With all of the tragic events that have occurred recently, I’ve witnessed many folks, including radio accounts, change their social media profile & banner pics to reflect their sadness. Obviously, radio does a good job at acknowledging topical events thru special audio production. But now with our online and streaming assets, radio is just as much a visual medium as it is an audio one. So, are you as an imaging person or programmer conscious of making sure your imaging and images match?
Promotions consultant Paige Neinaber refers to it as “Googlizing”. Google will often change their logo with a “Google Doodle” to reflect something topical, for instance, as I write this piece, their header honors the 156th birthday of Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Hansen, who invented the Nansen Passport -- a document that allowed refugees to find new homes during World War I.
When I was the CSD at CBS Radio in Pittsburgh, I always wanted to be sure what I had on the air matched what was on the station website homepage, especially when it came to contesting information. If my promo included a call-to-action that sent listeners to the website, that information better be on the site before I put the promo on the air.
Toward the end of my tenure there as social media content needs began to increase, I took on some of the responsibilities of creating the graphics that went with contesting and other imaging initiatives. This was a way that I could increase my value to the station as more than just an audio producer as well as relieve some of the pressure on our webmaster who had the responsibilities of maintaining the graphic content our properties cluster-wide.
One of the first topical items we created for social media that mirrored an imaging piece was when a local police officer was killed in the line of duty in our city of license. I created a quick audio piece informing our listeners what had happened and about the fund-raising effort we were organizing for the officer’s family. In addition, our webmaster created this simple graphic that became our station’s Facebook profile pic. Many of our listeners began to replace their profile pictures with this in honor of Officer Kotecki, especially within the community he served.
Recently I read a post on a radio Facebook group that criticized a station for adding its logo to a memorial graphic for a fallen officer. Many comments described it as being 'tacky' and perhaps the execution was, but the sentiment was in the right place. After all, when we create audio messages in times of sorrow or tragedy, we still identify the station, but the production and delivery of the imaging talent reflects the somber tone of the piece. In a visual sense, making the station logo less prominent by reducing its size or opacity might have helped. One my have even changed the logo colors to black & white and added a black "armband" to reflect the brand's support and condolences to the community at large.
Personally, I've made creating a companion social media graphic part of my routine in both good times and bad. Whatever Topic A was that had the market a flutter, that’s what I put together for social media: hockey team making a Stanley Cup playoff run, 9/11 10th anniversary, the deaths of huge format stars like Prince and Tom Petty or simply reflecting a major holiday. Some will continue to think this comes across as opportunistic, but when done correctly, you’re empathizing with the audience and showing that you are echoing what they’re feeling. That interaction is truly what social media is all about and the immediacy of your imaging and images reaching that audience is truly what radio is all about.