Radio presenting is among a formidable list of professional realms, where a well-developed personal brand categorically raises and upholds you as a highly professional individual.
The value of defining and developing your personal brand well is that it will allow you to enter contract renewal season confidently – whatever may transpire. Read on for more…
Have you read media creative and trainer Tim Zunckel’s piece ‘The Ego Has (Crash) Landed’?
The inspired work (which was published here, this time last year) in essence, was a piece which empathised with radio freelancers, or contractors in contract-renewal season.
What should have you intrigued about Zunckel’s piece was his opinion that “great on-air talent requires management. Not the noun, the verb.” His belief is that the relationship between personalities or presenters, as well as their radio/media brands, is a symbiotic one, stating, “They rely on each other to ensure a professional, brand-centric message; consistency in approach and audience-centric engagement.
“When a presenter works for a radio brand, they must know that consumers resonate with the radio station and the personality, and that they need to take their personal brand really seriously. It is the presenter brand that builds the immediate relationship with the audience, which has the ability to hook clients and engage listeners.”
CapeTalk station manager, Tessa van Staden, agrees that relevance and authenticity are key in talk radio. “The audience can pick up when a particular host is not being real,” she says.
Elaborating on the steady balance necessitated between presenter, brand, genuineness, and audiences, Van Staden adds: “A successful talk radio host will spend years building his or her reputation. It is about their tone when interviewing guests and whether they remain genuinely open to hearing from callers. I wouldn’t say a host’s reputation can be destroyed in an instant, but they do need to be mindful when it comes to why a particular interview has been scheduled.
“Also, every now and then, a host may become upset or angry. In those instances, listeners tend to be patient and understanding, provided such outbursts don’t become the norm. In fact, a host’s ability to control their emotion is key to building a lasting brand in this medium; it is easier for those who are on air on a permanent basis to exercise this muscle,” she advises.
The incomparable radio station manager’s take is that freelance hosts have a tougher time than permanent on-air staff, because they tend not to enjoy the luxury of continuity and consistency.
So how can you set about making your personal brand stand tall above the competition, so your desired contract is secured, or gets renewed?
Useful tips to utilise
Van Staden advises that freelance hosts use social media in ways that represent who they are as an individual, rather than posting only for the sake of seeming to be active on a platform.
Build your personal brand on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook by sharing causes that resonate with you, and interests you are passionate about; That way, your audience will get to know who you are in a heartfelt and genuine way.
Zunckel suggests the industry is fuelled by an excess of ego and not enough on-air flair.
Astute presenters, with creative ability, industry acumen and well-developed personal brands will be continually on the look out for new opportunities, he says, meaning there is less cause for them to stress when a contract is not renewed for one reason or another, he believes.
Remember, it’s all a learning curve.
If the station management does not “share ideas, fears, aspirations, potential, future thinking and station strategy”, you can do better next time around, says Zunckel. The relationship between on-air talent and station manager is akin to a love affair – it requires less ego and more high-level communication.
“I have been in talent meetings where the station manager has delivered more ego than a locker room full of teenagers spraying deodorant; it’s embarrassing,” he laughs.
Remember: level-headed and strategic programming decisions should ideally dictate changes to a radio station’s line-up.
“Make [great] content and audiences will come,” says Zunckel, “especially if you’ve been afforded the opportunity to build a brand on a traditional platform for years.”
This is where your personal brand as a presenter, and dedication to an interest, topic or a cause, will stand you in great stead.
A last note from industry veteran and former OFM radio presenter, Tim Thabete, who has recently rejoined the station as programme manager. He enthuses that – in the current times when individualism is highly celebrated – a radio presenter’s personal brand needs to be authentic and unwavering. As he says, “It doesn’t matter what it is, angel or rebel, as long as it reflects who you are at your core and speaks to your passions and strengths.”
Liezel van der Westhuizen, who has a Masters in Business Communication, owns The Giraffe Brand Academy. Here, her mission as a personal brand builder is to assist clients to stick their necks out and cultivate their power to stand tall and be unique. This, she believes, is the key to marketplace success.
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