Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

Recently I had a chat with a market manager for a radio group who described to me some of the successes they had in developing online content, specifically online streaming content. Content that was unique to this market and enjoyed some particular content advantages that this group had over others.

Those initiatives are now dead.

Why?

Not because they didn’t work.

But because they clashed with the centralized corporate-driven agenda that dictated what the officially sanctioned initiative would be, and that anything else would be considered a drain and a distraction and would be verboten.


This is a cautionary tale.

And its implications, I think, are clear:

If you, Mr. Broadcaster, are to compete on a local basis then you need to leverage your local advantages. That doesn’t mean you can’t centralize many efforts of your digital effort. Obviously you must. Rather, it means that you should “let a thousand flowers bloom.” In every one of your markets a certain number of experiments should not only be encouraged, they should be demanded.

This allows good ideas to bubble-up from the bottom rather than all ideas being forced down from the top in some kind of central plan reminiscent of the Soviet Union.

Let these flowers bloom, then assess what’s working and what isn’t. No doubt, you’ll discover some ingenious applications and some crazy-popular and successful digital elements.

You will, in other words, be smarter, more profitable, and more responsive both to your markets and to the employees who work their butts off for you in them.

The needs of the broadcast group do not trump the needs of the audience. That’s putting the cart way before the horse.

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