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It’s Barrett Sports Media’s One Year Anniversary

Jason Barrett

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The past twelve months have provided a series of twists and turns that have been a combination of exciting, challenging, confusing, and rewarding. It’s because of those experiences that today is extra special. Last year at this time I hadn’t thought about where Barrett Sports Media would be one year later. I was simply trying to build a brand that I could be proud of and hope that others in the industry would take notice. Much to my surprise and delight, they have, and because of your support, I’m able to celebrate the first anniversary of what I hope will be many more, of running BSM.

When I look back at September 2015 I do so with a smile because it was then that I decided to announce my intentions to travel down this path, despite being told by many that it would be difficult to sustain. I was encouraged to pursue programming jobs and avoid this journey at all costs, but anyone who knows me is fully aware that I perform best with my back against the wall, and I welcome taking risks, and am not afraid to fail.

I moved to New York after a four year stint in San Francisco to be closer to my son Dylan. I had no job lined up but thanks to some advanced planning I wasn’t pressured to find work immediately. I started thinking about my professional future and starting my own company was an idea I was intrigued by but I wasn’t sure I could do it. I had never run my own business or considered entering the consulting space because I felt that not enough companies valued outside support to help their stations get better. I recognized that the world of sports media was rapidly changing though due to the rise of podcasting, websites, and social media. Although there was more interest in talent and content, I also knew that I couldn’t rely on business finding me. Instead I’d have to create demand by demonstrating my value.

Before making the commitment to launch BSM, I talked to a few people about a few job opportunities. I felt it was important to weigh all of the options before deciding. In going through meetings and processing the information, I kept feeling unfulfilled. The money would be better, but the idea of doing the same thing I had just done for four stations in three markets over the past decade didn’t excite me. I learned long ago to never make a career decision based on economics, so I wasn’t about to start now.

I started thinking about the various successes and experiences I was fortunate to be a part of, and the relationships I had built across the country and felt my knowledge, network, and abilities could make a bigger difference. My true passions are teaching radio, scouting talent, and creating strategies to help people win, and I felt that I’d be limiting myself by working in one market for one organization.

So in August of 2015 I began sending a few emails to a number of industry friends to let them know what I was planning to do, and on the day after Labor Day, September 8, 2015, I officially became an entrepreneur and launched Barrett Sports Media.

The past year has provided a number of valuable life lessons and it’s opened my eyes and ears to many different parts of our industry. I’ve learned how numerous companies operate, why many brands win or lose, who understands the importance of networking (and who doesn’t), and which areas of our format have significant challenges. I’ve seen how powerful the web and social media can be in growing your brand and content, and why the ratings system is one that poorly represents our industry and will never truly capture the reach of many of our greatest sports radio brands.

Indulge me if you will for a little while longer as I go through a few specific areas that have stood out since I launched this company. I appreciate every business partnership and relationship that I’ve developed over the past year, as well as every social media follower, website reader, new industry connection, and the various radio stations, newspapers and websites who have sought me out for insight on industry related subjects. It’s been a very rewarding year and I wouldn’t be in position for a solid second year without your support.

The Growth of the Website: When I started SportsRadioPD.com I was still programming 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. I did it as a labor of love and focused mostly on writing a few blogs, not necessarily reporting a ton of news. The updates were sporadic and I wasn’t heavily promoting it. None the less, I started to see that there was interest in reading the content since it was very industry specific.

Upon launching BSM, this became a huge focus. I looked at the end of 2015 as a time where it was more important to build my brand rather than worry about adding clients. I felt that if I produced great content on a regular basis, and expanded my network, that it would lead to opportunities when brands had needs.

During that time I reconnected with an old friend Zach McCrite to bring his “Podcast About Sports Radio” to the website. I also started focusing on my writing and reporting. If there’s one thing I learned about myself this past year it’s that I enjoy writing. Typing a column isn’t easy to do. There were many nights where I didn’t go to sleep until 5AM. But there’s a certain creative freedom that comes from producing your own material, and as long as people continue to have interest in reading it, I’ll keep doing it.

