Forget Original Material: Focus on Unique Performances

Forget Original Material: Focus on Unique Performances

by Tracy Johnson

Every time I work with an air personality that insists on creating original material that has never been done before, a shiver runs through me.

They’re almost certainly going to fail. There are so few original ideas that nobody has done before or is doing now. And talent that is so convinced they can do it are misplacing their efforts.

Original material doesn’t matter. Unique content does. That may sound like a contradiction, but it’s not. Here’s the difference.

Original Material

 When is the last time you had a truly original idea? Are you sure it was really original? Did you Google it? Chances are, your original material was a result of something you saw, heard or experienced elsewhere.

Seth Godin discovered that original material is a dead end to obscurity. When looking for ideas for a new book, he was looking for that topic that had never been done. He says:

Every time we had an idea, every time we were about to submit a proposal, we discovered that there was already a book on that topic. Someone else had ‘stolen’ my idea before I had even had it.

You can spend most of your time trying to create a new feature, topic or story that nobody has done. Stop wasting your time! Why bother?

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Unique Content

The key to your success has nothing to do with finding original material. Content becomes unique when you hijack the material with your personality.

As Godin says:
No one expects you to do something so original, so unique, so off the wall that it has never been conceived of before. In fact, if you do that, it’s unlikely you will find the support you need to do much of anything with your idea.

Instead of obsessing over original material, focus on how to perform your content so that only you could do it. Hijacking ideas and making them your own allows you to spend your energy figuring out how to connect with your audience with an emphasis on your character traits.

After all, listeners don’t become fans because of the information you gather or the topics you present. They become fans because of how you perform those things in a style that’s all your own

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There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from, borrowing, adapting and even stealing someone else’s idea. There’s a lot wrong with simply performing someone else’s content exactly as they did it.

You can’t copy your way to success. So be smart about choosing the right ideas to steal, then work hard to make those things stand out in a remarkable, delightful and important way. Original content doesn’t matter. Unique content delivered in your character voice does.

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Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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