You might call Jenna Land a prophet for visual radio. She speaks with humor and animation when discussing the need for radio industry people to think and communicate visually.
Land is digital sales manager for Beasley Media Group Charlotte. She gave the opening keynote remarks at Radio World’s recent Visual Radio Symposium.
Beasley Broadcast Group Inc. owns and operates 63 stations in 15 large and mid-size markets. Approximately 19 million consumers listen to its stations weekly over the air, online and on smartphones and tablets and engage with its brands and personalities through digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, text, apps and email.
Land began her career in radio as a promotions assistant with CBS Radio. A graduate of UNC Charlotte, she majored in communication studies with an emphasis on journalism and organizational communications.
Radio World: Having participated in the Visual Radio Symposium, what did you take from those conversations and what you heard other speakers say?
Land: Going in, it was more of a question: “Are radio and video important together?” And coming out of it, the answer is: Absolutely, 100 percent, without a doubt, it’s vital for radio to have a visual element piece — not only have a piece but embrace it and use it, not only on social but on their website and so on. It was an astounding “yes.”
RW: What does it mean to think visually at an organization, and how does it play out at a radio company like yours?
Land: Everything you hear is everything you should see.
So everything you hear on air should have an element of visual to it — whether that be social, whether that be website, whether that be podcast, whether that be pre-roll, it needs to have that visual element. It’s not just a silo of audio; it is now a combination of appealing to different senses, visual being one of them.
RW: At a 21st century radio media company, who should be responsible for leading and creating this visual strategy? Where will the impetus come from?
Land: I don’t think it falls to individual sales managers anymore. It falls to all of the leadership and the talent. All of our talent on all of our radio stations need to embrace the visual piece of it. That’s what helps grow their base for listeners and their audience for their morning shows or afternoon shows.
The sales manager becomes important because it’s more offerings that we can offer to our clients. The program directors should embrace it because it will grow their audience base. And the market managers too. If you really want to be a leading market, or a leading cluster of stations in your market within your company, that’s a great way to grow revenue.
It’s not just one person or one department anymore. It’s every single department. Even promotions when they’re on site, they need to be using visual, whether it be pictures or videos or Facebook Live or Instagram live, to attract people to the events and to let people know that, “Hey, we are live and local on the street two doors down from you,” for example.
So it falls to everybody now — which is completely different than a couple years ago when it was the digital sales manager, maybe you had another manager; but now it really falls to everybody.
RW: It seems safe to say that employers are beginning to look for different skill sets as part of the hiring process. How does that play out?
Land: If you are looking for that video role, you obviously need to have some video editing skills. But we all now, for the most part, have access to phones with video cameras and access to social media accounts. I like to look at people’s social media accounts and what they’re doing personally. And if they don’t have professional experience but have the “know-withal,” it can be taught. I’m not a highly skilled video editor, for example; but I know what it takes to take a good Facebook Live video.
One of the biggest skills is just to embrace social media and to use it. Just like selling radio — if you want to be a great radio sales person, you have to know your product; and the great news is that knowing your product is just listening. Same thing with social media and videos. If you want to know how to sell it or how to make it better, go online and watch some on social media, or go online and watch some pre-rolls on YouTube and see which ones stick out to you. It’s a great way to learn some pointers about what really attracts that visual consumer as opposed to just audio.
RW: Specific to social media, are there one or two platforms that are critical to start with?
Land: I would start with Facebook first because it’s the largest. It doesn’t skew the youngest; it might not work as well for, like, a top 40 station. However it is the largest. And then depending on the format and the audience, I would either go to Twitter and/or Instagram.
But I would start with Facebook, start building an audience there and start boosting posts and really being rich with content — so that when your consumers and when your listeners interact with your brand on Facebook, it “pops” and you’re giving them something of value. Because with social media, you’re one click away from very bad negative comments or someone not following your brand. It’s important that you provide the consumer what they want, which is great content.
RW: Can you give us a recent example of a project that made good use of visual communication?
Land: We just completed one that was really cool, leading up to the holidays. We did 12 days of giving with a local credit union. We were able to use four out of the seven of our stations and 12 different talents. Each day, a talent would go out into our community with $100 gift cards and give them away for the holidays. We captured this all on Facebook Live. People were able to share the joy not only on site but also with social media and provide that warm feel-good going into the holidays.
What was unique about this campaign is we did not use spot radio at all. It was all social media that we used to promote it. And it was interactive, it was versatile. We used some of our urban stations, our top 40 station, our country station and our adult contemporary station, which goes to Christmas music during the holidays. We were able to interact with all four brands with one client.
Many different people were not only touched and got a free gift card but they were also appreciative. And on social media, people liked it, shared it and commented. It provided this visual element of their favorite personality out at, let’s say, their grocery store, giving away gift cards.
It’s pretty cool. You can’t do that on radio; but with the ability on social media and Facebook Live, people were able to sit or be on their mobile phone, be at their office, be on the airplane getting ready to take off, and watch these feel-good moments unfold.
RW: What else should we know?
Land: We work in a vibrant, thriving industry. Radio is not dead. It’s very alive. And what has helped for it to stay alive is this visual piece. We see great growth potential in radio; we see great growth opportunities and great things that we can offer our client that other companies can’t do, and other industries can’t do, because we’ve embraced this visual piece. It’s cool to watch kind of the “old radio,” if you will, evolve.
Radio hasn’t changed as far as what it provides: information, entertainment. But what has changed is the consumption of radio. Radio has done a very good job changing to people’s new behaviors and how they consume media.