I have been described by some people as a loose cannon, an ideas person, someone who thinks left of centre and outside the box… all true!
Definition: Between the 17th and 19th centuries, wooden warships had cannons mounted on wheels on their gundecks. They had to be kept tied down to prevent them from getting away, and a ‘loose cannon’ was a gun that had broken free of its restraints and was rolling about the deck in a dangerous way. A Loose Cannon in modern days is someone who behaves in an uncontrolled or unexpected way and is likely to cause problems.
But my experience is that nearly every single radio station I have ever been to, or heard of, has one of these people – someone who thinks their mind, lets the ideas flow and sometimes comes up with ideas that are truly inspiring.
From ideas like – “lets get listeners to live on a billboard and the one that stays the longest wins a house” to “lets paint our station call letters and logo on a car and destroy it by dropping it from a helicopter when we change station format”.
Both good ideas – their execution though – well…. hmmmm!
So to the point of this post – what do you do when you have a loose cannon on deck? AND (most importantly) what do you do if you are the loose cannon?
#1 DON’T STEM THE FLOW!
Let those ideas come thick and fast – you never know when a single idea may be the one that blows everyone away – and keep track of all the other ideas. A simple nudge of some of those ideas onto another track or train of thought can lead to some incredible promotional activities.
My favourite way to do this is to play “WHAT IF?” To keep the core of the idea, but change it up and redirect it.
Take the idea and say “OK, what if we did that, but like this?” or let them know that the idea is brilliant, but is it legal? Safe? Do-able? Achievable? And… will it get the results that will work FOR the station, not against it?
#2 KEEP THOSE IDEAS COMING
Creative lunacy and genius is all well and good – and sometimes the most mental ideas work the best – but just because one idea didn’t work out – you don’t want those ideas to stop coming – encourage the ideas and the person. Guide them, bring them under your wing or just keep track of your own ideas.
Don’t stop them from thinking or creating – because it is hard to get them involved again if their ideas were ignored – and now you need them.
Give them the kudos they deserve, and praise them as much as you can – they deserve it!
#3 THE REAL WORLD
Now we get to the hard part – finding out if the ideas are actually actionable. You do this AWAY from the loose cannon! You breakdown the idea into what is possible, and what isn’t. Uncovering the mine-field that may be before you.
Sure there may be twists and turns along the way, and the final promo may not look like it was initially pitched – but the core of the idea will be and it is bound to be different enough to get listeners attention – and that means it is worth it!