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Andrea Febo, Radio Food: The future belongs to audio content

Andrea Febo, Radio Food: Il futuro è dei contenuti audio

Andrew Phoebus, journalist and founder of Radio Food explains how his editorial team moved in 2020. Many live videos, daily interventions by experts and many User Generated Contents characterized the central months of the pandemic. What about the future? More and more space will be left for words and the digital evolution of audio content. This is why Andrea has decided to invest in audio productions with the new label of T-ReK Edition.

How did you deal with this pandemic and the consequent great difficulty in the restaurant sector with your newspaper?

«Initially, we immediately declined our contents on a video format, converging on live shows that were able to interact with people in a more engaging way. It was a time of great uncertainty and therefore of great need for information. We were able to bring in professionals who in other periods would have been really complicated to contact in the few free moments, and this has strengthened the credibility. Going beyond pure information, understood as video interviews and written editorials that have never stopped, catering has been, and still is, a delicate sector, forced to confront very often against its own nature. Almost none of those we know were born to deliver and the consequence was that someone succeeded in creating a quality offer, others have even done better than they could at the table, but many others have inevitably done the accounts with something they did not know, could not and should not do. As an editorial staff, we tried to do the best we could while respecting the bond that binds us to catering, but above all to those who follow us ».

Have you in any way changed your usual narrative?

«Apart from the variations of the contents between written, spoken and recorded live, the style is always the same. Basically we try to create opinion through comparison. Calling into question those who have valuable content to share, while maintaining a generative style, has always been an objective that we hope to achieve on a daily basis ».

Have you carried out any particular initiatives to describe this very particular period?

“In particular, one yes. We thought it might be important to update the category on government measures on a weekly basis with a video content that hosted Claudio Pica, president of Fiepet, Confesercenti Rome and national vice president. Among other things, together with the Order of Food Technologists of Lazio and Campania, in the person of Dr. Maria Manuela Russo, we have promoted guidelines for catering adjustments and innovative methods of sanitizing environments. "
From your point of view, how do you think food companies have communicated in this period?

«It is difficult to enter into the merits of a judgment. I believe everyone communicated as best they could. What was evident is the importance of communication, which, in other periods, has always been underestimated. Many have discovered that it is impossible not to communicate and that therefore it is necessary to do it well, paying the price of disorganization both online and offline. Very often, communication is considered a cost and not an investment, this has emerged in an inevitably penalizing manner for those who have always neglected communication ».

Are there any initiatives that have particularly impressed you and that you wanted to highlight?

“There have been many realities that have impressed for their dignity and creativity, for their flexibility and entrepreneurial intelligence. Sometimes even dictated by the need. I think of those who invested in online sales (pastry shops like Olivieri 1882), of those who transformed their network of distribution of products for catering, destining it to the consumer (Longino & Cardenal and HQF), or those who have not aimed to change their offer and gastronomic identity, investing in parallel compatible activities (Back shop in fresh counter products and Zia Restaurant * with patisserie). Then many innovative start-ups were born such as Too Good To Go, against food waste ».
And how did your users / readers / listeners react?

«I believe that there has been, and is still in progress, a reactive arc on the part of people, strongly linked to emotionality. If at the beginning there was bulimia of information and entertainment, these months are instead characterized by a strong individualism; perhaps sane, given the situation. This is why we have aimed to implement editorial content capable of giving something personal to those who have a specific interest in the importance of the circular economy, for example, or in food awareness ».

Have you noticed a greater sensitivity to certain issues related to the world of food?

«Absolutely yes, what I think we can say, with absolute certainty, is that everywhere, on every media, important messages on eco-sustainability have been concentrated. From the quality of the products to the importance of conscious consumption, up to the fight against waste. These were, fortunately, the most important issues in the industry during this period. Like the digitization of companies and the optimization of production processes, which we must not forget, found an opportunity for development in the year of the pandemic. At the end of this emergency, many companies will find themselves better than before ».

In your opinion, has there been an increase in attention to this sector?

“To be honest, yes, but many times with a negative expression. Surely the kitchen fascinates everyone and therefore giving it space is a strategic media move, but I believe that too often the category has not been represented at its best. Uncoordinated initiatives, comprehensible exasperation, but not very productive, capacity for dialogue in the decisive tables absent. Catering is a larger sector than we imagine and includes both small and large entrepreneurs, in the mass media I have almost never seen that representative entrepreneurial class, capable of enhancing this privilege of attention. "

After the pandemic, and when finally we can really talk about a restart, how do you think communication in the food sector will change?

“Unfortunately, I think that in most cases it will once again be a cost to be cut and not a productive investment. However, it must be said that evolution is inexorable. More and more space will be left for words and the digital evolution of audio content. If we think of the large investments of giants like Google and Amazon, in podcast platforms and smart speakers, we have a future outlined. With foresight, we should invest in the production of valuable audio content, today also indexed by search engines, which tomorrow will be the only ones that can be read by smart speakers. The future is in content with less friction, asynchronous, on demand. It is important to stop being self-referential by pushing products that you don't need to create uncontrolled and often unsuccessful consumption. Instead, I hope for an eco-marketing, where values ​​are generated capable of creating spontaneous, solid and aware communities. Also in our sector ».

Which channels should be privileged and which ones have had their day?

«I don't think there are out-of-date channels, I rather believe that each one has its own increasingly specific and channeled space. Each platform has a well-defined function and audience, so you need to study who you want to address before speaking anywhere. However, the future is projected on the intimate and engaging power of the voice. There is a possibility that the speakers will be the next influencers.

From 2019 to today, users and average listening sessions on Italian players have quadrupled, let's talk about podcasts (2020 Voxnest analysis for Spreaker) ».
Do you have any future projects that you want to anticipate related to your newspaper or your professional life?

«The radio remains radio and has its own function, I don't think it can ever decline. For a vertical web radio the challenge, not always easy, is only to mediate as much as possible with the entertainment that is in the nature of the instrument. Personally then I decided to invest in audio productions. With an edition label called T-ReK. I am producing podcasts in major projects and planning the creation of transversal gender channels. The voice has always had a very powerful narrative force and to link the values ​​of a subject to stories capable of creating community identities ».


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