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The Challenge of Replacing High Profile Personalities

Jason Barrett

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In light of the recent news of Colin Cowherd leaving ESPN, I thought it’d be a good time to take a look at the challenges of replacing a major brand name, why personalities leave and how the process works.

The reality in today’s media world is that any great talent who works for a brand and delivers results is going to be desired by another company at some point. While a GM, PD and Host may start off a relationship with the intent of enjoying a career lasting relationship together, the truth is that people who perform, like to be desired, and those positive feelings get tested when other competitors enter the equation and start throwing larger dollars, more flexibility and more control their way.

russoFor example, if you were a New York sports radio fan, you likely grew up on Mike and the Mad Dog and would never picture them apart, even though they may have had their personal differences. Yet when Sirius XM entered the conversation with a large chunk of money and building a network around Chris’ brand name, Russo’s stay with Mike came to an end after nineteen years.

If you grew up on ESPN and enjoyed watching Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann own SportsCenter and make it must-see sports television, you’d believe they’d be there forever. Well not only did Keith leave to work for Fox Sports, TBS, MSNBC and a few other groups but Dan did as well. Today Dan has rebuilt his brand through multiple outlets. He has a TV deal for the radio show with DirecTV, a radio deal with Premiere Radio Networks, a TV anchor position for NBC’s Sunday Night Football, he appears frequently in Aadm Sandler films and he has a content arrangement with Sports Illustrated.

romeRemember the powerful sixteen year relationship between Jim Rome and Premiere Radio Networks? It was thought to be unbreakable. Until it was. Jim was courted to head to CBS and he jumped ship to host his radio show for the CBS Sports Network, make television appearances on CBS’ bigger sporting events and host his own television program for Showtime.

In all three cases, the talent were very successful, built a large following with sports fans and other media companies took notice and were prepared to compete to lure them away. When each of these personalities were given more money, more flexibility and more control, they exited the places where they had built their brand name and value. And you can’t blame any of them because most people would do the exact same thing.

Keep in mind, this isn’t only happening on the network levels or in market #1. This happens in many other cities as well. Nobody knows that reality more than myself as I had to go through a number of changes with 95.7 The Game in San Francisco plus a few in St. Louis too.

EDWhen I was overseeing The Game, we launched with an afternoon show hosted by Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis. Like with any new relationship, they had their fair share of challenges but they also had a lot of talent and a strong sound. It was easy to see pretty quickly that if they could stick it out together they had the potential to have a lot of success.

However, one year into the relationship Eric was pursued by the NFL Network and they were offering morning drive, major exposure across the country and a lot of money. Given Eric’s background as a former NFL player this made all the sense in the world for him to explore and while it personally sucked for myself, Brandon and our company, if any of us had been in that same situation we’d have done the same exact thing and left. While the intent wasn’t to leave, the opportunity was too great for E.D to pass up.

One thing I’ve learned as a manager is that as hard as it may be at the moment to see the solution and while it may be personally exhausting dealing with the backlash of losing a popular personality from a passionate audience, eventually the show does go on, another great personality joins the team and fills the void, and you can still have success.

prosconsWhat’s important when going through one of these situations is to not let your emotions get in the way of decision making. Those in my inner circle will learn of my passion and opinions on the situation but once it’s time to get down to business and move forward, that becomes the focus. When you let your personal feelings get in the way of business it’s usually a bad omen. While decisions may not always be popular, it’s about growing an audience and being profitable – not just satisfying the audience! People often forget that this is a business and the last time I checked, nobody stays in business long if they’re not making money.

Once I know a personality has made a choice to move on and I know the company has done everything it can to retain them, it’s on to the next plan. I don’t have time to waste and my employer, our clients and our audience are expecting a solution. I’ll normally take a few hours to clear my head and let the emotions of the situation subside, think about what could be potentially exciting and great if we could pull it off, start compiling a list of potential targets, and then begin making phone calls and sending emails to see what’s possible.

BTBucherThe second I knew Eric was gone, my focus turned towards how to surround Brandon with a strong partner, who to target for the audition process and what the timeline should be for filling the vacancy. Over the next 4-6 weeks I’d bring in Ric Bucher, Mychael Urban, Gary Payton, Rod Woodson, Jon Ritchie and Lincoln Kennedy for tryouts and we ultimately felt Bucher was the best fit of the bunch to fit with Brandon and replace Eric.

Unfortunately I had to go through that same process a couple of other times over the next two years as a number of high profile personalities were either sought out for their abilities by larger networks or they wanted to explore a change in their careers and while we got through it and put the brand in a strong position, it was very challenging and not a lot of fun.

bernieI can go on and on about a number of these situations because they’re more common than you realize. In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz left his radio show which was a giant void for 101 ESPN. My understudy and current PD Chris Neupert came out of that situation with flying colors though as he moved Chris Duncan from the afternoon show and paired him with Anthony Stalter while replacing Duncan’s Cardinals presence on the afternoon show with Brad Thompson. While I’m sure he’d have preferred to have Bernie stay and continue dominating the market in middays, he found another way to succeed once it was understood that Bernie wasn’t going to continue.

