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10 Tips For Getting Hired In Radio

Jason Barrett

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Every Program Director has a different approach when it comes to hiring people so take that into account as you read through this column. I can only speak to my own philosophy and experiences but for what they’re worth, I’m happy to share how I do things. As you pursue future opportunities in the industry, don’t assume that my way is going to work for you in other markets because chances are it won’t. None the less here’s a few things I consider important in the hiring process.

1. Build Relationships First: If you’re looking to be considered for a position at any radio station, don’t wait until you see a job posting for an open position. This is a business that is very much built on who you know and what you’ve done. You can go into Walmart and apply for a job and they’ll call you if they have an opening, Radio works differently. Chances are, I’ve got a number of people in mind for an opportunity before I even post the position for my radio station. Why? Because any solid PD is thinking about the change in his or her building before anyone else is. During the posting process I’ll receive a few applications which stand out and catch my eye but usually I’ve already got an idea for a few different roads to pursue before I turn to the unknown. All the more reason why getting to know the PD prior to a job posting can be important.

2. Follow Instructions: If a job is posted and gives specific instructions of how to proceed and you don’t have a relationship already with the PD, follow them precisely. For example, if it says “no calls please” don’t be the one person who thinks they’re going to stand out because they did what the posting said not to do. While you may think that type of aggressiveness is going to stand out, it will but in a very negative way. If I’ve taken the time to tell you how to approach me and the company for a possible opportunity, following instructions is important. If your first move is to show me that you can’t follow instructions then how can I trust you if I were to hire you? In the past I’ve had people follow me into elevators, approach me in the urinals at ballgames, show up at radio station events when I was with my family and even track me down at a train stop after I posted that I was heading home on Twitter and in every situation, the candidate was not hired. I recognize you’re hungry for an opportunity but so are others who follow instructions and trust in their body of work being good enough to generate attention and a response.

3. Are You Qualified For The Opening: If you’re applying for an on-air position and have never done a radio show, why exactly are you applying? I realize it’s a cool job and we all think we can do it but just because you make your friends laugh or you know every sports stat known to mankind doesn’t mean you’re qualified to entertain an audience for 45 minutes an hour. I may think I can do a better job than the president but that doesn’t make me qualified to run the country and occupy the white house.

4. Are You a Proven Difference Maker: If you’re an on-air talent and haven’t had ratings success, PD’s will find out. If you’re in a weekend or night-time position and looking to take the next step, PD’s will ask you why those in your own building don’t think you’re good enough to crack their daytime lineup yet you expect someone else to see you differently who hasn’t even worked with you. I’m not saying that to be a hard ass or to crush your dreams, I’m sharing it because when you’re hired as a weekday talk show host in a prime daypart, there’s an expectation that comes with it. The PD is saying to his/her bosses that you’re good enough to generate ratings, experienced enough to deliver results for advertisers and the type of individual who will be a great teammate, a strong representative for the brand in the community and someone who will foster relationships with teams and local players which will be beneficial to the product. I’m not saying you can’t go from weekends/evenings in a market to prime time in another because it has happened but I’m telling you that it’s not easy and doing it in a top 5 market or on a national network is going to be extremely tough.

5. Show Your Unedited Work: When you submit a demo, don’t send something that makes you look good for 2-3 minutes but can’t be duplicated when you get in front of a microphone. Numerous times I’ve received a good MP3 or CD and I’ll follow up with a candidate and when I have them come to the studio to hear how they sound, I find out that they had 2 good minutes courtesy of a good Adobe Audition editing job. The reality is this, unedited tape doesn’t lie. Chances are you’ll send me an hour of tape and I won’t listen to all of it. That said, something interesting or funny right away will get my attention and keep me intrigued. It’s no different than what I tell my on-air hosts and what other PD’s tell theirs. If you don’t grab a listener’s attention quickly, they’ll tune you out. Come to the table with something that showcases your style, originality and unfiltered opinion and you have a shot at keeping my ear. If you can do that, I’m likely to at least touch base to have a discussion. Also understand that if a PD doesn’t like your work right now, that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. If they tell you to work on some things, apply the feedback and make sure the next time you submit something that it reflects progress. That attention to detail tells a PD you’ll accept coaching and that’s something PD’s seek out of the people they hire.

