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Takeaways From The Podcast Movement Conference

Jason Barrett

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Chicago is a fascinating city with incredible views and strong spirit. It’s one of my favorite places to travel to in the country. So when I learned that the Podcast Movement Conference was being held there, I knew it was a trip I had to make. The feedback on last year’s event was positive and as the world’s appetite for audio grows on a daily basis, I figured there’d be some valuable lessons to learn.

FullSizeRender (17)Although the windy city was transformed for a few days into the home for heat and humidity, that didn’t temper the enthusiasm inside the halls and rooms of the Hyatt Hotel. People were genuinely excited to be in town for the event and many of them were relatively inexperienced in the podcasting space but hungry to learn more.

From session to session content creators and podcasting executives discussed the benefits of storytelling, passion, artistry, self-expression, and engagement. Observers listened and asked questions geared towards helping them produce better content to further connect with audiences and advertisers. There was even a stronger showing of support from the radio industry which many who I spoke to considered a positive step for the podcasting industry.

Much of the credit for the event’s success belongs to Dan Franks and his staff. The sound quality was excellent, the speaker’s were great, the light displays and stage structures looked sharp, and the materials given to those who attended were helpful. Even the sign in process was smooth. They say preparation is half the battle in delivering a great event and the organizers of the conference had their act together.

FullSizeRender (18)However, there were a few things that I believe can still be improved, specifically in the sports radio universe. Did you know that of all the attendees at this year’s conference, only 4% came from the sports and recreation field? If myself and wrestler Colt Cabana didn’t attend I wonder if that number would’ve been 2% or lower. Aside from the weak showing by sports attendees, there were a few other items that caught my attention. Some were positive, some were not. Here are some of those key takeaways.

Attendance/Enthusiasm – One of my favorite parts of this experience was simply observing how invested people were in the conference. There were nearly two thousand people in attendance and a genuine joy was felt throughout the room. Attendees were eager to listen, ask questions and take the knowledge back home and apply it. Some of that is the result of inexperience but it also reminded me that the passion for creating and listening to audio programming remains alive and well.

pmc2Compared to most radio conferences I’ve attended, this one had a better energy in each room. People valued the advice being provided by each expert, and seemed proud to be associated with the event. It felt like a three day celebration for a family of podcasters.

This is an issue for many current radio conferences. Industry folks attend them with preconceived notions of what will take place and they leave without being surprised. The same old cliches are offered repeatedly (content is king, distribution is queen, play the hits, radio is a thriving business, etc.) and it’s debatable whether the majority of people are excited to be there or view it as an opportunity to get away from home for a few days and reconnect with industry friends outside of each session.

Networking is certainly important but a better presentation on-stage featuring some new names, faces, and voices might keep people a little more interested.

PMC4Speakers and Panels – Upon entering this conference I knew only one of the featured speakers – Kevin Smith. His performance alone is worthy of an entire column but that will have to wait for now. I didn’t get to hear everyone, but I did walk away impressed by Smith, Glynn Washington, Alex Blumberg, and Anna Sale. Each focused on something unique and important to them and gave those in attendance a lot of information worth using and sharing.

Sale, hosts a podcast called “Death, Sex, and Money” and focused on the similarities between creating a podcast and having a baby. She shared advice on starting a show, building a community, developing a brand, and improving the content. Her point about each host needing a good editor and being willing to share their messy drafts and accept critical feedback was on point because it’s exactly what a good talk show host does when working with a producer. If you think a producer’s there simply to screen calls, dial up the guest and fetch you coffee, then you’re missing out on the benefits of their involvement.

Washington meanwhile, hosts a podcast called “Snap Judgment” and instantly got my attention when he uttered the line “I don’t care about podcasting….I care about stories“. Given that we were at a podcasting conference, the room quickly took notice. He focused his time on the power of storytelling and shared details of his personal experiences while providing a few interesting video samples. One in particular of storyteller Josh Healey really stood out. You can watch it by clicking here.

glynnWhat I loved about Washington’s speech was that it was deep, authentic, and powerful. He dove into the troubles happening in the world and described how storytelling can help in the healing process and influence change. He compared telling a story to picking scabs, and reminded the room that the best stories are developed from smaller events.

Then came my personal favorite, Kevin Smith. The filmmaker and actor took the stage to explain why he loves podcasting and how he got started. From the second he took the microphone to his final word, he had the audience on the edge of their seats. Smith was passionate, informative, funny and unfiltered and caused many to laugh, listen, and even cringe as he worked in at least one F-bomb every 5-10 words. His swearing was so over the top that attendees took to Twitter to engage in dialogue with others in the room about how many curse words he’d deliver by the end of his session.

