Steve Jobs once said “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” and he was exactly right. When a new product or piece of content is created and promoted through audio and visual platforms, it often leads to increased curiosity from the consumer. With each additional marketed message, the audience becomes more emotionally attached, and soon that intrigue leads to a sale or an investment of their time. It’s this very formula that fuels the growth of the music, sports, and entertainment industries.
When Jobs introduced the Apple computer, iPod, and iPhone, people lined up to purchase each product because they believed in the possibilities of what those products represented. They had no knowledge of how they’d work because they’d yet to use them, but because they were marketed well and ignited the consumer’s interest, it led to massive sales, and made Apple one of America’s most successful companies.
It was that same approach that led 30 NFL owners to change direction and throw their support behind Rams owner Stan Kroenke when he was looking to move his team from St. Louis to Los Angeles earlier this year. Kroenke had to overcome competition from the Raiders and Chargers to turn the tide in his favor, and to do so, he let a room full of billionaires see the vision and fall in love with its possibilities.
“One of the most important things that nailed it (Tuesday) is that we just kept showing them pictures,” Kroenke said. “People love pictures. And what those pictures showed was the thought and the development and the plan, and the depth of the thought.”
When a great idea is captured visually, it becomes more enticing to the consumer. It percolates in their minds and fuels their curiousity. This is what drives large activity and interest in social and digital media.
Throughout the years, radio has been consistently late to the party when new ideas have been introduced. Whether it was the creation of websites, streaming, mobile listening, or the use of social media marketing, there’s always been a wait and see approach rather than a dive right in mentality. Whether that’s due to tunnel vision, a shortage of resources, or a fear of compromising its own success over the airwaves, the reality is that radio often plays catch up in a world that thrives on innovation and longs for the next big thing.
For this piece, I want to focus on the surge of social and digital media and how radio is operating in each space. It’s clearly where people are and where future business is moving, and although many brands are represented in these circles, they also lack vision and strategy.
Quite honestly, we are not innovating enough on these platforms. Our creativity and repurposing of content leaves a lot to be desired. We’re providing a basic experience and relying on the medium itself to save us, rather than understanding what must be done in the space to enjoy success.
I don’t say this to hurt feelings but rather to enlighten many who may not recognize how many missed opportunities are occurring and how damaging it can be. With digital media projected to rake in 38-45% of all media ad spending between 2017-2020 (the most of any platform) and radio slotted for only 6-7%, you can see why it’s more important than ever to be crisp and creative in these places.
I browsed thirty radio station accounts (coast to coast) on Facebook and Twitter, and only two of them promoted their podcasts on their social media accounts. The writing for promoting those podcasts lacked any call to action for the listener “Podcast Hour 1 of the ____ show”. No mention of the topics discussed or key headlines offered by the host and no teases for what the listener might learn if they listen.
If you’re including a link and expecting someone to leave the social media platform they’re on, then you’ve got to give them a reason to do so. Otherwise you’ll find those posts deliver lackluster results. Without clicks, your sales team is going to struggle to create a powerful narrative for advertisers who are shifting their radio spending into the digital arena.
As part of my research I discovered numerous radio station websites with mistakes on their websites, including their own lineups. News flash, Colin Cowherd is no longer on 10a-1p on ESPN Radio and Dan Le Batard’s show moved from 4pm over seven months ago.
I also learned that there are networks out there without a Facebook page and limited activity on Twitter. If these platforms are where your audience resides each day then how can you afford not to be present?
Some of our best shows are on the air for 20-25 hours per week. There’s a lot of opinion, humor, insight, and breaking news taking place during those hours, yet we lose sight of the fact that the audience isn’t consuming every minute of content that we provide. The material we create lives forever on our websites, but once the show is done, we assume everyone has heard it and consider the job complete once we upload the audio files onto the website.
However, we’re forgetting afterwards to promote our full hours, smaller audio clips, and special guest interviews. We also fail to use graphics to highlight big opinions, stories, and one-liners offered by our talent to redirect the audience back to our websites afterwards. Why? The content is available and the majority of the local population hasn’t heard it, but because the show ended when the host delivered their final word it’s no longer relevant? That’s a giant mistake.
I’ve mentioned this numerous times, but Jimmy Fallon’s show is a hit because it exists well beyond the window of which it airs on television. Each day it’s promoted throughout all social media platforms, and when quality content is available in smaller lengths, people make it a point to check it out. Even if they saw it the night before, if it was great, they’ll watch it again, and share it with their friends.
