Benchmarks are features that provide a sense of familiarity for listeners according to Helen Thomas (Head of BBC Radio 2). It’s got to fit the station strategy, and well-performed, benchmarks can strengthen station and listener relationships says Anna Rastner (Content Director at Bauer Media Sweden).
Getting benchmarks wrong can also be catastrophic says Liam Thompson (Founder at Liam Thompson Consulting). They are key habit building moments for listeners and failing to get them correct could cause listeners to turn off.
Most benchmarks happen daily; weekly benchmarks don’t feel long-term and can sometimes fail to galvanise listener attention. BBC Radio 2’s Piano Room, where musicians play on Elton John’s piano sitting in their greenroom is a key example of a good, creative benchmark that suits the audience. It was so successful, they launched Piano Room Month, akin to BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge.
Being where listeners are is an important factor to get benchmark interaction. Heart’s syndicated breakfast programme has a feature called First Caller of The Day where listeners call in with personal news, bringing them into the radio world. But that’s just one type of benchmark. There are also music benchmarks, such as BBC Radio 1’s 10 Minute Takeover, which is effectively listener requests repackaged.
Whatever it is you decide to do, always ask yourself why says Anna. Why is the benchmark important for your listener? Why is this benchmark the correct one? And how do you take this benchmark out to other people; is it digital-first and can you repurpose your content? Benchmarks always start with the audience and what you’re attempting to do for them.