Tossing out F-bombs doesn’t make a speech unique, but his style and insight was refreshing. Kevin talked about his enthusiasm for the podcasting platform and related his success at it to the way he navigated through a successful filmmaking career. He offered a lot of life advice and memorable quotes that could have easily filled up the walls of many NFL locker rooms.

ks4Along the way Smith served up some doozies including ‘failure is just success training‘, ‘there are two paths, creation and destruction‘, and ‘the first step to self-expression is losing the fear‘. He encouraged people to not be afraid to create a podcast and reminded them that the beauty of doing it is that it doesn’t require talent. As many wondered aloud how that could be, Smith brought it home by adding ‘it takes talent to build the walls inside this room and get stuff not to fall down, but it doesn’t take talent to have a conversation…it doesn’t even take talent to stand on a movie set and play Batman. Ben Affleck f’ing did it.’

Blumberg closed things out by discussing the future of podcasting, the reasons people seek out audio content, and the buzz words that are part of a successful podcast. His line “The first golden age of audio was radio, the second is podcast” drew a strong response and it was clear that he’s very optimistic about where the podcasting business is headed.

I particularly enjoyed his discussion on the power of empathy and how audio/radio can be an agent of empathy and understanding to help the world heal. He highlighted audio’s ability to provide stronger narrative and companionship than any other form of media and his mixture of humor and intelligence struck the right balance and perfect tone for closing out a successful three day event.

FullSizeRender (22)Too Much Quantity Not Enough Quality – It’s no secret that the word ‘podcast‘ has become trendy in audio circles. Everyone is eager to do it and as much as I love the fact that there are thousands of new options for people to enjoy, it’s difficult to separate the good from the bad. Eric Nuzum who oversees the Audible division for Amazon put it best when he said it’s like going to a flea market and sifting through the trash to find the treasure.

In some ways it’s no different than YouTube where millions of people upload video content and some become future stars and others remain invisible. Does that matter? Should it matter? That depends on who you ask.

For the business to make a dent long-term it needs to offer more Adam Carolla’s and Bill Simmons’ to advertisers and audiences, and less Johnny and Freddy Broadcaster’s. It also needs to continue prying great talent from terrestrial radio, just as satellite radio has done over the past decade.

One area where this is a real problem is in the sports audio space. The quality of sports talk talent on radio compared to podcasting isn’t close. Podcasting companies don’t seem to be focused on sports even though it’s a massive business. I sat in sessions where Audible, Gimlet, Midroll, Spotify and other groups shared tips, ideas and details of forthcoming projects and none covered sports programming. The only time I heard it even mentioned was during a session which featured Traug Keller of ESPN Audio and Greg Strassell of Hubbard Radio. Why sports isn’t a bigger focus I’m not sure.

moneyRevenue and Growth – Arguably the biggest statement of the entire conference was that radio is a 2 billion dollar annual business whereas podcasting is a 100 million dollar industry. Even if those numbers are slightly off, there’s a huge disparity between the two. That begs the question, is podcasting really the next big thing or a cool niche idea? Most people don’t disagree that on-demand audio interest is rapidly growing and being a content provider is important but whether or not it can be monetized and developed into a thriving business remains questionable.

In watching many of these sessions, I learned that it can be very uplifting for people to hear thirty minutes of positives about the industry they’re in. There’s something invigorating about being a podcaster and having control over your own storytelling, self-expression, authenticity, and not being a slave to advertisers. It’s sort of like being a writer and being able to blog without a newspaper editor reining you in. Or being an independent musician and playing the songs you feel like playing rather than the hits that label representatives require you to so they can sell your next album or single.

rcBut here’s your reality check. The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and the economic returns in the podcasting world are low compared to radio. If the financial numbers echoed throughout multiple sessions are accurate, that would make the radio industry 20x more profitable than the podcasting business. That’s enormous.

As I thought about that disparity I wondered how the space could become more profitable without muddying up the content experience. Making matters worse is that ad agencies are still unsure about investing bigger dollars on the platform. They’ve increased spending in recent years and are expected to do so in the future but the level of spending versus other traditional media is lower.

So when does it bottom out? Is podcasting a $200 million dollar business? $300 million? $500 million? Can it surpass where radio is? Or is its present performance the best it has to offer?

podcastingMy Final Thoughts – The radio industry has a big decision to make. Does it go all in on podcasting or take a cautious approach? With dashboards and desktops continuing to represent where users spend the majority of their time consuming audio, and the ad community slowly increasing spending rather than making sizable investments, it’s hard to picture radio groups putting podcasting on equal footing with their over the air products.

