Sin City was electric last week, thanks to its usual festivities, and the arrival of the 2016 NAB Show. Over one hundred thousand people invaded the region to get a closer look at the future of broadcasting, and it didn’t disappoint.
Although radio had its moments, and fair share of quality sessions, it was hidden in the background. Crowds gathered for drones exhibits, video conferences, discussions on digital and social media, virtual reality sampling, and conversations with the world’s top media minds.
It was inspiring to see thousands of people gather in one area to appreciate the media industry. It restored my faith that many still value innovation and creating quality programming. Radio may lag behind in these categories at times, but other industries see it being essential to their future success. That’s refreshing.
Because I had four days with minimal distractions, I was able to observe a lot. I enjoyed eavesdropping on various radio sessions, and am still trying to comprehend how I managed to survive an entire trip in Vegas without emptying my wallet on casino slot machines. I spent less than five minutes playing, and didn’t participate until the final day of my stay. After six spins, I hit for $250 dollars, and proceeded to cash out. Not a bad way to end a great trip.
Leisure gambling has its pluses and minuses, but I’m not here to discuss that. Instead I want to share with you, what I took away from the NAB Show last week.
It was a solid experience, that I recommend checking out if you haven’t done so before. If the only thing you care to learn about is the radio business, then it might not be your cup of tea. Instead you may want to attend the NAB Radio Show this September in Nashville.
However, there’s a lot happening in this world. While my focus may be on the radio industry, I also enjoy taking advantage of opportunities to learn something new. If the world’s leading experts are going to gather in one city, and share secrets on how they’ve succeeded, then I’m going to soak up every ounce of knowledge they’ve got to offer because you never know when an idea or trend from one industry might become valuable to the one you make your living in. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy seeing drones perform up close?
Now on to the observations.
Mike and Mike – The ESPN Radio duo were inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame, the result of a successful seventeen year partnership on the nation’s largest sports radio network. Greeny and Golic not only deserved to be honored for what they’ve accomplished on the air, but the way they’ve conducted themselves as individuals during the course of their careers also speaks to their integrity and character as people.
Prior to the induction ceremony, CAA sponsored a pre-show gathering which was jam packed. Whether that was due to the Mike’s being present or free booze being available is up for debate. Mike and Mike gave an impromptu speech, and thanked everyone for being part of their special day. The room had its fair share of heavy hitters in it. Most of ESPN Radio’s management figures (Traug Keller, Dave Roberts) were in attendance, as were other broadcast leaders such as Dan Mason, Bill Hedrich, Jeff Smulyan, Greg Solk, and Bob Profitt.
When it was time to be recognized, the duo were introduced following a great video which captured the essence of their show during its seventeen year run. They expressed their gratitude to the NAB for recognizing the show and what it had accomplished, and offered a few doses of their humor during a short but effective speech.
One thing about Mike and Mike that many in our business overlook is how seamless they make everything look. For seventeen years they’ve woken up five days per week at three or four AM to go perform on radio. In 2004 they added a television simulcast which only further exposed the program. Now imagine having every one of your opinions, jokes, questions, or comedic bits under the world’s microscope every day. Anything they say or do can appear in print or be used against them by agents, players, teams, or their own company.
They have to serve multiple masters with different agendas while being socially active and responsible. Add in working with sponsors, and creating content that will fuel the radio department’s success online, and satisfy affiliates, plus traveling for road shows where they’ll be expected to interact with fans and local teams/clients during each day of the trip. I didn’t even mention yet the actual work of preparing, watching games, and trying to maintain some semblance of a family life.
How many shows could handle all of that? Many say they can, but it’s harder than you think.
It’s all of those reasons above why Mike and Mike are now members of the NAB Hall of Fame. Their induction ceremony was classy, and one of the highlights of the entire week.
Failing To Read The Room – During the course of one hour, Kim Komando managed to reel in an audience, only to lose them. Her command of the stage was strong. Her knowledge and passion for her brand, and the industry was sharp. But over preparation, and an inability to adjust sucked the air out of the room. Not exactly the way you want to setup a Hall of Fame induction for two popular personalities.
I felt bad for Kim because if this were a normal conference, she’d have passed with flying colors. But many in this room were there to see Mike and Mike enter the Hall of Fame. Picking this day to present an hour long infomercial on the Kim Komando show reflected poor judgment. I witnessed multiple CEO’s and executives switch from being invested in her commentary to getting annoyed. A few even left the room. I could be wrong but I don’t recall her saying a word at the end about Mike and Mike. I asked multiple people and they didn’t hear it either.
Because Kim’s speech dragged, it caused the session to run past its scheduled time, and reduced Mike and Mike’s time on stage. Kim is very talented, and has an excellent story to share, but if there’s a lesson to be learned, less is more. Be ready to abandon the script. If you don’t, you’ll lose the crowd, and your message will fall on deaf ears.
