623-00712158Being labeled a Subject Matter Expert is no easy thing. There are tons of people out there who THINK they know what they’re talking about, but really don’t. And then you have some who skate by because a small group of individuals have pledged their undying allegiance to these so called experts who may only know slightly more than those who follow them. But if you’re an up and comer in your career, it is vital that you not only know your stuff, but also have the masses tout your praises. What better way to build on your brand than to create and host your own talk radio show?

Internet radio is exploding. Once thought a fad, it has become a hot way for people to get their message out. I admit, it took me well over a year to take the plunge. But now that I have, I absolutely love it. Terrestrial radio is plagued with problems but hopefully won’t go away. But it is much harder to get a spot on traditional radio than on Internet radio. Internet radio plays by a different set of rules and anyone with a message to share can host their own show. How successful it is depends on how well you do and how much you promote it. Let’s face it, everyone isn’t an articulate speaker or facilitator. I myself struggle at times, but I’m learning my way and finding my confidence. My message always seems to resonate with my audience and interaction between the guests and audience has been the key to much success so far.

It took me a while to decide what my “hook” or expertise was really in. I’m good at a lot of things, great at some things, and phenomenal at a handful of things. For me, networking and professional development have been my strongest messages. Those are the foundations of my shows regardless of the topic of the day. I am always sure to enhance my own knowledge by bringing on guests who compliment that or are strong where I am deficient. That always makes for a good show. But it takes more than just having an angle or something to talk about. What’s your motivation for wanting to start a show? Are you looking for a job? Do you want to build your credibility in your industry as a subject matter expert? Or do you just want to have a show just because you love to talk and have lots to say? All of these motivations are perfectly fine, if you have a plan in place and focus on delivering a professional, polished message. In order to successfully add talk radio to your brand, you have to do a few things.

