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Walking The Thin Line

Jason Barrett

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One of the toughest decisions for an on-air personality is determining what is fair and appropriate and what is over the line and off limits. Some will say it’s easy and all you need to do is use good judgment but remember that we work in an industry which pushes its personalities to deliver hard hitting emotional opinions on subjects that may not necessarily be comfortable. When our people enter these muddy waters and take on touchy subjects, we’re the first to turn up the volume on our own radio stations and hope for them not to say something that could put the brand in an uncompromising position.

tedrobinsonIn my local market today, I’m watching the situation unfold after 49ers Broadcaster Ted Robinson delivered some commentary on the Ray Rice situation which offended a number of people. Truth be told, I don’t know Ted that well (we met once) but I’ve always found him to be a first class broadcaster and person and I was very surprised when I heard that he had ruffled feathers with his point of view. While his comments were bad and uncharacteristic, everyone has a bad moment in their life and maybe this is his.

That being said, I don’t believe it erases all the good he’s done over the course of his life or broadcasting career and it bothers me when I see others in a hurry to pile on while someone is down. I certainly don’t blame the 49ers either for taking this position because his comments put the team in an impossible situation.

To say I’ve gone through this a time or two would be an understatement. It’s not fun at all. The last thing a programmer or talk show host wants to deal with is the rage of an entire fan base and the loss of money from loyal advertisers. Whether we like it or not though, society today is way more sensitive and quick to respond on social media than ever before and once the storm starts, it’s not easy to get out of.

This isn’t to imply that an on-air host who makes a mistake should have his poor judgment swept under the rug and forgotten about because that definitely isn’t my point. It simply means that an offensive commentary with little substance or concrete fact to support it, puts those involved with the brand in a no-win situation.

dmarcoDuring my time in St. Louis, my former afternoon host D’Marco Farr took a strong position on whether or not Rush Limbaugh should purchase the St. Louis Rams. D’Marco felt that Rush being involved with a team from an ownership point of view would make certain athletes think twice about whether or not to sign as free agents with the team. His opinion was strong and he had a good idea of how players thought, considering that he had spent seven years playing in the NFL but what he lost sight of was how Rush would react and how rabid his audience was.

Once D’Marco’s views were made public, Rush became aware and he went on the offensive, firing haymakers at my afternoon guy and calling on his listeners to stand up and support him and call for D’Marco’s head. Rush felt D’Marco’s position wasn’t accurate and he wanted to send a message to showcase his power. I remember D’Marco coming in to work and telling me “Dude, Jesse F’N Jackson just called my phone….Jesse Jackson…..this is freaking crazy!”. This was foreign territory for him and he was unsure how to handle the situation so we sat down, crafted an opening monologue and discussed the approach we’d take on the show that day.

In the background I handled the phone calls and emails that flew in from Rush’s fans and I alerted my bosses of what we were dealing with so they were informed. I stood by D’Marco because I knew the commentary wasn’t personal and I felt he had an honest point of view. I also knew who he was as a person and I felt he had handled the issue the right way.

grayfitzAs luck would have it, Jim Gray did an interview with Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald for Westwood One’s Monday Night Football broadcast and during his chat, both players admitted that they’d have to think twice about signing with a team owned by Rush. We cut up the audio and used it in D’Marco’s opening monologue and explained that there was no personal ill-will towards Rush or call to action for him not to be able to purchase the Rams, but to understand that his presence as an owner would create concerns with players in the league. D’Marco then closed the book on the issue and after that segment it was never relevant again.

While that particular issue wasn’t offensive to anyone but Rush and his audience, there have been plenty of examples where guys in our industry have went over the imaginary line. From Kirk Minihane in Boston, to Mayhem In The AM in Atlanta to Stephen A. Smith at ESPN to my own guy Damon Bruce in San Francisco, each of these guys have had the displeasure of being suspended or in the public line of fire and there are countless others who have endured the same wrath. Yet many of them draw strong audiences exactly for that same reason.

sasskipSo if the audience is showing up to hear a passionate, honest and uncomfortable commentary from a talk show host who is known to present a polarizing presentation, and your on-air personality is willing to put themselves out there and live on the edge, is that a bad thing? I know plenty of programmers who prefer a less controversial personality and I know executives who want guys who will strike a chord and get the world talking. Whether it’s Keith Olbermann, Jim Rome, Colin Cowherd, Charles Barkley, Bill Simmons, Stephen A. Smith or Skip Bayless, these guys say things that we take notice of and while it may sometimes bother us, they’re usually also the people who we have the most passionate conversations and opinions about.