In the past, radio has been slow to adapt but this is a space that is difficult to judge. It’s not as simple as looking at whether or not audiences are interested in the content or whether people will listen more on phones, tablets and digital dashboards. I do believe the platform is growing, and I love that the user experience is clutter free and able to be enjoyed whenever the user wants to listen. The number one question though is how can it be monetized better?

I’ve yet to see anyone step forward with a secret recipe to excite advertisers. Shows in this space are generally shorter and delivered less frequently, and advertising opportunities inside of the programming are fewer. It may be appealing to the user, but it’s a lot harder to justify spending larger dollars on it for sponsors and operators.

IMG_1438So how do you fix it? Will the public pay for it? Audible is banking on that with the launch of their new service ‘Channels’ which offers 40 original high-quality shows. Amazon believes that if you provide a great content experience and target it to people who find value for that particular form of programming, they’ll invest in it.

Other suggestions for monetization include developing branded content, increasing live reads, developing sponsored contests, creating live event revenue opportunities, and providing merchandise. Those all sound great and should help but they’re all things that are offered in radio.

The fact of the matter is that despite being in existence for quite some time, podcasting brands are still relatively unfamiliar to a large number of people. To influence a change in spending or listening takes time, promotion, and most importantly – a lot of money!

Radio has decisions to make about its own level of confidence in the podcasting business. Groups such as Hubbard, ESPN Radio and E.W. Scripps have placed their support behind it, and others offer on-demand audio on many of their brands and appear intrigued by the idea of becoming larger players in the future.

FullSizeRender (24)As radio contemplates its viability in the digital audio business, the podcasting community needs to understand the importance of walking before running. Replacing the radio business isn’t going to happen tomorrow or the next day and expecting advertisers to make drastic changes in the way they do business doesn’t happen without effort, patience, and sustained performance. The space is attractive to listeners and creators, and if good judgment is used in the future, and more quality programming is provided, who knows what the industry’s ceiling is.

The one glimmer of hope I’ll leave you with is this. It’s easy to suggest that podcasting won’t surpass radio. A case can easily be made today to demonstrate why its economic potential is limited. However, in 2000 you’d have laughed if I told you that the UFC in 10-15 years would pass professional boxing in terms of popularity and revenue growth.

If you missed it, the UFC was purchased on Monday by WME/IMG for 4 billion dollars, after initially being purchased in 2000 for only 2 million. I’m not suggesting that podcasting will be to radio what the UFC became to boxing, but no one truly knows what the long-term economic potential is. As long as quality audio programming continues being created, and audiences continue clamoring for it, that’ll help determine if podcasting is the next big treasure or fool’s gold.

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media Announces 3 Additions, Social Media Changes

“Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.”

Jason Barrett

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It’s taken years of hard work, adjustments, and a whole lot of trial and error to turn this brand into a trusted source for industry professionals. It’s been exciting and rewarding to tell stories, highlight the industry, and use my decades worth of knowledge and relationships to help the brands I work with make progress. But while I may prioritize the work I do for others, I’ve also got to balance it with making sure BSM and BNM run smoothly.

Each day, Barrett Media produces nearly fifty social posts, one to two newsletters, and twenty to thirty sports and news media stories and columns. I didn’t even mention podcasts, which is another space we recently entered. Making sure we’re delivering quality not quantity is vital, and so too is promoting it consistently and creatively.

Today, we have thirty people on our payroll. I never expected that to be the case, but as needs have increased and deeper bonds have been formed between the brand, our audience, and our clients, it’s allowed us to find new ways to invest in delivering insight, information, and opinion to our readers. Writing, editing, and creating content for a brand like ours isn’t for everyone. I just spent the past three months interviewing nearly forty people, and there’s a lot of quality talent out there. But talent for radio and journalism doesn’t always mean the fit is right for BSM and BNM. Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.

First, please join me in welcoming Garrett Searight to BSM and BNM. Garrett has been hired as our FT Brand Editor, which means he will oversee BSM and BNM’s website’s content M-F during normal business hours. He will work closely with yours truly, our nighttime editors Arky Shea and Eduardo Razo, and our entire writing teams to create content opportunities for both of our brands. Garrett joins us after a decade long stint in Lima, OH where he most recently worked as program director and afternoon host at 93.1 The Fan. He also programmed classic country station 98.5 The Legend. His first day with us is August 1st, but he’ll be training this month to make sure he’s ready to hit the ground running.

Next, I am excited to welcome Alex Reynolds as our Social Media Coordinator. Alex’s creativity and curiosity stood out during our interview process, and we’re excited to have him helping with social content creation and scheduling for BSM and BNM. He’s a graduate of Elon University, a big fan of lacrosse, and he’ll be working with Dylan Barrett to improve our graphic creation, schedule our content, and further develop the social voice for both of our brands.