The Las Vegas Sports Radio Scene – I had an opportunity to run into two old friends during my visit. Mitch Moss, who produced for me at 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, now hosts middays on ESPN 1100. Matt Perrault, who I’ve known for a over a decade and auditioned for me once in St. Louis at 101 ESPN, hosts evenings on Yahoo Sports Radio.
What I didn’t realize before my journey to Las Vegas was how many sports stations operate in the city. There are seven stations listed as operators of the format. Granted, most of them are national brands, but that is still too many for a market which has under 2 million people residing in it.
If there’s one benefit, it’s that the city receives some of the best tourism support anywhere in the country. That makes it easier to create effective promotions and remotes for local stations. It also further provides evidence to the NFL and NHL that the city could be financially productive if either league elects to move one of its teams there in the future.
Networking – If there’s one major benefit of heading to a show like the NAB, it’s the opportunity to meet and mingle with numerous people in the industry who you might not normally run into. That’s one of the real joys of the experience for yours truly. Spending time with Kraig Kitchin, making small talk with Fred Jacobs, Dan Mason, and Michael Fiorile, catching up with old ESPN teammates Ray Necci, Amanda Gifford, Pete Gianesini, Liam Chapman, and Justin Craig are all part of what made the trip memorable.
I was surprised though by how many broadcast executives I ran into seemed to be in a rush to get out of each room. I realize that not every conversation is going to be fruitful but if you’re going to take the flight, stay in a hotel room, and engage in hour long sessions discussing the future of radio and why it’s a business people should want to be involved in, you should probably allow for some time to indulge the audience afterwards. This is their opportunity to meet you, compliment your work, and ask a question or two. There’s no harm in that right?
Guys like Erik Hellum of Townsquare, and Jeff Smulyan of Emmis were gracious with their time, so I don’t want to paint a picture that lumps everyone in as being distant. That wouldn’t be fair. I’ve been in this industry for twenty years, and fortunate enough to foster enough relationships that I don’t need the extra face time, but for those who don’t travel much, and are new to the business or considering entering it, the way they’re treated during face to face discussions can impact whether or not they pursue a career in our industry.
It’s silly to take the stage and express concern about a lack of interest in the industry from younger people, but then hightail out of the building when they ask for a few minutes of your time. Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of this then I should, but I bet people will take notice when the next Steve Jobs chooses a different line of work because he or she was turned off by the way radio people responded to their request for time.
Joe DiMaggio used to say “you never know who’s watching you for the first time, so always give your best”. That’s some great free advice for some of our people to consider.
Appreciating Innovation – Fred Jacobs moderated a session on innovation which featured Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan, NPR COO Loren Mayor, and National Radio Talent System CEO Dan Vallie. While each participant spoke on behalf of their organizations and the numerous things they were doing, the one who connected most with me was Smulyan. That’s probably because he was the one person with enough guts to launch an all-sports format in New York when everyone told him it was a stupid idea which had no chance to succeed.
He used that same mentality to launch the first hip-hop station Power 106 in Los Angeles, which was also thought to be another one of his terrible ideas. Now, he’s facing similar backlash for his belief in the Next Radio app.
Truth be told, I don’t know if his latest project will or won’t pass the sniff test. Many have poked holes in the project, and some of the criticisms are valid. However, I can appreciate that Smulyan is taking a risk to try and make industry measurement better.
Often we complain about radio not receiving its full share of listening, and sales people and market manager’s everywhere cling to old articles which tout radio’s massive 93% reach. The reality though is that the ratings system is tremendously flawed. I refuse to accept that what we have provided to us from Nielsen is the best that we can do.
If Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter, and iTunes can figure out how to measure their audio and video offerings, and provide excellent analytics for clients, than radio should be able to do the same. We see advanced data with our mobile and digital sessions, so why can’t the quality of measurement for over the air listening be the same?
The Next Radio App might be the solution radio needs, or it might not. That Smulyan is willing to bet on it, and invest his time and resources to make it work speaks to his confidence in the product. Many people talk about innovation, but few have the scars to prove they’re trying. Jeff not only sets the example for his company, but he does so for many in the industry. That alone gets my respect and appreciation.
Millennials – I apologize in advance if this comes across as negative, but it’s time for radio to take a good hard look in the mirror when it comes to talking about how to reach the younger generation. For starters, work needs to be done on the arrangement of some of these panels. Rather than rolling out the same industry people again and again, how about including some members who actually live, breathe, and speak the lingo of the audience that the industry claims it wants to reach?