It’s easy to react after the fact to what someone says but when you’re in the moment and emotionally charged, it’s not always easy to slow down. It’s like asking a Nascar driver to go from 200 miles per hour to 20 in a split second. I’m not making excuses for any on-air personality because I believe when you step into that studio and get behind a microphone you have a responsibility to be smart with your words and not damage the radio station or your own personal brand, but I also recognize how double-sided things can be.

In every radio station I’ve worked at as a PD, I’ve had the following document printed up and posted inside the studio or on the door entering the room. While some may lose sight of these things along the way or break my balls for it being hokey, it all makes sense, especially the first line. As an air talent, you can go after any individual’s performance. Their results speak for themselves and they’re fair game. We can also criticize decision making because whichever way an organization or individual leans on an important matter, there’s another side to the conversation to be discussed.

Our Commandments

Where I draw the line and will get into a heated exchange with an individual is when it becomes mean spirited and personal. If you don’t like a team, that’s fair. If you want to insult the people on the team though for what they do in their personal lives, that’s got no business in the discussion unless you can show a clear connection to it impacting the team (EX: Ray Rice’s domestic violence issue, Plaxico Burress shoots himself in a nightclub, Michael Vick dog fighting, etc.).

jerryjonesFor example, if you dislike the Dallas Cowboys and the decisions that Jerry Jones makes, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. You can go after the team’s record, roster moves and question whether or not Jerry and his people are effective at their jobs. To suggest though that the reason the team is bad is because Jerry is a drunk and a womanizer, would be an example of something uncalled for and it would lead to a bigger problem for a host on my watch.

If you can’t prove it or show that it has relevance to performance, then it’s wise to avoid it. Otherwise you’ll be swimming alone in an ocean full of great white sharks who want to eat.

clarkslatenI remember last year when former slugger Jack Clark accused Albert Pujols of using steroids and his comments led to the Pujols camp threatening to take legal action against Jack and his employer. Immediately Jack was suspended and then terminated, as was his on-air partner Kevin Slaten. While Jack and Kevin may have had their suspicions, they didn’t have proof and when you enter that arena, it’s a tough one to come out of.

Put yourself in the position of the radio station, are you going to defend the individual on-air who fired an accusation they can’t prove while a multi-millionaire hires the best legal team on the planet to make sure your company is brought to its knees? Probably not! I know this, I’d have done exactly what the radio station did and I personally like Jack who previously worked for me and is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met.

While those are just some examples of things and how they can go wrong, I feel for some of the guys who do this type of work on-air and are known for being strongly opinionated and not afraid to take a stand on difficult subjects. Every day whether they realize it or not, they are risking their careers for the audience’s personal enjoyment. People want to know what our personalities think and they use their points of view to further their own conversations with family and friends throughout the rest of the day and night. Yet one slip and fifteen years of accomplishments can be quickly forgotten.

microscopeSure you could say that it’s not that hard of a job, you get paid to give your opinion on sports and there’s a certain degree of truth to that, but how many people have ever gotten paid to give an opinion and then felt the wrath of a city when the majority have disagreed? In most people’s lives, they say something and a few friends disagree and that’s all there is to it. In our world, one unpopular position can lead to thousands calling for your job, personal attacks being delivered to your personal email or social media accounts, advertisers threatening to harm your employers bottom line if they don’t take action and teams, athletes, media members and fellow colleagues threatening to not do future business with the brand or associate with it due to one person’s involvement. It’s not as easy to handle as some might think.

I’m not here to tell you where the imaginary line is or provide you with the secret ingredients to avoid it. The truth is, every difficult topic presents a challenge for a broadcaster. Some pass with flying colors and some don’t. I personally believe that when you allow your emotions to take over and lead you to a place where your expertise is limited, your chances of falling on your face are enhanced. Yet some hosts can’t help themselves and make that mistake.

Let’s face it, we are not investigators, psychologists, doctors, therapists or members of law enforcement. We’re passionate sports fans who occupy a chair and microphone inside an air conditioned studio and get to pontificate on the world of sports. We don’t expect people in these other professions to step into our shoes and do what we do effectively so why would we think we can do their jobs with any strong degree of success?

religionWhen it comes to decision making I always believe that if you have to ask someone if what you’re about to do is a good idea, chances are it probably isn’t. I can’t tell you how many times a host will run something by me or a producer will ask me if they should include some type of questionable content in a promo and once I ask them if they really think it’s worth it, they nearly always agree that it isn’t.