For radio, we hear something while we’re in the car or listening on our phone, and have no reason to share it on social media platforms because it’s not available. To showcase it, we have to log on to the station’s website, copy the link, go back to our social media accounts, incorporate the link and write a line or two about it, and then press send, rather than just click the share button because the radio station we listen to made it available.
If by chance it is available, it’s often a full hour of content and that’s less likely to generate a click. Radio rarely offers smaller chunks of audio to its audiences via social media, and when something is provided, it’s usually not followed up the next day or the day after. If you want people to consume your content, put it in the right places, make it quick and easy to consume, and offer it consistently.
Take a look at the way Zach McCrite promotes a guest’s appearance on the “Podcast About Sports Radio” and think about the way this could be utilized with your station and/or top talk show. Each day hosts on sports radio stations are delivering headline worthy opinions, interesting facts or stories about themselves, and welcoming guests who treat them to new information. With a little time, effort, creativity, and promotion on social platforms, you can engage your audience and draw them back to your content.
One other trend I unfortunately noticed during my research was how only a handful promoted their key talk shows prior to going on the air. Those who did, offered the daily guest list.
Nearly half provided minimal interactions during their shows too. If you have thousands of people following your brand on social media, is it not possible that a meter or two might be part of the group? All it takes is letting them know there’s something worthwhile to tune in for, and if they do, it can lead to your show gaining additional ratings credit.
As far as promoting the guest list is concerned, here’s the issue with it. Are you telling your audience that your host(s) doesn’t have something interesting, funny, or powerful for the audience to tune in for? Do you think that the only reason they put the dial on is because of who you booked? The names may look sexy, and certain guests do lead to tune-ins, but so does a powerful opinion, a piece of information the audience may not be aware of, an opportunity to win a big prize, or a chance to call in and interact with the show.
Rather than tossing out the usual “Today’s show includes Michael Irvin at 7:30am, Karl Ravech at 8:15am and Jerry Crasnick at 9:30am”, how about adding a popular question, topic, or fact with the guest to make it more intriguing? For example, “How would Adam LaRoche’s situation be handled in an NFL locker room? Michael Irvin’s answer at 7:30am will surprise you.”
Aside from promoting guests, there are many other layers inside of a talk show that are important to the audience, and when you look at a 9-12 segment show, if a guest occupies 3 of those segments, that means 6-9 others don’t include a guest. By not promoting other topics, stories, and opportunities to interact, you’re telling the audience to worry about 1/3 of your show, not the rest of it.
I came across this example from “The Swain Event” and while I believe it needs more detail to draw people in, I was impressed with the effort prior to the show to try and give the audience an idea of what was coming up. They didn’t type 140 characters and rely on text to engage people, they instead used a graphic to make it more visually appealing. With some improved detail on the chalkboard, this can lead to listeners looking forward to learning what’s coming up each day.
Next, if you’ve not been paying attention, Facebook has invaded the video space, and they’re determined to make sure that you have zero reason to leave their platform to use Periscope or any other video application. With their entry into the video world comes big opportunity for radio stations and talk show hosts.
We know the audience spends a large portion of their time each day on Facebook, and the interest in being a fly on the wall inside the studio has always been high. It’s why radio show simulcasts on television have been such a hit.
If you don’t have a television deal, this can be a great way to bring your audience on the inside and further promote your station and content. Depending on your radio station’s following on Facebook, you could end up with more people watching your video stream than they would a simulcast of your show on local television.
Something to keep in mind for the sales end of your operation, this could pay dividends for your clients too. Imagine if the host’s shirt was provided by a client. Or if they had a soft drink in front of them. Or a visual display behind them. The opportunities are endless.
Yes you can expect that Facebook is going to want their fair share of what you generate, but if advertisers are demanding your brand deliver bigger in social and digital spaces, this is an easy way to tap into it. Take a look at this example of the Haberman and Middlekauff show in San Francisco on 95.7 The Game who have already started video streaming daily.
You can already see how many views are coming in and as Facebook grows even bigger in the video world, you can expect the data will become even stronger for clients to take advantage of. One suggestion if you’re using this service, pay attention to the comments delivered by your listeners. If they’re taking the time to watch you, and trying to contribute to your program, they’re just as valuable as the person who’s taking the time to call your studio line while at work or in the car.