No disrespect, but how many sessions on reaching millennials must be staffed by members who are above fifty and sixty years old? Do we honestly believe that younger people are going to take their cues from people that don’t live their lives the same way? It’s no different than telling someone older to take their cues on investments, and retirement from a twenty year old.
I’ve spent the past six to eight years attending multiple conferences, and every single time I go, I’m left befuddled by the image crisis that plagues radio. We talk about the future, and being ahead of the curve, yet those who think that way, and are likely to create the next big thing that helps our industry are left back in their studios.
There’s something to gain from every single person who speaks on a panel, so I want to be clear that this isn’t only about age. I believe that including an older perspective in the conversation is important. But, when variety isn’t provided, and a mixture of opinions, ages, genders and races isn’t offered, you miss the whole point.
For radio to succeed, it has to reach everyone. You can’t do that when the chosen mouthpieces come from the same neighborhood and fail to relate to those living in other locations. There are enough people in this business to create thought provoking discussion. I’d like to see the organizers of these conferences work harder to produce original sessions that provide a variety of personalities and opinions and leave everyone in the room thinking.
Right now there’s a lot of butt kissing, rah-rah speeches, and solutions coming from one side of the street. If radio really wants to move forward, and reach young people, it has to be open to hearing their perspectives, and involving others who actively shape our brands each day. I’ve heard many industry folks complain about these issues at each conference I’ve attended. It’s time something was done to make these sessions balanced and valuable rather than using them to reward our industry friends.
What About The Product? – The final issue that stood out during this conference was one that people at the higher levels may not even realize is happening. CEOs, Corporate Executives, and Market Managers focus their discussions on sales, investments, expenses, radio’s increased listening percentages, and the importance of growing digital and mobile revenue.
But, do you know which one area isn’t mentioned? Their products!
It’s the brand, and the programming it provides that leads a person to listen, and grow from being a casual fan to a station advocate. Without highlighting the reason why we matter to audiences, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.
The majority of people who attend these conferences want to learn why your brands matter, what you do to make them unique, how you’re positioning yourself in the digital space, and where you see the future. They want to absorb your passion for radio, not be treated to a sermon on business acquisitions, and why you’re debt-free or considering bankruptcy.
So why does this happen?
The honest answer is that most radio executives are removed from the product development portion of their organizations. They are focused on big picture growth, finding ways to monetize their investments, and networking with various industry people to help advance the company. They perk up and offer more opinion when digital is raised as a topic, but that’s because they see the majority of business heading in that direction, and they know they have to play in that space to warrant a larger piece of the revenue pie.
Look around the industry today and you’ll find numerous operations run by people with strong sales backgrounds. There’s nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, understanding business and how to make money is an important aspect of the job.
But so is recognizing what makes your brand’s special, and the reasons why they succeed. If an organization’s leader doesn’t have a passion and understanding about the brand’s they’re responsible for, and why they matter, they’re missing out on the most important sale of all. It’s easy to toss around catchphrases like “content is king”, and maybe you’ll hide out in the weeds for a while and trick people, but at some point, listeners and advertisers start to vacate and results begin to dip if they sense you’re unattached to your products.
Can you imagine if Facebook didn’t have Mark Zuckerberg or Apple never had Steve Jobs? The reason why companies like Apple, and Facebook (two of the best of all-time) have been a giant success is because they were run by people who understood business but had a deep passion and connection to the product.
If you look at the annual keynote addresses provided by both groups, they’re well attended, and covered by various national media outlets because people genuinely want to hear what they have planned for the future. It’s easy to buy in and see the vision because the discussion revolves around the product, the future, and how each brand will work to further satisfy its consumer’s growing wants and needs. They focus on innovation, and pleasing their fans, not their investors. It’s the old adage “if you build it, they will come”.
Because they deliver fascinating products, it leads to results. Yes the business does matter, and each are in business to turn profits, but make no mistake about it, they succeed because of a vision for their brands, and an ability to passionately communicate it to those who pay attention.
Now imagine Tim Cook (Jobs’ successor) or Zuckerberg leading one of these radio conferences. They’d be given a stack of papers to explain ratings growth, stock price activity, company debt, and how to generate more sales. When the subject of programming and product improvements are raised, they’d defer to someone else, because they don’t have the answers.
As I listened to numerous sessions where questions were asked to panel members about finding new talent, creating exclusive digital content, incorporating video into radio, and fighting off competition from Pandora, Spotify, and Satellite Radio, I heard a lot of generic replies, and a whole lot of insufficient details. That’s not a good look.
There are certain sessions during a media conference that will pass with flying colors (Fred Jacobs’ innovation session). There are other ones which will appeal to your personal interests (Mike and Mike enter the HOF). Unfortunately though I find myself leaving many of these trips with more questions than answers. I just hope the younger generation who are considering a career in our industry aren’t doing the same.
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.