May 17, 2020


SMW employees


This is one of the basic values iHeartMedia The aim is to address connection, community and experience with their programming. When she saw a tweet from a virtual prom star who raved about the fact that she was added to a new group chat at the end of the night, she had to appoint her director of digital programming in Los Angeles Michelle Lin feel well.

"[We're trying to make it] so we don't miss out on celebrating in the community," Lin said as she talked about the massive task of rethinking events and engagement after COVID-19. Next Netbase Quid’S Robyn LindarsLin told # SMWONE participants what it was like to redefine the role of radio stations in the community in a digital space.

Here are the key findings and insights:

  • Don't get dark because you can't find a way to connect
  • The expansion of important information is the key to building online communities
  • Dats is important to adapt thoughtfully and responsibly

Data driven adjustment

In Los Angeles, where local accommodation orders have recently been extended to late summer, Lin had to concentrate her team's digital work to achieve four goals:

  • Providing daily news, entertainment, discussion and interaction;
  • Show sensitivity to the audience and offer comfort;
  • Fill gaps that have emerged after the pandemic; and
  • Create consistent and sponsored content that encourages engagement.

These are big tasks to be accomplished while a team accustomed to personal engagement and collaboration works from home, but it was a challenge that Lin's previous life as a biologist prepared her for. "Whether it's biology or entertainment, data is important." With the data from NetbaseQuids Brand Pulse, she was able to adjust thoughtfully.

From chaos to community building

Lin cited a comparison of commonly used terms from the iHeart LA target group and pointed to a clear shift from fear and chaos to adaptation and community. The tone and scope of programming are heavily dependent on how people post online. "This," she said, referring to the lock and its impact on daily life, "is becoming normal in a way." This has become our life until it is no longer so. "In this sense, the reach went from expanding the most important information about finding ways for listeners to collect online. Your key question: What is the need and how can we meet it?

They filled it with virtual interviews to replace the frequent studio interviews that would take place under normal circumstances, created happy hours and game nights to meet listeners where they quickly learn to congregate, and used existing talent to help them Brand DJ mixes to create Instagram a la DJ DNice. Manageable success in these areas paved the way for great success in programming efforts.

Live in your living room: The concert for America and Virtual Prom

On April 6, FOX broadcast iHeart Radio's Living Room Concerts for America, one of the first efforts to create a nationwide live program – and has increased confidence in countless other offerings from other networks. The Lim team helped bring this event to life, not only to replace the normally personal iHeart Awards, but also as a heartfelt opportunity to raise funds for Feeding America and the First Responders Children’s Fund. The success of this event prompted her to look for opportunities for similar event programming at the local level.

The result? 102.7s KIIS Virtual Prom, which takes place under #KIISVirtualProm and includes appearances by Dillon Francis, Joe Jonas, Lewis Capaldi and host Ryan Seacrest. The key figures of this event were encouraging: over 2000 social contributions, almost 34,000 engagements and 212 million potential impressions. The very positive response to the event gives Lim and her team hope that later efforts, including an upcoming event to celebrate Pride's 50th anniversary, will generate a dedicated and grateful audience.

Both Lim and Lindars are encouraged by what comes from paying close attention to these findings. And both insist that, although sometimes intimidating, these types of virtual events are worth trying. "The worst thing would be not to hold a virtual event," said Lim. "Don't get dark because you can't find a way to connect. Just try." As we learned at the session from the KIIS prom tweet, which shows a connection that was made in an otherwise lonely time, you never know who could be doing something invaluable through your efforts.

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