Although Facebook is powerful and expected to become an even bigger player in the video world, there are other video options available. Periscope for instance has been a huge attraction and plays perfectly with Twitter. With sports becoming a phenomenon in the Twittersphere, having your talent available in this location makes a ton of sense. It’s even better if you can find ways to incorporate your clients into it.
I was doing some digging and I stumbled across this example of what 106.7 The Fan in Washington DC is doing. Sports Anchor Pete Medhurst not only promotes and delivers his updates on Periscope and Twitter, but he also includes promotion for the sponsor and includes their twitter ID in his posts.
This shows the sponsor that they’re receiving their promotion, it makes them look good to those who follow the station and personality, and it’s non-intrusive which means the audience is less likely to be turned off by it. That’s very smart and something the sales team in DC can use with their clients to remind them that they’re incorporated into the radio station’s multi-media strategy.
Although some of these examples above show how we’re making strides to improve, we’ve still got to do a better job in how we highlight the content to get the audience interested in clicking our links. Too often station’s post links and headlines that leave little to be desired. You’ll see something like this: “Team X loses third straight”.
Ask yourself this, why would I click the link to that story on a radio station’s website, when ESPN, Yahoo, Sports Illustrated, Fox, Bleacher Report, and every other major national sports brand has the same result and likely more detail? If there’s no suspense or personalization, good luck driving large amounts of clicks.
If you think about the headline on the front page of a newspaper, it’s sole purpose is to get you to click the link and read the story. If you’re an old school individual who still likes to have the paper in their hand, they’re hoping to catch your eye and get you to buy the paper.
It’s that same mentality that’s needed when promoting your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your own website. If you peak the listener’s curiosity, you stand a chance of them reading or listening to the content. If your headline lacks imagination and any sort of hook, the chances of them spending time consuming it becomes less.
Take a look at the way ESPN promoted Chris Sale’s reaction to the Adam LaRoche story. The text in the photo combined with the written message in the body of the post, displays great drama and makes you want to see what Sale said. ESPN even puts the word “WATCH” in capital letters to make sure you know that video exists and should be seen.
This story was popular and relatable to most people, and the way ESPN highlighted it increased their chances of gaining additional clicks.
The reason we spend the time creating content is to get an audience to consume it. When listeners become attached to our programming, that makes them attractive to advertisers, which allows our companies to capitalize on their listening and ultimately create a business. The focus for many in programming may not be on the bottom line but without positive results, there is no programming to offer.
If there’s two key things to takeaway from this column, it should be that content lives beyond your shift, and it must be distributed and promoted in a much more creative way across multiple locations consistently. The growth in digital is massive and it’s where the world’s listening and spending are headed. If radio isn’t dominant in this space, it’s going to have limited appeal and miss out on larger economic opportunities.
To those who are hosting or producing a show, think about the content you create and the multiple ways it can be promoted. That means using social media to promote your material before the show, during the show, and after the show. That includes providing long-form audio, shorter clips of memorable content, interviews, and anything else that’s clickworthy. Help yourself by taking notes during the show so the best stuff you create doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Anytime you can provide an image to help your material cut through the clutter, it’s highly recommended. If providing a plain text post leads to a 3 out of 10 response, and a visual post doubles your chances, isn’t it worth it to put the extra time in to create something that intrigues your audience? Similar to the Podcast About Sports Radio example, here’s something 101 ESPN in St. Louis did to highlight the opinions of their hosts.
When you see this type of graphic, it peaks your curiosity. The text involves drama and leaves you wanting to learn more about the subject. These type of moments though get lost because we don’t think enough about how to use shorter content as a tool to increase consumption. If we’re listening to our talent, and maximizing the massive amounts of great content they produce during a show, we’ll thrive in the digital space.
Remember, there are few platforms generating 16-24 hours of live sports content per day. Every minute becomes an opportunity. The issue for our industry in social and digital arenas has never been a lack of quality material. It’s our own lack of awareness and reliance on doing what’s acceptable instead of what’s remarkable.
If we utilize our creativity, deliver consistently, and provide a little extra TLC to the various ways we can highlight our content on these platforms, we’ll satisfy the needs of the audience and make ourselves and our business viable and necessary. Our future earning potential depends on the way we adapt to this challenge. Let’s hope for all of our sakes that radio doesn’t repeat its previous mistakes.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?
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.