ARN content chief says network is taking a ‘Jimmy Fallon Tonight’ approach to star interviews

(l-r) Julie Duff, Duncan Campbell, Alyx Gorman, David Hovenden

(l-r) Julie Duff, Duncan Campbell, Alyx Gorman, David Hovenden

The Australian Radio Network’s content director has urged management and PR representatives to give shows more access to talent before interviews, after admitting he was forced to write a letter of apology to rapper Nicki Minaj’s management after a recent interview with Kyle and Jackie O on KiisFM.

Speaking at a Networx Sydney event Duncan Campbell said it was “no longer enough to have stock standard interviewers” and said the network was embracing a “Jimmy Fallon Tonight show” approach by going beyond the standard interviews, and getting talent to do more fun and engaging things, but admitted “we find that tends to be a bit of a barrier at times getting through PR to the artist”.

The issue of advertisers being given extra attention editorially was also raised by the audience of mostly PRs and publicists, with fellow panelist and B&T editor-in-chief David Hovenden admitting if a press release comes in from an advertiser “then I feel morally obliged to at least look at your story seriously.”

He added: “We don’t get much commercial support, any help is appreciated and you’re always close to our hearts.” 

During the conversation about paid-for content, which takes one form as native advertising, editor of Mamamia network’s new beauty vertical The Glow Alyx Gorman said they do a lot of native pieces, adding: “If you come to us as a story that we don’t think will get up, but have some money to spend we can figure out a story that will work for our readers in the form of native content.”

Hovenden quipped: “It’s a great model though – swipe your credit card here if you want to get your press release up.”

Another panelist, Julie Duff the content director of online health video creator HealthyMeTV, said they always looked for the extra value collaborations could bring to them, especially new platforms and audiences they could serve their content to.

However, Campbell said ARN’s editorial policies meant “ad spend would not guarantee editorial on radio” adding: “Even if the content was on target ad spend will not get editorial on air.”

Elaborating on the issues with Minaj during the interview with Sydney’s KiisFM in July Campbell added: “We struggled getting thought to Nicky Minaj the other day. We wanted her to do something different and funny in the ilk of the Kyle and Jackie O humour. We weren’t getting any success with the publicist or management so we just did it on the air.

“Nicki was very professional, didn’t quite know what was going on I think, but the impact behind the scenes was I had to write and apology letter to her management in New York. All that could have been avoided if we were able to get some dialogue going with the talent and have some fun, which is what we’re after, something different we can make something of.”

The interview:

Asked about the demographic for The Glow Gorman said: “It’s a psychographic not a demographic. We’re going after any woman with hair and a face. Any woman who’s in the mindset she wants to improve herself, and focusses on her fitness and what she puts on her hair and face. We create content for all different types of age groups.

She added: “We Predicted when we launched we’d be getting around 6,000 unique browsers a day, but in our first week we got 21,000 and I think we’re going to keep growing exponentially from there.”

Hovenden  told the audience the reason for the recent relaunch of the private equity-owned Cirrus Media print magazine and website for the marketing trade magazine was as a point of differentiation in the marketing and media trade publication space as it was struggling to make money, adding: “We got cut off from the rest of the company, we are running our own show and that’s it.

“Everything had been disrupted. Mumbrella had driven a hole right through the middle of us, and Adnews was our rival in print and (the owner) James Yaffa seems to have endless amounts of money to run things at a loss, so go figure.”

He said the site now had a focus on “things people will talk about and share” and said it had previously “stopped talking to its audience”. “We’ve got advertising media and marketing people,” he added. “They’re probably young and boho into fashion and trendy things and we were using fat middle aged men in suits saying boring things. So we did a feature on legendary industry beards in the first edition.”

Explaining the new website model, which allows PRs to directly upload their releases, Hovenden said the site was now 66 per cent user generated content, adding these were “transactional stories” like account wins which “no-one gives a fuck about”. He also said “as a rule” its editorial stories get twice as much traffic as the press releases.

Alex Hayes

Disclaimer: Alex Hayes is a former editor of B&T


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