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ESPN Covering The WWE Is Smart Business

Jason Barrett

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I read ESPN public editor Jim Brady’s column this morning on the relationship between ESPN and the WWE and why he feels the marriage is a bad one for the worldwide leader in sports. As an individual who loves both sports and sports entertainment and has generated ratings and revenue with both, I’m going to respectfully disagree with Brady’s assertion that it’s a poor fit.

In the article, Brady cautions ESPN to be careful when crossing the line between fiction and nonfiction. He states that WWE programming is pure entertainment, whereas the world of sports provides real competition. Those points are true. Most wrestling fans though don’t watch Raw, Smackdown, or a WWE Pay Per View under any false pretenses. They know the results are pre-determined and they don’t expect to be reported on the same way that professional sports are.

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However, critics who don’t like or follow professional wrestling are constantly trying to compare the two. There are subtle jabs thrown at those who enjoy it, and the most common response is “but it’s not real, it’s scripted”. Well, so is a movie but people don’t mind paying to watch them. So are most television sitcoms, dramas, and late night shows but those seem to be acceptable to watch. So why is this any different?

I’ve gone through this debate for two decades and it gets exhausting. As someone who enjoys wrestling, I have no problem if someone doesn’t like it. If it’s not your cup of tea, don’t watch it or read about it. But if I do enjoy it, why are you trying to deny me the ability to enjoy it on a channel or website that I regularly read or watch? You have your tastes, I have mine. A network like ESPN should be able to satisfy us both.

Speaking of ESPN, I’ve grown up watching it, as have most sports fans. They cover the world of sports better than anyone, and do an excellent job of separating fact from fiction. Their bread and butter is to provide information, analysis, results, and opinions on the world of sports, while protecting their image as a credible sports news organization. But let’s stop pretending for a second that the WWE has brought some form of programming to ESPN that drastically compromises what it does.

Last week, ESPN conducted multiple interviews with Robert DeNiro about his new movie “Hands of Stone”. Yes the film was about former pro boxer Roberto Duran, but the last time I checked, DeNiro wasn’t considered a source for boxing and the movie was scripted and performed by actors. I went and saw it and thought it was great, but that’s besides the point. If DeNiro can appear on multiple shows for 5-10 minutes at a time discussing his new film and his previous movies, then what is the harm in talking to a professional wrestler once a week?

It was ok for the same network to allow Will Ferrell to take over SportsCenter as Ron Burgundy. Musical acts have appeared numerous times performing live on ESPN shows to promote their new albums, and I’ve watched Jake Gyllenhaal break down the greatest boxing movies of all time while on SportsCenter to promote his film Southpaw. Nobody seemed to mind John Cena, Samuel Jackson, Jamie Foxx or Seth Meyers hosting the ESPYs. Were those not forms of entertainment that air on ESPN’s platforms? Did they damage the network’s ability to present itself as a credible news organization?

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Sometimes when organizations recognize popular trends and tap into them to try to evolve their business, they’re immediately rejected by internal members who want to continue doing business the same way. I understand it. Change isn’t easy, especially when it includes leaving your comfort zone or exploring content that you lack a connection to. But if a strategic move can help a company add additional viewers and revenues, and it doesn’t deviate from the brand, then there shouldn’t be an issue.

But the WWE doesn’t fit with ESPN you say. It’s a brand of content that goes against ESPN’s journalistic integrity right? Well, let me remind you of what those four letters represent – ENTERTAINMENT and Sports Programming Network.

The very first word in ESPN’s own name is entertainment. It’s not SNN, the Sports News Network. The last time I checked, the WWE defines itself as a sports entertainment company. If the two words they use to describe their own business align with two of the words ESPN uses to define itself, then it shouldn’t be a question if there’s a fit.

The other issue I have with this discussion is that on one hand Brady wants to send a stern warning to ESPN executives about the danger of delivering wrestling content yet doesn’t see an issue with the network providing content on politics, black culture, esports, gambling, the spelling bee, and hot dog eating contests. Let’s not forget that the ESPY’s opened this year with four NBA stars standing on a stage talking about injustice, racial profiling, and troubles in America with gun violence. What exactly does that have to do with sports journalism? It was a moving moment, but one could easily argue that it’s not what fans turn to ESPN for.

If you visit ESPN’s website right now, you’ll find articles promoting Donald Trump stories right on the main page under the fivethirtyeight election section. Is this sports news? Does the selection of content fit the overall brand promise? Not at all. But it’s there.

espnwebHaving been in the sports media industry for the past two decades, I was constantly told “steer away from race, religion, and politics – they divide the audience”. I believe that statement to be true but I also think there are times where those subjects need to be explored. No better example exists than the recent controversy involving Colin Kaepernick. Which is why I don’t have an issue when ESPN explores some uncomfortable subjects.

