Stakeholder Engagement

Communicating with your stakeholders and community of interest is vital to ensure you are representing them in both programming and operations.

As a program director, manager or member of the programming committee, the challenge is to come up with a schedule that maximises your audience while ensuring that the station serves its purpose.

It’s very tempting to go with a format that will simply maximise the audience throughout the day. But serving your community is not strictly a numbers game, so having a large audience doesn’t automatically mean you are serving your whole community – indeed, it can even mean that you are excluding large parts of your community.

Stakeholder Engagement

Good two-way communication to and from the board, which is transparent and provides clarity, is often key to effective stakeholder engagement. The Australian Institute of Company Directors have put together some tips.

Here are some more mechanisms that you might use for receiving input from your community. 

Audience and Broader Community Surveys

When getting input from your community it’s important to not just look at your audience. It’s as important to know why people listen as it is to know why people do not. But we know that surveying can often be expensive and difficult! We have developed the Station Community Engagement Survey in consultation with members of the sector to help you easily reach your community, and to get feedback to use in programming, planning, training and in your licence renewal with the ACMA!

Forums or Focus Groups

Members of your community can be invited to participate in your program management decisions (by being on the committee or through some other mechanism).

Reviewing statistical information about the make up of the community in your licence area (age, ethnic groups etc...).

Whatever methods you use to monitor your community’s needs, it needs to be demonstrable. In other words, you will need to keep some form of evidence, eg: collections of surveys, program committee minutes, a feedback log – whatever is appropriate. By keeping these records, you will not only improve your service to your community interest, you will also be able to demonstrate that you are accountable to your community at licence renewal time.

As well as monitoring your community’s needs, it is also important to continually reflect on the stations aims and objectives – Why does it exist? Who is it serving? What is it aiming to do?

The answers to those questions can generally be found in your station’s constitution, your licence and your original licence application and should be reflected in your programming policies and decision making, your program application forms. Program reviews and evaluations should all ask broadcasters to revisit these aims and objectives and consider how their program meets them. Ultimately the aims and objectives of your station should be reflected in each and every program on air.

The “station’s sound” is the third layer of programming which is important in attracting and holding audiences, but also in reflecting (and attracting) your community interest. The term “station’s sound” is rather vague, but if you were asked to identify a station’s “overall sound”, you can take a guess at the age group or market that is being targeted with even the most basic listening. It may be the station’s ID s and music which determine this. For example, you can make a station sound young or old by changing this content. It may be that your station doesn’t think actively about its overall “sound” and is sending out unintended messages to potential audiences.

It’s likely that by trying to reach out to your full community interest, you’ll end up with a range of vastly different programs which don’t necessarily sound like they belong together. But giving some consideration to the overall sound of the station can help to tie them all together and give a clear picture of ‘who you are’. You need to recognise that a station “sound” should also reflect the community of interest. If the station is for everybody, then make sure that the station IDs and announcements, along with the mix of music, reflect this.

Thanks to the Community Media Training Organisation for this resource.