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Great ratings for your network with Melyn Community Action

Read an extract from Watch Your Audience Grow

Program Director: "At the moment, I'm afraid we're just slinging out frisbees of entertainment at our audience. If we could start a dialogue with our audience - listen to what matters to them and act on that information - they'd feel a greater sense of ownership and loyalty. They might even feel that - if they're not tuned into us - they might miss something useful..."

Listen: give your audience a voice and listen to that voice

Upgrade the audience-to-network communication by dedicating effort to inviting, listening to and acting on feedback:

1.on air: add an element to programs where you elicit suggestions from the audience on issues that really matter to them air: use promotional events and leaflets to get to people within your transmission service area who don't yet tune into your network

Plan: find out which issues affect your audience and prioritise

You won't be able to tackle all the issues, so get together a group of people to look at all suggestions. It's also a good idea to work out some written guidelines stating what your network's social action project will and won't do. (One British network that didn't do this put out an appeal on behalf of an older person who wanted a companion. The respondent violently attacked the woman.)

When you've chosen the hot issues, map out your coming year and then start making contacts with potential sponsors and with organisations already working in the various fields in the community. Form partnerships.

What's the best way to tackle each issue? Choose between:

1.theme week, (e.g. National Asthma Week). Go for about 6 - 12 in a year

2.daily feature, (e.g. Environment Watch). A mini-program that airs at the same time(s) each day, (e.g. World Aids Day). No more than one in a month.

You'll also need to look at how best to build up the publicity in the time leading up to each program. How will you support your program? (Will you have experts at the end of the phone or use a referral system? Will your audience be able to write for information packs through the mail? How about drop-in centres around your broadcast area, offering advice, information and meetings?)

Produce: make independent, entertaining, high quality programs focused on information your audience has asked for and will find valuable.

Forget the old image of social action broadcasting. Ten minute interviews about acne are out:

1.position your social action output in your stop clocks/ad breaks

2.aim for thirty second programs bumpered by tags crediting sponsors/partners and sponsors' ads

3.offer an information/helpline service via phone and mail

4.produce thirty second tasters to play during the build-up to the program. Tag tasters with credits/ads too

As well as bringing you great ratings, your social action project will enable you to achieve your goal:

To make available information that can improve your audience's quality of life.

"I know there's
an untapped source of money out there..."
"I want to
add value to my network's brand."

(Take me back to The Program Director's Three Wishes.)

(Take me back to
Melyn Media.)

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