Kyle and Jackie O claim top spot on radio rankings: Five personal branding lessons from the hosts

Radio shock-jock Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O’s switch from 2Day FM to KiiS FM has paid off, as the pair have claimed the title once more of FM breakfast leaders.

In a remarkable shift, 2Day lost almost a quarter of a million listeners to KiiS, after the controversial hosts jumped ship last year.

It is believed to be the biggest ever one-off shift of listeners between stations, as 2Day lost 242,000 and KiiS gained 276,000 to its cumulative breakfast show total.

The pair has attracted a raft of controversy in the past, including an incident where a 14-year-old girl was quizzed live on air about her sex life, but consistently attract a strong following of listeners.

Personal branding expert and author Ben Angel told SmartCompany how the pair has mastered the art of personal branding, which meant people followed them, rather than the station.

1. Incite conversation

If there’s one thing Kyle and Jackie O know how to do, it’s incite conversation. The pair constantly polarise people, most recently coming under fire for quizzing New Zealand pop star Lorde about her friendship with Taylor Swift, with Kyle remarking the pair could be lesbians.

Angel says the radio hosts aren’t afraid to polarise people.

“They’re very strategic in terms of the way they engage with their audience on a daily basis. They’re consistently creating conflict in the minds of the audience and the audience is constantly questioning whether it’s crossing the line or not,” he says.

“I might not always agree with what they say, but I have to give them credit that they’re masters of inciting conversation. It’s all very strategic and masterful.”

2. Energetically engage your audience

Kyle and Jackie O have perfected the pace and flow of their show, as Angel says, they keep audiences “energetically engaged”.

“I look at it on a scale of zero to 10, with five being neutral (like listening to Enya on repeat). On the scale, 10 is the personal trainer who at 6am is trying to amp you up,” he says.

“When Kyle and Jackie O are doing their show they slide up and down the scale. They can dip below five, but still maintain a positive audience connection and also go up to 10. But they recognise if we were to watch a three-hour movie which was consistently a 10 or a below five, the audience would leave feeling exhausted.”

3. Emotionally engage your audience

As well as energetic engagement, Kyle and Jackie O’s audience are emotionally engaged with the show.

“You have to know how to incite emotion in your audience, whether it is at a networking event, a presentation or even on your website,” Angel says.

“It’s not just about verbal communication, it’s also what you say visually. A lot of people go to stock photo websites and get general images, but whenever I’m branding someone, be it a celebrity or someone who no one has seen, we go through their personality traits and private life and work out which elements can be used publicly.”

Angel says people are more able to connect to a person’s personality as opposed to an image, which might appear more professional.

4. Jump the shark

Angel says Kyle and Jackie O are constantly “jumping the shark”, a technique which can also be used by business owners when their company is getting less traction.

Stemming from a United States TV show, the term ‘jumping the shark’ was coined by Jon Hein and is used to describe a moment when a TV show’s ratings are declining and they use some form of gimmick to regenerate interest.

“In a professional company, say if the business is service-based, they could produce a book or a guide and send it to their target market which makes them stand out in the minds of their customers from the competitors,” Angel says.

In TV, Angel says a good example of ‘jumping the shark’ is the Red Wedding episode in Game of Thrones.

“It was something which was a WTF moment. In some industries you can push it further than in others, but whatever you do you want it to be at the edge of your industry,” he says.

5. Be unapologetic

Despite the mass of criticism frequently hurled at Kyle, he’s never backed down from his image.

“They’re completely unapologetic for who they are, which takes a lot of guts,” Angel says.

“Personal branding is self-expression amplified to influence and command attention, which brings to the forefront our own individual values. You can try to be as professional as you want, but it doesn’t have the authenticity of your own personality.”

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