  1. Develop a plan. What is your expertise and how will you share it? What makes you an expert at this? How much time will you devote to the show (and its planning)? What kind of guests will you invite? How will you market and promote the show? Think of it in terms of a business. While it may or may not be for pay, you still need to have a solid plan in place. After all, this will be part of your brand.
  2. To have a show you need to have a platform. Start by signing up for an account at one of the internet radio stations such as Blog Talk Radio or Live 365. Once you sign up, explore the site and get a feel for how the shows are formatted and what types of content is out there. It is overwhelming at first because there are so many different shows (and types) out there. Just focus on your “competition” and see how they differ (or in some cases are exactly the same).
  3. Create the format for your show. Do you want it to be panel discussions, editorial, open discussion with callers? Do you want the audience to participate in live calls or the chat room? Will your guests respond to questions or will you? Or will you just fly solo and give your own commentary? How long will your show be? How often will you host your show? What will you do to fill in for the days you can’t do the show? Will there be replays available of all shows? Will you have or want a co-host at some point? These are all very important questions to ask and they fit directly in with you plan.
  4. Decide on content. What are the topics people are talking about (or should be talking about)? Can you objectively discuss the issues from all sides? Can you agree to healthy disagreement without holding grudges or getting into screaming matches? Are you looking for just some lighthearted fun content? Are you well versed in these topics? Create your program based upon your strengths. You can also benefit by covering some content that’s not in your area of expertise and let your guests share their knowledge. It can be a learning experience for you and your audience and help to boost your expertise. Once you decide on the direction of the show, make sure you stick to it as much as possible, making the occasional exception once in a blue moon to shake things up and deviate from the norm. For example, my show is for the upwardly mobile professional woman. I recently had a “Man Show” where I celebrated the accomplishments of some awesome fellas. It was very much appreciated by my listeners.
  5. Get an intern or a researcher to help you. Planning the shows is the easy part. Investigating and rounding up guests can be the hard part. You can use sites like Help a Reporter Out (HARO- www.helpareporterout.com) to line up guests. But you must be sure to go out and get to know who’s out there on your own. Research is your best friend. You don’t want to abuse your query rights by constantly going back to the same well! Be prepared though, once you submit a query, your inbox will blow up! Don’t rely on HARO as your sole source. Social media, Google searches, news articles, conferences, books, etc will all give you inspiration to find guests. Make it interesting. A researcher or intern can help you sort through all of the clutter to find those gem guests. Make sure your researcher or intern is well versed in the art of researching. They should not only understand your show, but know you well enough to know what type of people would fit into a given show. They are there so you can focus on the show and other things while they sort through and get you the best guests possible. Don’t get it twisted though, they are a very vital part of your team. Treat them with respect.
  6. Screen guests BEFORE the show. You don’t want to get on live and your guests are dull or boring. By the same token, you don’t want to have someone explosive and commandeering on the show that’ll cut off other guests and worse, you. Make sure you dictate the flow and pace of your show. Your facilitation skills will grow as you host more shows. You must be able to transition from topic to topic, guest to guest and make sure the conversation flows naturally. If you have guests that talk over you and ignore your cues to wind down or transition, this could harm your credibility. So make sure you are always in command of your show and the flow. And while we’re on the subject, learn to manage callers. Know when to mute or disconnect a caller. Again, you must maintain control over the tone and pace of your show. Publish a call in guideline for people to read in a prominent place on your website or show site. If you have to, reaffirm the call in rules during the show.
  7. Promote, promote, promote! I can’t stress this enough. Some sites allow you to cross promote (such as Facebook and Twitter). But that’s not enough. You have to build a base and to do that you must promote the show. Send out email to friends, clients, customers, colleagues, etc. Ask them to listen to the show and pass along the word. Send out a press release to relevant media outlets announcing your show. Let them know the theme, premise, target audience and format of your show as well as the logistics (times/days). Tap into social media as much as possible to promote it. You can announce the topic and/or guests to see if that draws people in. Once you have a few shows under your belt and you’ve urged people to vote your show as a best or favorite show, apply to have the show put on iTunes. That gives you a little more credibility. My show ended up on iTunes and I have my listeners to thank for that. I had no idea that people were requesting or submitting my show to iTunes to be picked up. I am forever grateful. Make the podcast of the show available for easy download. Blog Talk Radio makes your show available about 20-30 minutes after you sign off the show. Let people know that they can find it there.
  8. Once you have some great shows under your belt, seek out advertisers. It’s not an easy task and they’ll want to see a track record. Be sure to keep track of the number of listens, audience and hits your show gets. You may also throw in transcripts from the chat room if available. Some services have tracking services included. If not, find out how you can track the stats. And make sure you approach appropriate advertisers and be armed with the facts!
  9. Invest in an upgrade. In the beginning, you’ll be a little green. You may want to upgrade to a paid service to edit your show to eliminate awkward pauses and the uhs and ums. You’re goal is to sound as professional as possible. Whatever you choose, you must have a great personality and it has to shine through in your broadcast. Nobody wants to hear a monotone speaker reading lines or reciting facts. Make it fun. This is your chance to bring out your shining personality (in a professional way) and make a lasting impression. So in addition to upgrading service, upgrade your personality and attitude as well. You have to want to make it interesting. While your show may be housed on a site like Blog Talk Radio, be sure to secure your domain. If you get the title of your show as a domain, if you get to a point where you move beyond internet radio and go mainstream, your listeners won’t have to search you out. They will already have all the information they need right there on your website. Plus it helps with branding and gives you flexibility (and most importantly ownership).
  10. Put your show on your resume, business cards, CV, website, bio, etc. If you want maximum exposure, be sure to include the show on your social networking profiles as well. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just the name of the show, where it is (station, online, etc), schedule and theme of the show. If you write for a publication, be sure to include your show in your mini-bio or credits. Remember, the more eyes that see you have a show, the more ears you’ll get to listen. Then tailor your format accordingly.

Final Tips & Warnings

* Invest in editing features so you can put forth polished content.
* Make sure your guests are engaging. Talk to them before the show to get a feel of their personality and comfort levels.
* Publicize your show as often as you can to draw an audience.
* Ask people to vote for your show each time they listen.
* Ask people to recommend others to listen to your show.
* Decide if you have a strong enough message and the determination to make a show work.
* Reserve the domain for your show and build a separate website.
* Place copyright notices on your site.
* Get a logo developed for the show so you can prominently display it everywhere.
* Don’t book boring guests.
* Keep your times and days consistent. If you keep switching up on them, you’ll lose listeners.
* Don’t pay for premium features if you don’t have to. You can get by with the free service.
* Don’t allow guests (or callers) to commandeer your show! If you lose control you’re message will get lost.
* Don’t be a boring host/hostess. Get some personality and make sure it shines through each show. Otherwise you’ll lose listeners.
* Have fun with it! if it works, it works. If not, then at least you had a fun ride.

As always, your brand will consist of multiple components. Remember that a radio show is only a mere portion of your branding tools. Don’t use it a a substitute for a full comprehensive set of tools. You should never rely on one method to get your point across or showcase your expertise. If used as part of a solid branding plan, your mission will be branding accomplished. Be sure to tune in to my show Views From the Top each Monday and Friday and 9AM EST (and yes, I’m on iTunes).

Hope these tips help.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham