Not long ago, radio was supposedly dead. As an active YouGov
member, I’d been getting survey after survey asking me about my radio listening
behaviour. Clearly, something was afoot, and it made me feel uneasy.
I’d originally trained as a broadcast journalist, discovering quickly, that I preferred the relaxed studio atmosphere, and the ability to work with voice and sound much more to having a camera lens pointing right at me. For all its merits, TV wasn’t for me; live radio was my thing, and it soon became my passion. The power sound-led communication yielded over its audience was undeniable: I found that people genuinely listened and interacted, were more intent, and more attentive. Don’t get me wrong: I love film. But could you honestly deny that you’ve never been swayed so much by the imagery of a documentary or feature that you completely forgot to listen? Hand on heart, I couldn’t.
When I was asked to join the Csuite Podcast for their latest
edition “How To Create
Award-Winning Corporate Content 2019”, I was delighted. DRPG had just won
several awards at the Communicate Corporate Content Awards 2019, for our mental
health campaign for Jaguar Land Rover and brand campaign for taxi company, Gett;
I was clearly deemed qualified to talk about what had made these campaigns –
that had already won numerous international awards – such a success with their
audiences. And I was back in my passion zone.
Having worked in film for a long time now, I was a little bit dubious about how to aptly represent these two film-led campaigns by sound only - to be swiftly reminded of the power of the voice. “Mr Podcast” Russell Goldsmith, the man behind the successful Csuite series, had spoken to me upfront about what he wanted to get out of it, and what had struck him specifically about the JLR Mental Health Campaign. As testimony, he selected a clip of the voice of one of our three protagonists, Matt, talking about his breakdown, to be played during the podcast interview. Intriguingly, Russell chose exactly the same clip I would have chosen – great radio minds clearly think alike!
I was looking
forward to the show’s recording in one of Soho’s finest radio studios. That
familiar ambience, sitting down with my fellow podcasters, headphones on and
the mic in front of me. It felt so familiar and I was excited as I did the
sound check: “One, two, test, I took the train from Birmingham this morning,
test, one, two...” Then we started and after a few minutes, it was my turn.
“Dagmar, what was the objective behind the JLR mental health campaign, and what
made it so successful?”
Having described the campaign strategy, Russell asked the engineer to play in the sound clip. I’d seen the JLR films many times but hearing only Matt’s voice proved almost even more powerful; it gave the whole piece another dimension, and I found the nuances in his voice and the natural sounds surrounding him incredibly poignant. At the end of the one-minute clip, a collective gasp filled the studio. We all chipped in, remarking on the sincerity of Matt’s words, amplified by the non-omitted pauses, the breaking and trembling of his voice. We had all listened intently, and all agreed that it’s this that makes a great campaign, a great film, a great story: sincerity and authenticity. And nothing gets this across better than sound: you may be able to put a false smile on for the camera, but you cannot fake your tone easily.
"The power sound-led communication yielded over its audience was undeniable: I found that people genuinely listened and interacted, were more intent, and more attentive."
This blog is not really about me being back in my element in
that radio studio, there is a more significant learning here: audio as a medium
is incredibly powerful and we need to recognise that more; because your
audience wants to be connected; because connectivity is not essential; because
sound is more authentic; because sound is a more “easy, on the go” medium than
film or the written word; and finally, because duration actually doesn’t matter.
We’re so obsessed with creating films that work at 30, 45 or 60 seconds, it’s liberating
to know there can still be successful, targeted communication that’s 30 minutes
or more. In fact, many podcasts are made to fit the duration of the average
commute, as people listen on their mobile devices whilst standing on a packed
So, “radio” is not dead. Far from it. It’s found its new calling. Corporate communicators still need to do more to fully harness the power that lies therein and use it strategically for their comms mix: you know your audience, you target your communication accordingly, and they will listen! I for one, am sold. And if you want to know more, feel free to lend me your ear.
If you would like to listen to the podcast, click here.
By Dagmar Mackett - Director of Video