Situation Analysis - a useful method to understand your situation
and what you need to focus on.
What are your Strengths,
Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (or Limitations) - called
A SWOT Analysis is a simple and powerful business technique that has
been around for over 40 years. Whilst ideal for a radio station, you can
also do it for a specific radio program or even yourself as an individual,
to map your career development. The idea is to be realistic about the
situation and environment, whether you are a new station in Bangladesh or a
long established one in the USA. The goal is to have a cool clear-headed
base for next steps.
Very important to use a variety of sources of information for a reasonably
factual, multi-dimensional view of your world as a broadcaster. You can
also make assumptions if they are specific and more or less
common-knowledge (or reasonably acceptable). The idea is to start
with something to work with, and refine later as situations become clearer.
For a community radio station every form of research (or data, evidence)
you can get can support the process. Whether it is feedback from listeners
or group discussions, regional economic forecasts, social studies by an
NGO, all of this is useful. What does a SWOT look like? It's a simple 4 box
chart, see the example below, where you list your points under each
Let's review these elements.
Strengths (or assets)
- Are owned by your station and under your control.
- For a community radio they could include your mix of programs,
community-association, strong image, distinctive personalities with a
strong audience, measurable listener engagement, research/feedback
systems, type of advertisers and NGO partnerships.
- Station assets could include team spirit, volunteer numbers (and
ease to recruit) and positive culture, as they all make a
- Owned by your station (mainly under your control) and opposite to
strengths. The areas where your station is weak / has problems,
this can include financial resources, unreliable power, low-skilled
journalists, old broadcasting equipment and lack of IT.
- This can be uncomfortable, but the idea is to fix things,
and not dwelling on history and finger-pointing. Negative
energies have no place in this exercise.
- Also important to prioritise (see below) so you are not wasting
time on issues of low importance.
- Are external factors, what is happening in your environment that
you could capitalise on.
- An example is a problem with another radio station or media, such
as upheaval during ownership difficulties or changes.
- Beyond media look for changing demographics in your area, lifestyle
trends, seasonal influences, new technologies being adopted, and new
politics, regulations and economics.
- Think about the impact and timing of any trends.
- The reverse of opportunities - what in the environment could impact
negatively on your station, what you are trying to do? Think of it in
terms of size of impact and timing, when it may occur.
- For a community radio station this could include television, Korean
dramas on television, the internet and new FM commercial radios.
Think of developments that may affect your audience, staff and
support base including advertisers.
How do we use this data?
Firstly go through the 4 lists and prioritise (define what is more
important), even just a rough sort of the most important to least
important. In a meeting you might ask your colleagues at the station
to nominate their top 3 in each area (box) and then you concentrate on the
most voted items.
It is vital to carefully consider what you have collected about your
situation, and discuss as a group the following:
- Strengths: that you need to maintain and grow.
- Weaknesses: which fixes will have the most impact, short and
- Opportunities: which have the most potential, and are practical to
exploit? As example, for a community radio the advent of Facebook
is one such opportunity that can be useful.
- Threats: which are the most immediate, and which are just over the
The next task is where you look
for actionable relationships between
items in the 4 boxes. As example,
- Which opportunities best match your strengths? High priority for
action to remain a leader or strong in your area.
- If there's a great opportunity which fits your direction, but
you're weak in that area, as example say folk music, then you need to
re-think about your resources.
- A threat (or external limitation) is best addressed with a strength
but if it's directly linked to a weakness (as example, if you are a
shortwave broadcaster facing new FM licencees) then you have a major
problem to address.
- In the minds of your listeners do your strong points (ideally
tested as important to them) outweigh your weak points?
Many community radios do not have a marketing plan and do not conduct
and act on regular (and honest) situation analyses.
That largely explains why many radios struggle to deliver consistently for
the communities they serve. But these tools can help them overcome
and improve their situation.
What questions and issues do you have about analysing or marketing planning
for your community station? Simply contact us with your story (or question).
If you like this topic and are involved in media especially a radio
station you may also like our unique marketing book Participative Marketing for Local Radio, click here to read about it.