WRITING FOR SPECIFICS VS GENERICS
This past week I marked the one year anniversary of my first SWEEPER OF THE DAY post. What started out as a way of sharing my back catalog of imaging material to give back to the industry and help jumpstart creativity among producers & programmers has turned into an exercise in helping to keep my writing skills strong. However, the fresher material I was putting out didn't have quite the same feel as my earlier work for the stations I imaged in Pittsburgh at CBS Radio. Then, it hit me. I was writing generically as opposed to specifically.
You see, over my tenure as the CSD for WDSY & WBZZ in Pittsburgh, I'd developed a writing strategy for imaging. Everything I wrote did had to direct the message to one or more of these specific targets: person, place and/or time. But without a specific person to speak to or a specific place to reference, all I was left with was time: seasons, holidays, weekdays, weekends, dayparts, etc. That material was great, but the rest of the work was lacking all of the color and dimension it had when I had a specific station to write for.
When I was working for CBS Radio in Pittsburgh, targeting the people helped make Y108 feel like it was one of the gang. People like people who are (or appear to be) just like them. I wrote for these people by reflecting the experiences and passions that they had for the music, the artists and the city.
When it came to place, Pittsburgh's landmarks: its rivers, bridges, congested roadways and tunnels, as well as the sports teams and climate all were fodder for topical imaging that put the Y108 brand front and center in minds of the audience as a Pittsburgh station. Now, it did help immensely that I was born and raised in this area, so my familiarity with all of the local idiosyncrasies made it very easy. Not so much when I tried to pick a dot on a map and write imaging that was just a colorful and relatable to that place.
When it comes to incorporating time into your imaging, topical things based on the seasons, the holidays or current events can be woven around the brand Thinking about what is "Topic A" in the news is a great place to start. "Topic A" could be the weather, an upcoming holiday, an election, a big game or concert...whatever is happening at that moment that is occupying the collective consciousness of the audience. That'll do wonders for keeping your brand current and fuel the image that your station is the one with "its finger on the pulse" as opposed to one that is full of generic statements about the music with name and position mentions between every song.
Sure, you'll still need to produce things that reflect the position of the program like "Y108 Plays Pittsburgh's New Hit Country", but when you make additional elements relatable to one or more of these targets, it becomes more colorful, more dimensional and thus, stands out amongst the crowd. Isn't that what we're trying to accomplish anyway?