I also think that sports radio personalities should steer clear from areas that divide and offend an audience. For example, I always tell my hosts to avoid politics, religion and race whenever possible. People come to us to hear us talk about sports, not provide our views on republicans vs. democrats, Jesus Christ or the racial divide in our country. Leave that for news talk outlets.

donaldsterlingI understand that there are times when these issues must be broached. The Donald Sterling story and baseball’s day on capital hill are two stories that come to mind, but unless it connects to sports, we’re not paid for that level of commentary and usually it puts a personality in a bad position and even worse, it costs you listeners.

Remember this, if you’re going to take hard stances and be known as the personality who isn’t afraid to tackle the tough issues, you better have thick skin and some evidence on your side to support your uncomfortable positions. People today voice their opinions more than they ever have and they’re listening and hanging on to your every word to determine whether or not they agree or disagree with you.

The second you slip and leave yourself vulnerable, an avalanche could be coming your way. So protect yourself, be smart, stay in the lane you know best and always bring a shovel because you never know when you may have to use it to dig yourself out of something.

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network

“We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July.”

Jason Barrett

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To run a successful digital content and consulting company in 2022 it’s vital to explore new ways to grow business. There are certain paths that produce a higher return on investment than others, but by being active in multiple spaces, a brand has a stronger chance of staying strong and overcoming challenges when the unexpected occurs. Case in point, the pandemic in 2020.

As much as I love programming and consulting stations to assist with growing their over the air and digital impact, I consider myself first a business owner and strategist. Some have even called me an entrepreneur, and that works too. Just don’t call me a consultant because that’s only half of what I do. I’ve spent a lot of my time building relationships, listening to content, and studying brands and markets to help folks grow their business. Included in my education has been studying website content selection, Google and social media analytics, newsletter data, the event business, and the needs of partners and how to best serve them. As the world of media continues to evolve, I consider it my responsibility to stay informed and ready to pivot whenever it’s deemed necessary. That’s how brands and individuals survive and thrive.

If you look at the world of media today compared to just a decade ago, a lot has changed. It’s no secret during that period that podcasting has enjoyed a surge. Whether you review Edison Research, Jacobs Media, Amplifi Media, Spotify or another group’s results, the story is always the same – digital audio is growing and it’s expected to continue doing so. And that isn’t just related to content. It applies to advertising too. Gordon Borrell, IAB and eMarketer all have done the research to show you where future dollars are expected to move. I still believe it’s smart, valuable and effective for advertisers to market their products on a radio station’s airwaves, but digital is a key piece of the brand buy these days, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Which brings me to today’s announcement.

If you were in New York City in March for our 2022 BSM Summit, you received a program at the show. Inside of one of the pages was a small ad (same image used atop this article) which said “Coming This Summer…The BSM Podcast Network…Stay Tuned For Details.” I had a few people ask ‘when is that happening, and what shows are you planning to create?’ and I kept the answers vague because I didn’t want to box ourselves in. I’ve spent a few months talking to people about joining us to help continue producing quality written content and improve our social media. Included in that process has been talking to members of our team and others on the outside about future opportunities creating podcasts for the Barrett Sports Media brand.

After examining the pluses and minuses, and listening and talking to a number of people, I’m excited to share that we are launching the BSM Podcast Network. We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July. Demetri Ravanos will provide oversight of content execution, and assist with production and guest booking needs for selected pods. This is why we’ve been frequently promoting Editor and Social Media jobs with the brand. It’s hard to pursue new opportunities if you don’t have the right support.

The titles that will make up our initial offerings are each different in terms of content, host and presentation. First, we have Media Noise with Demetri Ravanos, which has produced over 75 episodes over the past year and a half. That show will continue in its current form, being released each Friday. Next will be the arrival of The Sports Talkers Podcast with Stephen Strom which will debut on Thursday June 23rd, the day of the NBA Draft. After that, The Producer’s Podcast with Brady Farkas will premiere on Wednesday June 29th. Then as we move into July, two more titles will be added, starting with a new sales focused podcast Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves. The final title to be added to the rotation will be The Jason Barrett Podcast which yours truly will host. The goal is to have five weekly programs distributed through our website and across all podcasting platforms by mid to late July.