Little by little the interest grew in the written content. I wrote stories on specific subjects with perspectives added by industry friends. I traveled to radio stations to better understand their approach and share their story. I traveled to conferences and shared my findings including having the privilege of attending Mike and Mike’s Hall of Fame induction in Las Vegas where I’m pretty sure Kim Komando is still speaking. I connected with radio executives in large and small markets to help them better share their brand’s successes, and I gave radio folks a platform to tell their own stories. I even began to tap into my various relationships to get the inside scoop on a number of stories, and in doing so, my social media following tripled on Twitter, and doubled on LinkedIn.

I quickly recognized the value of social media because it’s where we all reside throughout each day. By producing quality content and promoting it on multiple platforms, BSM generated 1.5 million clicks over the past year, something I never could have possibly imagined.

There were many pieces I was proud to publish this past year but the one that provided the biggest impact were the inaugural Barrett Sports Media Awards. I thought they’d do well, but the interest far surpassed my expectations. I was stunned yet flattered by the publicity that came from it. Various shows across the nation talked about them on the air. All Access gave consistent promotion to it on their website. It even got attention on sports television. It worked because of the contributions of many top executives in the format and I look forward to a second installment coming your way in late January or early February. To those that discussed or promoted the awards I simply say thank you.

Two other projects which I was happy to invest time in were the columns on Tackling The Issue of Diversity in Sports Radio and 15 Talents You May Not Know But Should. These two pieces taught me that there are a lot of great people performing in this business but sometimes they fly way below the radar. By highlighting their work, a few performers with some exceptional talent were able to be recognized for the great work they provide on a daily basis.

I also discovered how important it is to explore subjects that may make some uncomfortable yet need to be brought into focus. I don’t believe any hiring decision should be made based on the color of one’s skin but I also realize that as an industry we need to do a much better job of looking at candidates from all backgrounds. We tend to gravitate towards what we know or are comfortable with yet the audiences we broadcast for are very diverse.

From the Awards to the Minority Voices to the 15 Talents Undiscovered and many other columns that I wrote, I learned that written work touches a nerve. Not everyone was pleased with my columns or reports, and they took the time to express themselves either through email or social media. Whether I agreed or disagreed I always tried to respond. I was told by an industry friend “there’s power in the pen” and he certainly wasn’t kidding.

A few friends labeled me the Adam Schefter of the sports radio space, and while it was funny and probably rang true in a few instances since few outlets were breaking industry news, I realized that reporting is tough. There’s a fine line between breaking a story for the benefit of your readers and costing yourself a relationship with an individual and/or company. If I was building a career as a writer or reporter, I could break news on this industry on a daily basis. But I enjoy working with brands and their staffs and if jumping out in front on a story is going to burn a bridge or cost me a valuable relationship then I’m willing to let someone else enjoy the glory of being first. Some who read the website may prefer a different approach but I do have a responsibility to balance business and news.

Networking and Promoting: If there’s an area where the radio industry needs major work it’s in these two words. Networking is something that many struggle with yet it’s critical in everything you do. I’ve learned that many individuals reach out to a programmer only when a job opening is posted. They don’t invest the time in getting to know the executive prior to it. The same holds true for many programmers. Let’s be honest, most jobs in this business aren’t filled through sending in an application. It’s word of mouth, and internal and external relationships, and although it might be a pain in the ass, you control your own fate in deciding whether or not to get to know people. The more people you know, the more options you’ll have. The only thing standing in the way is your own effort.

As it applies to promoting, this is more on brands and their leaders than it is on talent or producers. If you want people to change their perceptions of your market, ratings, competitive picture, or your brand and talent, you have to tell them about it. When you add an employee, that’s worth promoting. When you create a new promotion, add a weekly guest or make a programming change, that’s worth promoting. When you have a great month in the ratings, that’s worth promoting. Too many in our industry treat their information like it’s damaging material hidden inside of Hillary Clinton’s emails when the reality is that if you get out in front of the story and control the narrative, more people are likely to pay attention and reward you for it. You have thousands of fans following your brands on social media because they care about your product. All you have to do is keep them informed.

Think about the irony for a minute. We use the airwaves everyday to produce content and run advertiser messages yet don’t use them or our social media platforms and industry relationships to help grow our profile. You can have the best ratings in the nation but if nobody knows besides the 50-100 people inside your building then it’s your own fault if you don’t receive the credit you deserve. It may not be comfortable but to change perceptions you have to give people new information and it has to be sent to the proper locations. I offer to help every station in this format. All Access, Radio Ink, Inside Radio and many others offer the same. We’ll help you get the word out. You have only one small job to do – share your story.