But let’s be honest, ESPN has built two separate businesses around two of those words – race and politics. And for the record, I enjoy both. I think The Undefeated provides tremendous content, and when Nate Silver analyzes political topics they’re usually a fascinating read. I’m able to separate in my mind what ESPN’s brand stands for, and what these sub-sections of their business are. But a counter argument could be made towards why they exist under the ESPN umbrella in the first place.

Whether you like the world of professional wrestling or not, it’s hard to argue with its track record of success. Their television programming delivers millions of viewers each week, and their web and social media traffic and engagement are as high as any form of entertainment. With ESPN looking for ways to connect stronger with younger viewers and readers, and searching for alternative ways to generate interest and revenue during a time where cord cutting has become a common concern, this is smart business. If it isn’t compromising the core of ESPN’s business, which it isn’t, then I have no problem with it.

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I’ve seen first hand how strong of a difference these fans can make. Earlier in my career I hosted a weekly wrestling talk show in upstate NY on local radio. I was under no grand illusions that my program was going to become a 5-day per week program, and I saw the show for what it was, two hours of entertainment.

Some didn’t like the program being on the air because it conflicted with the identity of the radio station. I felt it deserved a place at the table. In the end, the results proved it belonged. Over the span of two years while hosting the show on a sports station and rock station, ratings spiked 144%. I was stunned when I saw the data, but it confirmed that we had a niche product with a very passionate and dedicated audience. That passion led to additional revenues.

As a result of hosting that show, I traveled one year to Toronto for WrestleMania 18 and it was then that I discovered that TSN (the ESPN of Canada) promoted the WWE on its SportsCentre program. I watched as TSN aired highlights of The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania on their Sunday night highlight show and I was surprised. I then learned that they also carried Monday Night Raw for over a decade on Monday night’s. That’s something that you’d never expect a leading sports channel to do. If TSN’s staff and its viewers were able to make the distinction between sports and sports entertainment, then I have no doubt that American sports fans can too.

If you look at the current sports media landscape as it applies to this conversation, you’ll find that CBS Radio recently started airing former pro wrestler Taz’s show following the WWE’s top pay per views on Sunday night’s on many of their top local sports radio stations across the country. They wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t a smart business decision.

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And why wouldn’t they put the show on after a PPV on a Sunday night? The audience is usually small during that time, and by tapping into this audience, CBS’ stations are likely to experience a spike in their ratings and revenue. Sports radio listeners are not going to stop listening to the weekday shows on WFAN, 670 The Score, WIP, 98.5 The Sports Hub or 97.1 The Ticket because of it.

I look at it like this. ESPN is a tree with many branches. The WWE occupies one of those branches just like many others. If someone doesn’t like the WWE section on ESPN.com or the interviews that Jonathan Coachman conducts on Tuesday night’s edition of SportsCenter, there’s a simple solution – don’t read or watch them. You DO have a choice. But remember, ESPN wouldn’t be exploring this space if it didn’t increase web traffic, and television ratings, which of course influence their ability to generate more revenue.

I understand the fine line that ESPN has to walk in trying to blend real news and results with entertainment. I agree with Brady on WWE news being kept separate from the main news section. If people want to know what’s happening in the WWE they can go to the WWE section for it. That shouldn’t be a focus on ESPN’s main page. The only exception is when coverage is warranted. For example, that’ll be the case this Saturday night when former WWE star CM Punk makes his debut in the UFC.wweespn2

He also points out that the SportsCenter treatment of WWE, where one fixed segment per week takes place with Coachman, a former WWE commentator, fits with the show’s strategy of encouraging their anchors to display their personal passions in order to better connect with fans. That makes sense and is important because viewers are attracted to personalities more than talking heads.

But that’s also where I become confused.

One minute Brady is pointing out that the partnership creates journalistic challenges for the network and is a poor fit that presents real risk. The next minute he’s acknowledging that there’s a path available that makes sense, which is to do exactly what ESPN is already doing by keeping the WWE content in its own section, and including their superstars on SportsCenter one time per week. If they venture outside of that box, as they did with having John Cena host the ESPY’s or by doing live hits from WrestleMania and last year’s Summerslam, then those too will have to make programming sense.

In my opinion this comes down to the same old discussion. Those who don’t like pro wrestling and see it as a joke, will always be offended when it earns exposure. Brady acknowledges during his article that he doesn’t watch it, which means he’s not going to share the viewpoint of someone who does. Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch for example is a big wrestling fan, and he’ll invest time on his podcast and articles talking about wrestling issues that peak his interest, but he doesn’t let his affinity for the WWE compromise his ability to be a journalist, and nobody is asking that of ESPN either.

ESPN has built an empire out of covering sports and venturing into the entertainment space. It’s what’s helped the network become a perennial powerhouse in sports television. If they’re able to figure out how to craft content and control the presentation with celebrities, musical acts, and spelling bee and hot dog eating contestants, on ESPN.com and SportsCenter, then I have no doubt they can do the same with the WWE. Except this partnership can bring a lot more eyeballs and Benjamin Franklin’s into the company.

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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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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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

Jason Barrett

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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.

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