people
Don’t sit at the booth. It makes you look bored and unapproachable. Actually there should never be any chairs. If you can’t stand for a couple hours, go see a doctor.
Don’t ever “get into it” with the competition
Usually we’ll randomly pick a half dozen of them and have them, with the help of a coordinator, set up a remote. Then critique them. My client in Minny turned this into a Goofus & Gallent act and showed the kids how NOT to act at a remote. And even more importantly, how to interact with THE CLIENTS.
By far the most important part of the exercise. We do a 30 minute bannering exercise and explanation of how people actually find their way to showing up at one of our remotes. And it’s usually not because they heard it on the air. It’s because they were driving by and saw this massive dog and pony show set up.
If your Street Teamers are allowed to do call-ins, then we teach them how to do it. I use Strawberry from NOW-FM in SFO’s“Burning Building Theory Of Call-Ins” to explain how to prioritize what you talk about and when it should go in your call-in. Basically, these calls are painting a picture of what is happening where they are. If you DON’T allow street team calls, I remind them that they should never leave the station without telling the jock where they are going, so he/she can talk about it.
This is a quick tutorial of the Art of blending call-ins and bannering to convince 50,000 people that this thing they are at, is presented by your station.
Take twenty minutes and have them throw out ideas for stuff that is coming up. “What would be a great way to give out backstage passes for Summer Jam?” “What should we do at our booth at the Fair this year?” The best ideas in the world? Come from interns. Because they haven’t heard all the BS excuses about why we can’t do stuff. They still believe that anything is possible. (And it is). I suggest that they always keep their eyes and ears open for ways to improve on what we do, and also, again, places we should be at. Nothing ever gives someone a sense of “ownership” in the product more then a feeling that their opinion is appreciated.
This is supposed to be a fun, bonding day for them. Play some games. Have some fun. The coordinator in Kansas City so scared the kids with rules and threats that by the time I rolled in, they were frightened little puppies. Essentially ruined.
We usually end the thing with going around and assigning them their Street Team name for the summer. Because “Let’s check in with Tats down at Lake Calhoun” sounds a lot more him then “Let’s check in with Teresa”. (Sorry to all the Teresa’s out there)
The names from one of the sessions last Spring included Bam Bam, The Gooch, McLovin’, Jail Bait and Double D.
If, by doing Street School, you actually help to “land” a meter/diary or two, and can cut down on your complaint calls from clients by even 10%, then it was a day well-spent.