How to reach the young audience? The strategy of the Italian-speaking Swiss Radio and Television

12th May 2023
RSI launched Spam in 2016 to reach younger audiences. But over the 7 years they have been around, as Spam’s Chief Editor writes, they have had to adapt to maintain relevance. 
Two people sat at a desk with computers on it.
Spam's newsroom. Spam is the RSI service for the Italian-speaking Swiss audience under 35. Credit: Michel Galati / RSI.
By Giorgia Blotti, Chief Editor of Spam Magazine, RSI

Reaching your target audience means understanding them, knowing them, knowing where they are, what they expect and how they consume content. But how can you reach (and retain) a young audience, whose attention span is typically less than 10 seconds? This question is fundamental for a public service company like the Italian-speaking Swiss Radio and Television (RSI), because our task is precisely to offer radio, television and digital coverage that is neutral, that ensures plurality of opinions and that is relevant.

Regarding the Young Unit of RSI, there are currently 5 products and a creative space that aim to entertain and inform young people in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Wetube, the creative space located in Lugano, offers events and productive resources to help young people realize their projects with professional material that is made available for free 7 days a week. The products, on the other hand, are RSI KIDS, dedicated to children aged 3 to 9; RSI EDU, created for middle school students; Barnüm, an ironic and comic page; Spam, an infotainment page, and Cult+, a cultural magazine. These three offers are designed for an audience under 35.

We try to go directly to young people, to get to know them, understand them and even involve them.

As for Barnüm, Cult+ and Spam, on the other hand, the strategy is diametrically opposite because with these three products we try to go directly to young people, to get to know them, understand them and even involve them. In doing so, we want to actively give voice and space to young people by proposing content created for them, with them and also by them.

This last sentence is exactly the “slogan” that we repeat daily within the Spam editorial staff. Spam is the first of the five products of the Young Unit to be created and it was born, in October 2016, from the need of RSI to reach the younger audience. It started on Facebook (yes Facebook was still for young people in 2016, incredible!) and Instagram, mainly with 59-second horizontal videos because the main format was “Everything you’re interested in less than a minute”. Today, after almost 7 years, many things have changed. First of all, the working paradigm: to keep the offer always fresh and up-to-date, we have few internal collaborators and many occasional external collaborators who, in addition to their school activities, offer and produce content with us. This is an interesting and practical way to do continuous talent scouting. Then, of course, we have abandoned Facebook to move to TikTok, the format has become exclusively vertical.

To reach this audience, the Young Unit has decided to adopt two different strategies, dictated by the age of the target. For RSI KIDS and RSI EDU, the idea is to reach elementary and middle school students indirectly: the content is created specifically for children and young people, but is conveyed through schools and parents. We work closely with schools, institutions and associations, also creating real editorial collaborations. This is possible thanks to the size of our territory. Switzerland has four linguistic regions and the Italian-speaking region is the second smallest, just under 4,000 km2. For this reason, being physically present in schools with dedicated activities and editorial collaborations with institutions is a challenging but achievable task. This strategy, for example, materializes with RSI EDU by making our videos – which are short, fresh, rhythmic and made to introduce current themes and contemporary phenomena – known across the board: the school program, to teachers and families.


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Many things have changed over the years in terms of formats and platforms, but one thing that has remained the same is the need and desire to involve young people.

We also have two podcasts, Sex Box on relationships and sexuality, and Vibez, which is more of a talk show style with guests. Finally, today the graphic part of Instagram carousels has gained equal if not greater importance than videos, so much so that more than half of our content is in carousel format. In particular, for just over a year now, we have had a morning and daily press review with a selection of news of the day.

Close up image of Spam's Instagram account on a computer screen.
Spam's Instagram account. uses social media accounts such as Instagram and TikTok to connect with audiences. Credit: Michel Galati / RSI.

As I mentioned, many things have changed over the years in terms of formats and platforms, but one thing that has remained the same is the need and desire to involve young people from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland in our work. From the beginning, Spam has become known for its interviews, in which any young person from the area can speak and make their special project, a special or almost unknown profession, or a unique experience known to their peers.

Spam is well-known not only for interviews but also for “vox populi” videos, in which we go to places where young people gather, such as in front of schools or in their places of interest, and ask them directly what they think about certain topics that can be lighter such as “Have you ever had a double crush?” or more serious and related to current events such as the possibility of having free feminine hygiene products in schools. These formats arise from the fact that very often we talk about issues related mainly to the world of young people but very few go directly to them to ask what their needs, desires, and dreams are. And this is precisely what Spam seeks to do, give importance to the voice of young people, give them opportunities, and give them the freedom to express themselves.

Credit: Luca Bassi / RSI.

About the author

Giorgia Blotti is the Chief Editor of Spam Magazine for RSI.

Our thanks to Ms. Blotti for providing this report.

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