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Ron Harrell “A Rough Start…”

“A Rough Start For The Taylor Swift Listening Party”

She wanted to go to her friend’s house for the Taylor Swift listening party at Midnight. The flight from Colorado landed a few minutes early and she sent a message to the Uber driver letting him know of her arrival because she had a Rideshare reservation. Everything was flowing according to her plan as she pulled the large duffle bag on rollers from baggage claim to the poorly marked Rideshare area at the airport.

The driver made a nonverbal nod and she smiled back with a simple greeting as a rookie Rideshare client. The word rookie is important in this story. They exited the airport and drove toward downtown Nashville when odd messages started pinging her app. “I’m waiting at B1,” or “It looks like you left the pickup area.” Then the phone started ringing, but the numbers were unfamiliar so she didn’t answer.

As the ride moved closer to downtown Nashville, it became clear something weird because she wasn’t going to downtown Nashville. This was the moment she recognized her Rideshare rookie classification was real. She looked at the app, raised her head, and glanced at the driver. “Are you Robert?” His first verbal reply of the trip was, “No.”

and then she knew

She was in the wrong car. Panicked and unsure what to do, she told the driver there was a mistake. He seemed a little irritated, but he apologized and returned her to the Rideshare area at the airport because he wasn’t taking her on the 33-mile trip and then going through the process of Uber Support adjusting the fares and getting paid later. It was easier to turn around on I-40 and start over.

I delivered a food manufacturer marketing team to their airline entrance and accepted the next rider opportunity in the Rideshare area. This is where I met the subject of our story. Rewind. Okay, the “team” was two people. Don’t assume I’m driving a $93,000 Escalade with a seating capacity for seven people when I say team.

Fast forward. “Hello, Gina,” I said with my smile and welcoming tone. She exhaled with a relieved smile and quickly changed to an investigative look as she quizzed me about my name, my license plate, and her destination. I loaded the heavy duffle bag, opened her door, reconfirmed her destination, and spent the next 33 miles listening to her story about the wrong car experience, the places she lived, and the whole reason she made this trip: to have a Taylor Swift Tortured Poets Department album listening party with her best friend at midnight when the album would be available to the public.

connective tissue

We discussed Swift’s music and Gina’s reluctance to become a fan. Slowly influenced by her friend, Gina became a passionate convert after seeing the Eras tour in Denver. Now she was crossing time zones and getting in the wrong car so she could experience the release of a new album with her friend. In person. Not the 2024 way of sharing that experience via Zoom, Teams, or FaceTime.

“Connective tissue,” the anatomical term, is a phrase I use with media content creators. Which words, phrases, images, or actions do we use to show we’re in the moment and attempting to connect with the audience? It’s a think tank concept. However, it provides tactical opportunities in several categories when managed as a strategy.

Gina and her friend were creating the oldest and most effective connective tissue moment: a collective physical shared experience. As broadcasters and content creators, are we too focused on the electronic and digital experiences that we forget the power of in-person? It sounds counterproductive to modern trends, and I don’t disagree. Flip it around. How do we create more personal experiences from those digital and social moments?

influencers in person

One of my clients was flying out of town this week for an influencer event with his restaurant chain. I told him about Gina and my thoughts on connective tissue tactics. He said they pay lots of money to influencers, entertainers, and athletes to appear at their events. The client benefits from the influencer’s millions of followers. However, my client said the smart influencers understand the importance of meeting the biggest fans in person. Think of the world of politics. Meeting your voters and donors is a difference-maker in 2024.

How can we create in-person moments from our brand’s standard digital and social media elements? Work the problem backward. If you have a staff member who makes funny videos, can you host an event at the studio with superfans who get to watch the creation of a week’s worth of IG Reels? Podcast listening parties are popular now. The audience sees the podcast production and every fan gets a meet-and-greet experience. Books, food & beverage, transportation, and health and home categories. Bring back album release parties. It’s not about access to the music. It’s connecting with like-minded people in person. These aren’t new ideas, they’re opportunities to provide a deeper engagement experience. Oh, and all of those ideas have a sponsorable component.

Actionable conclusion. Make lists of everything your brand does in the marketing, product, and sales categories. Then meet with the “What if” thinkers and identify items with a human connection possibility. Don’t invite anyone from the Legal team to this meeting. Some of the ideas will be recycled and dusted off from another era. However, you might find opportunities that haven’t been put through the in-person filter. Just make sure you’re getting in the right car.

Ron Harrell specializes in brand analysis, strategy, and execution for radio and audio mediums. Additionally, he is available for Talent Coaching and Fractional Management. Connect with him for a No Copy & Paste review. Contact Ron at 615.257.7495 – ron@harrellmediagroup.com or his website https://harrellmediagroup.com

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