Becoming a Consultant: When people refer to me as a sports radio consultant it still feels weird. In a sense it is what I am but I believe the role can be further developed. In many ways I see myself as a sports media strategist. Too often when you talk to people in our industry about consultants, they view them as people with expertise to share but who have been away from a building for two to three decades. In my case, that’s not accurate. I spent the past decade programming and just left a building last year.

Secondly, most of the time the instant perception is that the consultant gets paid to provide advice, strategy and information on how to develop your ratings. That’s part of the job, but digital and social media has become a huge priority for brands, generating revenue is a bigger responsibility than ever before, and I don’t believe you can measure an individual’s impact on ratings alone.

I want to help the brand’s I work with enjoy stronger ratings, but I also want to arm the programmer and market manager with every bit of information that I can to help them enjoy success in all departments. Whether it’s helping them create a strong digital and social media strategy, assisting with recruitment, meeting with a sales team, sharing success stories and ideas from other markets, writing a story to showcase the brand’s growth, offering insight on employee negotiations and how to retain or land a deal with a play by play franchise or network, or listening to the competitor and offering observations, all of those things are valuable. I also make myself available for radio hits on the subject of sports media.

When I work with a brand on an annual basis, I become deeply invested in their success. I care about my clients, the challenges they’re going through and I listen to and analyze their progress to help them make a bigger difference. Too many radio operators expect the program director to solve every issue, but even the best PD’s need a trusted advisor and shrink. Many groups are content to keep doing things a certain way without adjusting, but as the audience changes their habits, so should a brand. I’m not saying I’m the answer for everyone, but whether it’s me or someone else, companies should always be looking to find new ways to lift their performance.

Adding an outside perspective does make a difference. I speak from experience, not as a salesman. I grew as a programmer the past six years because I had access to a consultant. We didn’t agree on everything but I valued the additional insight, information, and differing of opinion because it helped me grow and put the brand in position to have better success. If there’s one thing that still surprises me it’s how intimidated some programmers get when the idea of working with a consultant comes up. The best in any profession look to surround themselves with as many smart and talented people as possible. If you’re confident in what you do and delivering good results, you don’t need to look over your shoulder. If you’re successful and the company you work for is foolish enough to let you go, someone else will be ready to welcome you into their organization with open arms. Good talent is always wanted.

Closing: The interest in sports media is extremely high and it’s not slowing down. That’s great news for all of us who love this type of work. I get asked often “are you going to go program radio station ____ (fill in the blank)” whenever opportunities arise, and I can’t say it more definitively than this – I went into this space because I saw a void in it and I thought I could be good at it. I enjoy it, have a passion for it, and love where I’m at. I have no desire to enter one building and program in one market. I’m also committed to getting my son through high school in New York and am not interested in relocating. Plus why would I want to give up working from a home office in pajama pants? Seriously?

As I move into year #2 I have a lot more I want to accomplish. I’m thrilled to be working with some great companies and stations and I hope to increase my reach with other organizations who are seeking to gain a competitive edge. I’ve added a new layer to my business (customized in-market training) for brands who can’t afford regular support but want to help their staffs, and between listening, writing, reporting, promoting, and networking, I’m fortunate to be busy. I’m also looking forward to further expanding my relationships with the sports agents I’ve gotten to know during the past year, and if it works out, I may even do another international project. I’ve begun getting more involved in public speaking too and am looking forward later this month to being part of the NAB in Nashville. Over the next twelve months I anticipate adding other engagements.

If there’s one goal I have for the immediate future it’s to grow the business strong enough to afford adding someone to update news content on the website. That’s become a big area of interest for readers and I recognize the importance of keeping it updated regularly. However, my first priority is to serve my clients, and then try to cram in listening to other brands and talent and write a column so managing it all isn’t easy. I’m not in position yet to make an addition but I hope to do so before next Labor Day,

To bring this full circle, it’s been a fantastic first year. I appreciate everyone who’s played a part in it. But this isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. Onward and upward we go.

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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