Why Your Radio Station’s Digital Assets Could Be at Risk

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Having full control over your online presence is more important than ever. Yet, many managers unfamiliar with digital assets often trust someone else to “take care of everything.” I’ve been asked to do this several times over the years and I always decline.  Giving control to someone you trust might seem like a good solution, but it can lead to big problems.

Imagine finding out you no longer have control over your domain or that switching app providers means losing access to your entire user database. These aren’t just hypothetical situations—they happen more often than you’d think.

The Risks of Allowing Service Providers or Individuals to Own Your Domain

Your domain name is more than just an address; it’s a vital part of your radio station’s identity and online presence. When you allow an individual or service provider to register a domain for you under their account, they essentially own it.  Here’s why that can be risky:

Difficulty in Transferring Domains

Transferring your domain to another provider can become complex and frustrating when someone else owns it. You might face resistance, delays, or additional fees to move your domain where you want it. This can disrupt your online presence and even cause downtime for your website.

One specific instance comes to mind: I noticed one station domain was registered to their engineer rather than the station owner. I explained how this was risky, but the station owner was adamant about the engineer being a long-time friend and that changing might upset things.  A few years later, I received a call from the owner saying that the engineer had passed away and that the process of getting the domain took providing a death certificate to the registrar. The entire process of getting their domain back took months.

Potential for Service Interruptions

If the person or company who owns your domain faces issues or decides to stop providing its services, your domain could be at risk. With the engineer passing away, the billing for the domain could lapse before proving that the station owned the domain.  They tried changing the billing to theirs, but the registrar needed the owner’s permission first, and we know that wasn’t happening.  Service interruptions can make your website inaccessible, particularly damaging if your listeners rely on your site for updates, streaming, or other services.

Increased Costs and Fees

Sometimes, the person or company who owns your domain might impose additional costs for renewal or transfer. They have the leverage to charge higher fees, knowing you need to maintain control over your online presence. Several years ago, one station boasted that they were paying “just $10/month” for their domain name.  You should have seen their look when I told them that most domains cost $12 to $14 per year.  Situations like this can become financial burdens, especially for smaller stations.

Loss of Brand Identity and Trust

Your domain is a key part of your brand identity. Without control over it, you risk losing that identity. You may have spent years building your brand.  If you must change your domain because of an issue, it can confuse your audience and damage your station’s reputation.

Legal and Ownership Disputes

In some cases, disputes over domain ownership can lead to legal battles. If a service provider or individual decides to hold your domain hostage, resolving the issue could take significant time and money. Having the domain registered in your name from the start helps avoid these potential legal headaches.

As you can see, owning your domain is essential for maintaining control over your online presence and ensuring the stability and integrity of your radio station’s brand. Registering your domain yourself under a station-owned account can avoid these risks.

The Pitfalls of App Providers Controlling Your App Accounts

Allowing a mobile app developer or provider to register and manage your app under their developer account might seem convenient and faster, but it also comes with significant risks. Here’s why you should maintain control over your app accounts:

Loss of Access to User Databases

When your app is managed under someone else’s account, you may not have direct access to your user data. This means losing valuable insights into your audience’s behavior and preferences. Worse, if you switch providers, you might not be able to transfer this critical information, so you effectively start from scratch each time.

Complications in Switching Providers

Switching app providers is already complex, but it becomes even more challenging when you don’t control your app account. Transferring the app to a new provider might involve significant downtime or even the creation of a brand-new app that your users must download again.  This can lead to potential confusion and user loss.

Potential for Data Loss or Misuse

When someone else controls your app account, they also control your data. This means there’s a risk of data loss if they mishandle it or their systems fail. Additionally, there’s a risk that your data could be misused, intentionally or unintentionally, harming your station’s reputation and trustworthiness.

Increased Costs and Fees

Providers might charge additional fees for managing your app, making updates, or transferring the app to a new account. These costs can add up over time, straining your budget.

Maintaining control over your app accounts ensures that you have direct access to your user data, the ability to make timely updates, and the flexibility to switch providers if needed. It protects your station’s interests and helps maintain a seamless and engaging experience for your audience.

Other Digital Assets You Should Control

In addition to your domain and app accounts, several other digital assets are crucial for maintaining control over your radio station’s online presence. Ensuring ownership and access to these assets will help you avoid potential pitfalls and keep your station running smoothly.

Email Hosting and Newsletter Lists

Owning your email hosting and lists ensures you can easily transfer email lists, maintain a direct line of communication, and protect your data’s privacy. Losing control over email and newsletter hosting can disrupt these critical functions and lead to data loss and privacy concerns.

Another story comes to mind where a station owner trusted an on-air personality to set up the station’s e-mail server account for them. When the air personality left to go to the competition, their way of communicating online went with him.

Social Media Accounts

Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with your audience and promoting your station. Controlling your social media accounts prevents the loss of followers, ensures consistency in your brand identity, and simplifies account recovery in case of issues. Losing access to these accounts can undermine your community and brand presence.

Analytics and Ad Accounts

Analytics and advertising platforms provide essential insights into your audience and campaign performance. Controlling these accounts ensures you retain access to critical data, can continuously track and adjust your strategies, and avoid the high costs and disruptions associated with data recovery. Losing control means losing valuable insights and operational efficiency.

Maintaining ownership of these digital assets is crucial for your radio station’s stability, security, and growth. By taking charge of your email, social media, and analytics accounts, you can avoid unnecessary risks and ensure your station remains a trusted and reliable resource for your audience.

Best Practices for Retaining Control Over Your Digital Assets

Maintaining control over your digital assets is essential for your radio station’s success and security. Here are some best practices to ensure you retain ownership and control from the start:

  1. Register Everything in Your Station/Company Name: Register your domains in your station’s name with a station e-mail address. Avoid using personal accounts. Use a reputable registrar and keep the login credentials secure. This ensures you have complete control over your domains and can easily manage or transfer them as needed.
  2. Avoid Third-Party Providers Who “Handle Everything”: Shady third-party providers who want to register your assets under their accounts want to make it difficult (or impossible) for you to leave later.
  3. Regularly Back Up Data and Digital Asset Content: Regular backups of your website content, app data, email lists, and other critical information are essential. Store these backups securely and ensure they are up to date. This practice protects you against data loss and ensures you can quickly restore your services.
  4. Keep Detailed Records of All Accounts and Access Credentials: Maintain a secure and organized record of all your digital asset accounts and their credentials. Use password managers to keep this information safe and ensure only authorized personnel have access. Detailed records help you manage your assets efficiently and avoid complications if changes or transfers are needed.

Conclusion

Maintaining control over your digital assets is crucial for protecting your radio station’s online presence and ensuring long-term success. By owning your domains, app accounts, email hosting, social media, and analytics accounts, you avoid unnecessary risks and keep your station’s operations smooth and secure. Take time to inventory all your digital assets and discover who owns them.  If they are controlled or owned by a third party, be it a service provider or someone who works at your station, start migrating them to station-owned accounts right now to safeguard your digital assets. You can still allow access to those other parties who need to make changes for you.

By following these best practices, you can ensure that your radio station retains control over its digital assets, safeguarding your online presence and ensuring smooth operations.

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