Training and revenue generation
Generating revenue through training
We’ve looked at different funding streams you could attract through delivering training. But you could also generate revenue directly from training. This page will explore several options for doing so.
In the video below, Shane Carey of Reprezent discusses what makes community radio an appealing activity in which to participate, and hence to fund.
Do your research
The first step is to assess what people and organisations in your area (or further afield, if you or they can travel) would want, and determine their capacity to pay for it. This calls for a process as with around the development of any service or product: doing some market research. Obviously, the more people you talk to, and the more depth you go into, the better you will be able to determine the need for training, and the ‘gap’ that you may be able to fill. One way of getting feedback from a large number of people is to undertake a survey – which can be carried out on the street, or via a range of online tools (e.g. Survey Monkey or Google Drive). Alternatively, this research may involve a number of conversations with people whom you already work with, or with people who you think may be interested in what you have to offer. One-to-one conversations or interviews may be useful to elicit thoughtful, personal feedback; and focus groups can be a good way of including more shy participants, or perhaps observing group dynamics (thinking about confidence or team-building work).
Make connections; be necessary
One of the key pieces of advice given to community radio stations by the great Zane Ibrahim (RIP) was to “be necessary”. This has to be a sure fire way of making the business case for your station – ensuring that you are a vital part of the community, an organisation that can’t be done away with.
Christine Cox, business development manager with ALLFM, says that business development for a community radio station is really about community development. The key is to make as many connections with people in the community as possible, and find out who is interested in your work. Crucially, she adds, your task should be to identify the needs of the community, and figure out how you can meet those needs. As she says, “you should know everything that’s going on in your local area, and you should be connected to everybody in your local area, and beyond”, and that it’s about “bringing all of the community through these doors”.
In the videos below, she reiterates Zane Ibrahim’s point: that in order to get people to work with you, you need to demonstrate that “you matter” – you are “important” to the community, which consequently reinforces to external parties that they need to work with you. The first step, she advises, is to ask: “what do you want to achieve?” – and to shape your activity, and target funding/revenue, around your answer to this question.
What to offer
What training you will offer will depend on your capacity as an organisation, and on what people want, or may want (see previous section). But the following are some ideas for areas you could cover.
Media production: This is the bread and butter of community radio training – e.g., making radio, conducting interviews, driving a desk, editing audio, engaging an audience, etc. On the basis of your research, you could identify what length, depth and level of course would suit your target trainees. Perhaps, it could be held one afternoon or evening per week for six weeks, or perhaps it could take place during an intensive weekend.
Media skills: Distinct from media production, this could be targeted at helping people engage with the media more effectively. This may cover things like: how to speak clearly in an interview, how to communicate effectively, or how to engage with a (particular) audience. Again, the level, length etc of the course will depend on target trainees. You could pitch it to a wide range of people, including people you might not usually work with – for example, local politicians might benefit from the community-rooted perspective you have, which may help them hone their message, and perhaps even shape their agenda.
Example: Wythenshawe FM run a ‘Media Training’ course, aimed at managers, along the lines of the above. This is a 2-3 hour session, and costs £250. http://www.wfmradio.org/obs-projects
IT skills: As an organisation which makes use of a range of technologies, your community radio station is well-placed to deliver a range of IT courses. Again, depending on need, demand, and capacity, this could cover skills from basic IT literacy – such as word processing, file management, simple graphics, using email, etc – to more advanced skills like using Photoshop, video editing, and programming/coding.
Team building: Making radio is a great focal point for bringing people together on an activity which is both fun and intensive! Making a piece of radio – whether live or as a package – requires people to work together, under pressure, with a definite product at the end. If the result is being broadcast – which, again, is one of the USPs of community radio – it adds that extra element of pressure to the activity: to make something that is good enough to be listened to by your peers and others in your community. Teamwork is an essential life and work skill, so you could market these courses to a range of organisations and individuals, according to their needs and budgets. Again, doing research will be helpful to determine what challenges local organisations face, and how your training could help them improve their working environment.
It is worth noting here that a lot of businesses have sometimes quite substantial budgets for team-building activities.
Community reporter: Community reporter training is a programme to give people the skills to report on local issues – covering various aspects of media production, and responsible reporting. To deliver this training (as badged by the Institute of Community Reporters http://peoplesvoicemedia.co.uk/join-network ), you need to become a social licensee, at which point you can deliver this training. The full programme is delivered over 12 full-day sessions, and the ‘train the trainer’ programme is an intensive three day course. All teaching materials are provided by the ICR.
The following short video gives an introduction to the Institute of Community Reporters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZy-IdGpr3c
Clarifying your offer – what will the course entail?
The above section may have sparked some ideas for identifying your offer – or you may have other ideas up your sleeve.
You’ll need to identify not only the subject of the course (and hence its content), but also the way it will be run. Will it be confined to small groups (say, 3-5 people) or open to larger ones (over 7)? Will it require lots of close supervision; will it take place fully within your premises or not; will it be quite didactic (i.e. teacher-centred) or involve more experiential or peer-learning? Think here not only of your capacity to deliver (trainers, materials, equipment), but also about what the best experience would be for the trainee. Since you are offering a service for which people or organisations are paying, think about how to offer them the best value for their money. Essentially, you are a service provider and the trainee is the customer.
Case study: ‘Radio in a day’ – Wythenshawe FM
2 radio trainers will come down to your organisation and work with your group to produce and present a pre-recorded radio show. The radio show will then be scheduled and broadcast on Wythenshawe FM.
Aims of the day:
- Presenting tips (voice inflection, reading scripts, clarity)
- Understanding audiences for radio
- Understanding the radio industry
- Understanding of Ofcom rules
- What makes a radio show (Running orders)
- Developing ideas for your show
- Making your radio feature
- Scripting an introduction for the show
- Pre-recorded or Live show
Making the business case
Just as with your ability to attract funding, you will need to develop a business case around your training in order to sell your services to individuals and organisations. This means you will need to build into your training evaluation methods to determine how effective or successful your training is – which, in turn, will enable you to advertise your offer.
Use your volunteers
A major asset of your community radio station is your volunteers. Christine Cox argues for making the most of your volunteers, and harnessing their social networks as a means of bringing in funding and revenue for your station.