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Striking While The Iron Is Hot

Jason Barrett

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Landing a job can be a very emotional and tiring process. In most cases, candidates wrestle with numerous questions about whether to stay or go, while trying to craft the perfect narrative to satisfy their fears about the future. They sometimes take weeks, and even months trying to determine if a new opportunity makes sense to accept.

Equally as challenging is the employer’s position. When a vacancy exists inside an operation, there’s a lot of disruptions that occur. It becomes difficult for other staff members because they’re usually asked to absorb a heavier burden, and depending on the position, it can lead to an increase in noise from the outside too.

In both instances, each side is tasked with one important responsibility – making the right choice!

But it doesn’t always work out that way.

oddsWhen you hire someone, you have a 50/50 chance of being right. The choice you make can leave you looking like a genius or the biggest fool in the office. You can research an individual, and talk to everyone under the sun about them, and while those conversations will offer insight to help you out, it still comes down to trusting your gut!

If you’re the candidate, it’s a similar gamble. You can look at the city you’re considering moving to and review the company’s previous hires, talk to people employed by the same organization in other cities, and even analyze the group’s stock performance if you wish, but when the moment comes to say yes, you’re going to do it based on the connection you’ve formed with the individual(s) offering you an opportunity.

Although every scenario is different, I’m a big believer in striking while the iron is hot. The longer a hiring process plays out, the worse it usually turns out. In many cases it also leads to the ‘hot candidate’ or ‘perfect job’ becoming less attractive.

When a company reaches out to discuss a possible fit, that initial inquiry tells you that they believe you are worth pursuing. How you click with the hiring team once you start talking indicates whether or not things will advance to the next level.

Assuming the discussions go well, it’s often followed up with a face to face meeting, and a ‘sales pitch’ on how great the situation could be if you were to get on board.

choiceAfter two sides lay out their negotiating points and find a middle ground, most companies will ask for a resolution. They may give you an extra day or two to think things over but then they expect an answer. If you’re not sold by this point, you may ask a few follow up questions to gain some extra feedback, but if what gets relayed doesn’t put your mind at ease to say yes and sign on the dotted line, then it’s not likely going to work out.

Now let’s look at it from the other side.

If you’re the employer and you’ve done your homework scouting a potential hire, you know pretty quickly if they have the skillset you’re looking for. You’ll review their work history, dig into their background to find out if there are any skeletons in their closet, and you may talk to some people who have worked with the candidate to make sure they’re someone worth sticking your neck out for.

Once that information is known, the real questions to be answered are whether or not you can connect as manager to employee, what the expectations of the position are, what you’re willing to do to help them experience success, and what the compensation package looks like. If those questions are met with resistance, and the two sides can’t find a happy medium, then it’s not going to be good for either party.

As the employer roleplays in their mind whether or not someone is the right fit to join the staff, they end up crossing people off the list the longer the process continues.

When you’re impressed and excited, you want to move fast so nobody else can get their hands on the prize that you’ve uncovered. Rather than move forward with uncertainty, you’re ready to cancel all other considerations because your mind, heart and gut are all telling you the same thing – the situation feels right. If that feeling isn’t there, it’s probably for a good reason.

dateIt’s similar to being a single male who meets a gorgeous woman. If you don’t act quickly to express your interest and ask her on a date, someone else will be right behind you ready to act. Once they do, you may never get another chance.

Let’s be clear about something – if a hiring manager doesn’t believe you’re a special individual or the right fit, that doesn’t mean you lack skill or wouldn’t be great elsewhere. So many partnerships in this business are the result of a strong fit and connection than they are about who possesses more talent.

Some applicants take it personally when the call doesn’t come their way, and while it can be frustrating when you have your hopes up and want to be part of a specific operation, the reality is that it’s not going to work out if the person making the call doesn’t have an unwavering belief, confidence and genuine excitement about having you on their staff.

I’m often asked by people and companies for input on candidates and possible openings and there are a few key things I believe are important as it pertains to this process.

First here are a few tips for the candidates.

  • Don’t pursue a position if you’re not willing to accept it: A lot of people like to feel important and receive an offer to make them feel good, but when push comes to shove, they’re not ready to accept. There’s nothing wrong with exploring your options, but before you put a hiring boss on the hook with their company for making you an offer, make sure you are committed to pursuing it. If you’re not, be up front with them that the likelihood of you accepting the offer is a long shot. You’ll gain more respect that way and you may even be surprised by how far the group will go to try and secure your services.
  • Pursue with passion but respect the hiring manager’s rules for communication: If they want more audio, send it. If they tell you don’t call, don’t. If they ask for a few days to respond, be patient. Even if you hear of others being given consideration for the job, remember that you’re not the only person they’re going to talk to. If your talent is great and you fit the bill for what they’re after, they’ll follow up. There’s a fine line between persistence and annoyance. Don’t cross it and cost yourself an opportunity.
  • Have an understanding of what matters to you most in the job you’re seeking: If you make your wish list and it shows “money, length of commitment, and great city with warm weather” as your three most important elements, and the company pursuing you checks those boxes, you can understand their frustration if you don’t accept. It’s one thing to not explore a job because the money wasn’t right, the commitment was thin, or the neighborhoods don’t align with your preferred choice of living, but whether it’s three, four or five key items, know what they are, and press the hiring group on them so you have the clarity you need in making your decision.

