Audience Dialogue

Participative Marketing for Local Radio, Chapter 10
Internal marketing: sections 2-3

10.2 Communicate as much as possible

An effective community station will have scores of volunteers. Because they have other lives to live, and the station does not pay them, most of them won't spend much time at the station. Therefore you need to take steps to keep them informed about what's happening. This is best done in many different ways:

It's difficult to overemphasize the importance of communication. I've worked with a lot of broadcasting organizations, and the commonest complaint of staff everywhere is that the management doesn't keep them informed.

Boards of management often have a tendency not to pass on bad news till it is definite; they don't want people to get upset. However, information always leaks out. When news isn't passed on by upper management, or when it's officially announced long after everybody knows it, rumours begin to build up. But rumours are often wrong, and they can have a poisonous effect on staff morale.

"Is this still marketing?" some readers will be wondering. The answer is Yes, because (as explained in chapter 1) all communication about your activities is a form of marketing. Secrecy is the enemy of marketing.

10.3  Conflict management

In hierarchical organizations - as in most businesses - conflict is suppressed. Maybe everybody hates the boss, but nobody dares to argue directly. Instead, they take their revenge in all sorts of underhand ways, ignoring instructions they don't like for as long as possible, or "working to rule:" faithfully following instructions that they believe are wrong, hoping that the employer will learn from the disaster that will result. That's how conflict is expressed in a dictatorship.

In a democratic organization - like many community radio stations - the situation is very different. Conflict is quite open, specially on management committees. Sometimes it's almost like war, or like politics, with several factions developing. Usually, both factions agree on their final goals, but disagree strongly on how to reach them: particularly in program policy, financing, and employment.

In some cultures, conflict is socially undesirable. This is common in East Asia. People might feel very angry inside, but they don't show it.

In other cultures - North America in particular - conflict is almost a social value, but inside organizations it's often diverted into hatred and suspicion of competitors. From my observation, both of these extremes are unproductive. The ideal situation is to have a small amount of conflict and disagreement, but to keep it open, and to keep it focused on particular issues.

The relevance of this to marketing, specially for community radio, is the damage that too much conflict does to the station's staff, then its audience satisfaction, and eventually its funding. Thus an important task for management is to keep the level of conflict at a suitable level - burning like a small fire: not too much, and not too little - just enough to warm up the programs!

 

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