If there’s one positive going through a process like this, it’s that it really does test your resolve and allow you to find out what you’re made of. I look at it as a personal challenge and opportunity to do something big. Word of advice to those in hiring positions – if you don’t like pressure, do something else. The process will cause you to lose sleep, tear your insides apart and you’ll have every set of eyes inside and outside of your building watching you and waiting to see how you adapt. One sign of weakness and you can lose the confidence of the room. If you can’t perform with your back to the wall there are many other jobs with less stress.

sklarOne of the fun parts of this process is allowing yourself to think outside the box. Let’s be honest, high profile athletes, broadcasters and entertainers aren’t browsing your company’s website checking the jobs section to find you, so if you have an idea, it’s your job to find them, explain your idea and get a sense if it’s something worth exploring. I’ve had the pleasure of having discussions with people I’d never have imagined talking with about a local sports radio show but when you open up your mind, anything is possible. The old saying applies, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward so you can never be afraid of being ballsy.

That makes for a perfect segway because I don’t know of any ballsier of a move than replacing Tony Kornheiser at the ESPN Radio network with an unknown commodity named Colin Cowherd but that’s what Bruce Gilbert did in 2006 and here we are ten years later talking about Colin’s upcoming departure and how it’ll be a major blow to ESPN.

cutbudgetSo that leads us to the obvious question “how does ESPN survive without him“? The answer is simple – the same way they have before when they’ve lost Tony Bruno, Tony Kornheiser, Dan Patrick and Scott Van Pelt. But this time they’ll have to do it with shackles around their ankles due to Disney’s mandate to reduce expenses.

Does it suck to lose Colin? Yes. He’s a dynamite talent and one of the industry’s best. Does it make you question what’s happening at the four letter network when you see Scott Van Pelt and Colin both leave radio shows within a few months in addition to the television staff losing Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann? Yes. But they’re still the largest sports media company in the world and they’re always going to have talent options to consider so do I expect them to come out of this and make a solid hire? I do.

That doesn’t mean the show will be as good as Colin’s or a good fit for the markets where his show aired but they will have options. For example, internally they have Dan Le Batard who could be moved up, they’ve got Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley in Los Angeles who they could consider and they’ve got every other sports broadcaster on the planet looking at Colin’s vacancy as the launching pad for their career much like Colin saw it that way when he replaced Kornheiser.

What I do think is a bigger concern for ESPN at this time isn’t whether they’ll fill Colin’s void. It’s how do they keep their revenue stable when advertisers are losing the high profile personality brands they’ve associated their products with. Usually when a major change is made, clients take a wait and see approach or invest less during the interim period.

berryOne other challenge for ESPN will be, how many of their radio affiliates will continue clearing Colin’s timeslot if Colin isn’t there? Let’s face it, stations who clear network programming are doing it because it reduces expenses for hiring talent and because it offers a high profile name that the audience will be familiar with. If the radio station clearing the show doesn’t see the replacement as a strong option (ex: Tirico replacing Patrick) they’ll pull the plug and put in a local show. This just happened yesterday as Arizona Sports 98.7FM struck immediately by naming former NFL superstar Bertrand Berry to replace Colin’s spot in Phoenix.

The other factor that plays into this is how does Colin’s replacement fit the market where the show is being cleared? One of the positives that Colin brought was that he had a strong west coast style which was an alternative to the network’s east coast heavy presentation. If his replacement though is heavily invested in Yankees-Red Sox talk or things that don’t have appeal beyond the east coast, and you’re a station clearing the show in California, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona or Washington, that may cause stations to battle the network and force change with their programming options.

ESFoxAnd if that wasn’t enough to consider, if you run a station who has a relationship with ESPN Radio and you’ve carried Colin’s program and received solid ratings or revenue from it, what will you do when his program is pitched by Fox Sports and you have to choose between adding Colin and losing your ESPN brand affiliation or keeping the affiliation and losing access to his show?

Those are the types of decisions that keep programmers and executives up at night and while they’re not fun or easy to tackle, the great ones find a way to navigate through the difficulty. Nobody has done that better in sports radio circles than Mark Chernoff who had to overcome losing Don Imus and Chris Russo at WFAN and both times wound up with higher performing programs (Boomer & Carton and Mike Francesa). That’s the task that awaits ESPN and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond since this is unfamiliar territory.

dlrWhile I’m sure today is a difficult day for the ESPN brass, a lot can be fixed by making a series of strong programming decisions. On the other hand, they can’t afford to make any move similar to the one CBS made years ago when they replaced the departing Howard Stern with David Lee Roth. Too much is at stake. Given the recent PR facing ESPN due to the departures of Olbermann, Simmons and Cowherd, now would be a good time to hit a homerun and remind people why they are the biggest brand in sports entertainment.

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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Barrett Blogs

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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