Now let’s take a look at things from the position of the employer.

  • Know what you’re looking for before you start the process: If you’re drawn to someone who makes you laugh and is less confrontational, say that. If you prefer the opposite, say that too. Hiring managers want great talent and a guarantee of future success but it starts with the specifics. Think about the qualities you’re drawn to in others, what you want your brand and people to represent, how you want them to approach their jobs, and then focus on the candidates who fit the bill. There’s a lot of talent out there but you can’t identify the right one until you know what you’re searching for.
  • Investigate, communicate, and set a date: When you have an opening, your focus turns to finding a solution. If you had a gash on your arm you wouldn’t wait to get it stitched up and it’s no different with filling a hole on your staff. Turn over every stone you can so you have a thorough understanding of the person you’re considering hiring. Talk to friends, family, colleagues, competitors, and get a true sense of who it is you’re considering forming a partnership with. Then, set a deadline so others in your company know what can be expected, and you can hold yourself accountable to deliver a solution. As you engage with candidates, stick to your word if you promise a follow up call or email. If you’re not interested, communicate that too. Transparency is important in staying on track and maintaining respect with those who apply. Remember, people talk to other people. You don’t want to damage your reputation by not handling things that were under your control.
  • Don’t offer the job unless you’re 100% sure it’s the person you want: I’ve advised a few people on certain jobs and on three different occasions, a company has offered a position, only to rescind it afterwards. That’s not only bad business but it’s disrespectful. It’s also the type of decision making that leads me to caution others on pursuing work with those organizations. If a manager isn’t sold on someone or is having buyer’s remorse, that’s understandable. But remember that your credibility and reputation are on the line once you make the call. If you’re unsure, don’t make an offer. You can still discuss salary requirements, the length of a contract, and job specifics without an agreement. If you want the responsibility of hiring people, then take it seriously. Don’t mess with someone’s emotions or risk causing damage to their family or current job by not being sure if you want them on your staff. They’ll respect and appreciate you more for walking away than if you make a promise you can’t deliver on.

When you think about the challenges of hiring or going to work for a new company, picture being in the middle of the process between an NFL or MLB franchise, and a key Free Agent or Head Coach.

chipOnce the world knows that a player or coach is available, word trickles out and teams begin doing their due diligence. They’ll investigate what an individual brings to the table, how they believe they’d fit the team, and then after they gain some insight into what that person is seeking in terms of salary and length of commitment, they’ll make a decision on whether or not to move forward.

Once they know they’re interested, that’s when the madness begins.

Soon the visits are scheduled, conversations are had on a deeper level, and in the matter of a few hours, people are making life changing decisions. Rarely do you see these situations linger for weeks or months.

Each free agent enters a facility knowing that they could be signing a long term commitment that day. There’s no extended window offered to review the school system, the daily commute time, or the leisure spots in the area for the family. Those are things that people adjust to.

Instead the focus is on these key factors:

  • Are they meeting my salary requirements
  • Are they offering enough security (length) to ease my mind
  • Do I believe they’re committed to winning and possess a strong vision
  • Do I click with the boss and feel we can have a good working relationship

If those four boxes get checked, then it’s up to the individual to process the information in their head, talk to their family, trust their gut, and make the call. They could be making a big mistake or it could be the beginning of their own personal nirvana. Regardless of how it turns out in the future though, a decision has to be made in the present.

I see too many situations pop up where companies spend months looking for the perfect candidate, only to stunt their growth, disrupt their inner workings, and slow down business, all because they were gunshy on making a hire. You do more damage dragging out a process than you do by making a decision and having to adjust down the road.

nervousThere’s a feeling of nervousness inside most hiring managers because nobody wants to make the wrong move. That’s a natural feeling and it shows that you care about your company and want to do the right thing. But you can feel good enough to hit Powerball on the day you hire someone, and there still remains a strong possibility that you may have swung and missed.

The same applies to any person exploring a new opportunity. You can feed your ego and boost your confidence by pursuing opportunities and you may even gain a contract offer, but remember that the feeling of being the shiny new toy eventually goes away.

Making a decision to leave one place for another just because you don’t feel appreciated is fine, but make sure first that you’ve addressed the situation with your current company, and understand how they view you, where you stand, and what your ceiling is. Too often people leave situations in search of greener grass, only to find that it doesn’t exist.

As cliche as it sounds, we work in the communication business yet struggle to communicate. We’d rather reject a boss and blame them for our lack of development instead of seeking them out and challenging them to make us better. We’d rather chase the bigger immediate paycheck than look at how staying put will pay greater long term dividends.

riskAnd companies are often guilty of the same thing. They’d rather do less investigating, and hire the person with the longer resume and safer track record, than bet on someone less familiar with more talent and a higher upside. It’s easier to do what others have done, and protect your spot, than stand in the line of fire by attempting to do something great and different.

Regardless of the side you’re on, the bottom line in all of this is to do your homework, know what you’re looking for, find a middle ground, and when the conversations intensify, be ready to make a commitment. The longer you wait, the more you will talk yourself out of things, and the less likely you will be to work together. That could be a devastating blow, or a blessing in disguise. Your chances of being right are 50/50!

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BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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