I am excited about the creation of each of these podcasts but this won’t be the last of what we do. We’re already working on additional titles for late summer or early fall to ramp up our production to ten weekly shows. Once a few ideas and discussions get flushed out, I’ll have more news to share with you. I may consider adding even more to the mix too at some point. If you have an idea that you think would resonate with media professionals and aspiring broadcasters, email me by clicking here.

One thing I want to point out, this network will focuses exclusively on various areas of the sports media industry. We’ll leave mainstream sports conversations to the rest of the media universe. That’s not a space I’m interested in pursuing. We’ve focused on a niche since arriving on the scene in 2015 and have no plans to waver from it now.

Additionally, you may have noticed that we now refer to our company as ‘Barrett Media’. That’s because we are now involved in both sports and news media. That said, we are branding this as the BSM Podcast Network because the titles and content are sports media related. Maybe there will be a day when we introduce a BNM version of this, but right now, we’ve got to make sure the first one works right before exploring new territory.

Our commitment to delivering original industry news, features and opinions in print form remains unchanged. This is simply an opportunity to grow in an area where we’ve been less active. I know education for industry folks and those interested in entering the business is important. It’s why young people all across the country absorb mountains of debt to receive a college education. As valuable as those campus experiences might be, it’s a different world once you enter the broadcasting business.

What I’d like to remind folks is that we continue to make investments in the way we cover, consult, and discuss the media industry because others invest in us. It’d be easy to stockpile funds and enjoy a few more vacations but I’m not worried about personal wealth. I’m focused on building a brand that does meaningful work by benefitting those who earn a living in the media industry or are interested in one day doing so. As part of that process I’m trying to connect our audience to partners who provide products, services or programs that can benefit them.

Since starting this brand, we’ve written more than 18,000 articles. We now cover two formats and produce more than twenty five pieces of content per day. The opportunity to play a small role in keeping media members and future broadcasters informed is rewarding but we could not pay people to edit, write, and host podcasts here if others didn’t support us. For that I’m extremely grateful to those who do business with us either as a consulting client, website advertiser, Summit partner or through a monthly or annual membership. The only way to get better is to learn from others, and if our access to information, knowledge, relationships and professional opinions helps others and their brands, then that makes what we do worthwhile.

Thanks as always for the continued support. We appreciate that you read our content each day, and hope to be able to earn some of your listenership in the future too.

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5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs

“Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.”

Jason Barrett

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I recently appeared on a podcast, Monetize Media, to discuss the growth of Barrett Media. The conversation covered a lot of ground on business topics including finding your niche, knowing your audience and serving them the right content in the right locations, the evolution of the BSM Summit, and why consulting is a big part of our mix but can’t be the only thing we do.

Having spent nearly seven years growing this brand, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just know what’s worked for us, and it starts with vision, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to adapt quickly. There are many areas we can be better in whether it’s social media, editing, SEO, sales, finding news, producing creative original content or adding more staff. Though there’s always work to be done and challenges to overcome, when you’re doing something you love and you’re motivated to wake up each day doing it, that to me is success.

But lately there’s one part of the job that I haven’t enjoyed – the hiring process. Fortunately in going through it, I was able to get to know Arky Shea. He’s a good guy, talented writer, and fan of the industry, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s joining us as BSM’s new night time editor. I’ll have a few other announcements to make later this month, but in the meantime, if you’re qualified to be an editor or social media manager, I’m still going through the process to add those two positions to our brand. You can learn more about both jobs by clicking here.

Working for an independent digital brand like ours is different from working for a corporation. You communicate directly with yours truly, and you work remotely on a personal computer, relying on your eyes, ears and the radio, television, and internet to find content. Because our work appears online, you have to enjoy writing, and understand and have a passion for the media industry, the brands who produce daily content, and the people who bring those brands to life. We receive a lot of interest from folks who see the words ‘sports’ and ‘news’ in our brand names and assume they’re going to cover games or political beats. They quickly discover that that’s not what we do nor are we interested in doing it.

If you follow us on social media, have visited our website or receive our newsletters, you’ve likely seen us promoting openings with the brand. I’ve even bought ads on Indeed, and been lucky enough to have a few industry folks share the posts on social. We’re in a good place and trying to make our product better, so to do that, we need more help. But over the past two months, Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.