Speaking of our two brands, though we produce content on the website for both sports and news, how they get promoted on social is changing. When I started this company, the website was known as SportsRadioPD.com. That worked perfectly with my Twitter and Instagram handles, which were also @sportsradiopd. But since we switched our URL to BarrettSportsMedia.com and started ramping up content for both sports and news it’s become clear that we needed dedicated brand pages. It’s harder to expect people to share an individual’s content, and the mix of sports and news often feels off-brand to the two different audiences we serve. It feels even stranger if I’m buying social media ads to market content, a conference, and other things, so it’s time to change things up.

Starting today, you can now follow Barrett Sports Media on Twitter @BSMStaff. You can also follow Barrett News Media on Twitter @BNMStaff. Each brand also has its own Facebook page. Moving forward, we will promote sports media content on our sports accounts, and news media content on our news accounts. We started with that approach for BNM when the brand launched in September 2020, but expecting people to read another site and follow other social accounts was a tall order for a brand that was finding its footing. We made a choice to promote both sports and news under the same social accounts for the past year in order to further grow awareness for the content, and as we stand today, I think many would agree that BNM has made great strides. We’ve built a kick ass team to cover the news media industry, and I’m hoping many of you will take a moment to give BNM’s pages a follow to stay informed.

One thing you will notice is that the @BSMStaff account has replaced the @sportsradiopd account on Twitter. Let’s face it, most people who have followed me on Twitter have done so for BSM or BNM’s content, not for my NY Knicks and pro wrestling rants. I am keeping my @sportsradiopd handle but that is being developed as a brand new personal account. That said, if you enjoy sending DM’s my way, give the new @sportsradiopd account a follow so we can stay in touch. The only account we will use to promote content from both brands under is the Barrett Media account on LinkedIn. Instagram is not a focus right now nor is TikTok or Snapchat. I realize audiences exist everywhere but I’d rather be great at a few things than average at a lot of them.

Now that we’ve tackled the social media changes, let me share another exciting piece of news. I’m thrilled to welcome Jessie Karangu to our brand as a BSM weekly columnist. Jessie has great energy, curiosity, and a genuine love and passion for the media industry. He’s worked for Sinclair television, written for Awful Announcing, and has also hosted podcasts and video shows on YouTube. His knowledge and interest in television is especially strong, and I’m looking forward to featuring his opinions, and perspectives on our website. His debut piece for the site will be released this Wednesday.

With all of this happening, Demetri Ravanos is shifting his focus for the brand to a space he’s passionate about, audio. His new title is BSM’s Director of Audio Content. This means he will be charged with overseeing the editing, execution, and promotion of our various podcasts. He will also work closely with me in developing future Barrett Media shows. We have 3 in weekly rotation now, and will be adding Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves next week, and The Jason Barrett Podcast the week after that. The goal is to increase our audio library in the future provided the right ideas, talent, and interest are there.

Another goal of mine moving forward is to grow our advertising partnerships. Between our website, social media channels, podcasts, and newsletters, we have many ways to help brands connect to an affluent, influential, and loyal industry audience. We’ve enjoyed working with and helping brands over the years such as Point to Point Marketing, Jim Cutler NY, Steve Stone Voiceovers, Core Image Studio, Skyview Networks, Compass Media Networks, ESPN Radio and Harker Bos Group. That doesn’t include all of the great sponsors we’ve teamed up with for our annual BSM Summit (2023’s show will be announced by the end of the summer). I’m excited to add to the list by welcoming Backbone as a new website and newsletter partner. We’re also looking forward to teaming up in the near future with Quu and the Sports Gambling Podcast Network, and hope to work with a few others we’ve had recent dialogue with.

When it comes to marketing, I try to remind folks of our reach, the value we add daily across the industry, and the various ways we can help. I know it’s human nature to stick with what we know but if you work with a brand, I invite you to check into BSM/BNM further. Stephanie Eads is awesome to work with, cares about our partners, and our traffic, social impressions, and most importantly, the quality of our audience is proven. To learn more about what we can do, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Yes we continue to grow, and I’m happy about that, but just because we’re adding head count doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed to be better. It takes every person on a team holding up their end of the bargain, creating killer content, setting expectations, and paying attention to the follow through. We take pride in our work, value the support of our partners, and are extremely thankful for the continued readership of our material. That consistent support is what allows me to add to our team to better serve fans, partners, and industry professionals.

It may seem small, and unimportant but those retweets, comments, and mentions on the air about our content makes a difference. To all who take the time to keep our industry conversations alive, thank you. This is an awesome business with a lot of great brands, people, content, and growth opportunities, and the fact that we get to learn from you, share your stories, and help those reading learn in the process makes waking up to do it an honor.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

Which brings me to today’s announcement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrett Blogs

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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