Receiving applications from folks who don’t have a firm grasp of what we do is fine. That happens everywhere. Most of the time we weed those out. It’s no different than when a PD gets an application for a top 5 market hosting gig from a retail employee who’s never spoken on a microphone. The likelihood of that person being the right fit for a role without any experience of how to do the job is very slim. What’s been puzzling though is seeing how many folks reach out to express interest in opportunities, only to discover they’re not prepared, not informed or not even interested in the role they’ve applied for.

For instance, one applicant told me on a call ‘I’m not interested in your job but I knew getting you on the phone would be hard, and I figured this would help me introduce myself because I know I’m a great host, and I’d like you to put me on the radar with programmers for future jobs.’ I had another send a cover letter that was addressed to a different company and person, and a few more applied for FT work only to share that they can’t work FT, weren’t interested in the work that was described in the position, didn’t know anything about our brand but needed a gig, were looking for a confidence boost after losing a job or they didn’t have a computer and place to operate.

At first I thought this might be an exclusive issue only we were dealing with. After all, our brand and the work we do is different from what happens inside of a radio or TV station. In some cases, folks may have meant well and intended something differently than what came out. But after talking to a few programmers about some of these things during the past few weeks, I’ve been stunned to hear how many similar horror stories exist. One top programmer told me hiring now is much harder than it was just five years ago.

I was told stories of folks applying for a producer role at a station and declining an offer unless the PD added air time to the position. One person told a hiring manager they couldn’t afford not to hire them because their ratings were tanking. One PD was threatened for not hiring an interested candidate, and another received a resume intended for the competing radio station and boss. I even saw one social example last week of a guy telling a PD to call him because his brand was thin on supporting talent.

Those examples I just shared are bad ideas if you’re looking to work for someone who manages a respected brand. I realize everyone is different, and what clicks with one hiring manager may not with another, but if you have the skills to do a job, I think you’ll put yourself in a better position by avoiding these 5 mistakes below. If you’re looking for other ways to enhance your chances of landing an opportunity, I recommend you click here.

Educate Yourself Before Applying – take some time to read the job description, and make sure it aligns with your skillset and what you’re looking to do professionally before you apply. Review the company’s body of work and the people who work there. Do you think this is a place you’d enjoy being at? Does it look like a job that you’d gain personal and professional fulfillment from? Are you capable of satisfying the job requirements? Could it potentially put you on the path to greater opportunities? If most of those produce a yes, it’s likely a situation to consider.

Proofread Your Email or Cover Letter and Resume – If the first impression you give a hiring manager is that you can’t spell properly, and you address them and their brand by the wrong names, you’re telling them to expect more mistakes if they hire you. Being detail oriented is important in the media business. If this is your introduction to someone and they have a job you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to go through your materials thoroughly before you press send. If you can have someone else put an extra set of eyes on your introduction to protect you from committing a major blunder even better.

Don’t Waste People’s Time – You’d be annoyed if a company put you through a 3-4 week process only to tell you they didn’t see you as a viable candidate right? Well, it works the other way too. If you’re not seriously interested in the job or you’re going into the process hoping to change the job description later, don’t apply. If the fit isn’t right or the financials don’t work, that’s OK. Express that. People appreciate transparency. Sometimes they may even call you back in the future when other openings become available. But if you think someone is going to help you after you wasted their time or lied to them, trust me, they won’t.

Don’t Talk Like An Expert About Things You Don’t Know – Do you know why a station’s ratings or revenue is down? Are you aware of the company’s goals and if folks on the inside are satisfied or upset? Is the hiring manager someone you know well enough to have a candid professional conversation with? If the answers are no, you’re not helping your case by talking about things you don’t have full knowledge of. You have no idea how the manager you’re talking to has been dealing with the challenges he or she is faced with so don’t pretend you do. Just because someone wrote an article about it and you read it doesn’t mean you’re informed.

Use Social Wisely – Being frustrated that you didn’t get a job is fine. Everyone goes through it. Asking your friends and followers for advice on social of how you could’ve made a better case for yourself is good. That shows you’re trying to learn from the process to be better at it next time. But taking to social to write a book report blasting the hiring manager, their brand, and/or their company over a move that didn’t benefit you just tells them they made the right move by not bringing you in. Chances are, they won’t be calling you in the future either.

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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

Jason Barrett

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How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.

But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?

As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.

Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.

Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.

I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.

What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.

As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.

Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.

But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.

Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.

There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.

I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.

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