6. Network, Network, Network: Between the radio station’s website where you can obtain the email to the PD and social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where many of these same PD’s have accounts, are you connected to them on any platform? Furthermore, have you gotten to know others who work inside the radio station? The more people you know and the more relationships you build, the more likely you are to attract people’s attention. I remember being at 590 The Fan in St. Louis and a guy came in the door wanting to pick the brains of some of our personalities just to find out how they approach their jobs. His research stood out and he was a young guy looking to break into the business. About 2 years later I was launching 101 ESPN in St. Louis and the same guy applied for a Board Operator job just to get his foot in the door and I wound up hiring him. It was that initial visit to my previous building and a few notes in between that caught my attention and impressed me. His name was Aaron Goldsmith and he was the first board operator to put 101 ESPN on the air and now he’s the play-by-play announcer for the Seattle Mariners. He understood the value of networking and so should you.

7. Set Realistic Goals: PD’s talk to one another much like NFL Head Coaches talk to each other. We may not discuss strategies or company secrets but we do provide feedback when asked for it. If you’re an individual sending resumes and airchecks to 20 PD’s in 20 different markets, chances are everyone knows you as the “I’ll work anywhere” candidate. If you’re applying for the board operator, producer and on-air host position then you’re the “jack of all trades, master of none” candidate. I mention these two specifically because any dynamic and entertaining on-air personality who can move the needle for a radio station would never apply for a Board Operator or Producer position. Be smart when you apply and remember, PD’s have long memories. We know when you’ve applied 6 months earlier, 2 years earlier and in some cases even 5-10 years earlier. Know what it is you want to pursue, give good evidence to support why you believe you’re qualified and then follow up when appropriate. If you’ve got the talent to attract a PD’s attention, trust me they’ll be in touch. If they’re not then either you’re not a fit for that specific PD or market or your talent for the position may not be as strong as you may think it is. I will also tell you that if two people are equally qualified for a position and one is local and one isn’t, almost 99% of the time the call is going to go to the person who is already in the market and knows the local scene. If you want to work in a specific market and you’re not there, you may want to think abut relocating first and then continuing to chase opportunities at the radio station.

8. Understand The Job Description: Too many times candidates interview for a specific job and then proceed to explain why the radio station should adapt to fit them as opposed to the individual explaining how they can help fit the position. You may eventually land a bigger opportunity in the company if you’re good but it’s not going to come without doing the current job in front of you first. If a baseball team needs a lead-off hitter who can take pitches, draw walks, get on base and steal bases, do you think they’re going to put someone in that spot who hits for low average and swings at every pitch they see? It’s no different here. If I need a producer who can book guests, produce promos and rejoins, screen calls and make quality cuts, that’s what I expect to be done. If your true ambition is to be on the air that’s fine but you’re not going to get that opportunity at the expense of a prime time talk show. Do the job you were hired to do, request to earn more opportunities and be truthful about your goals and if you’ve built a good relationship with your PD, they’ll give you a chance to go into a production room and put some material on tape, critique it and if it’s good enough, throw you a weekend or overnight shift to see how you do. It’s all about going through the process and having the talent to do the job but you’ve got to touch first base before you proceed to second.

9. The Actual Interview: When you get called to come in for an interview, be on time. You should also show up looking professional. You don’t need to be in a 3-piece suit but you may want to save the running pants and short sleeve t-shirt for another day. Andre Agassi once said “image is everything” and whether it’s fair or not, PD’s want to know that they’re bringing in people who understand that they’re working in a place of business and can present themselves well. In addition to being punctual and presenting yourself well, let the PD guide the conversation. You’re walking in and trying to sell yourself and why you can help the brand but for the PD they can only find out about you by asking questions and seeing how you respond. If you’re confident in yourself they’ll see it and those who can adapt and stay loose, conversational and engaged in discussion will stand out. If you’re shy, quiet, nervous or breaking out in a sweat, chances are the PD’s made mental notes and they’re not going to be favorable.

10. Follow Up: If you interview for an opportunity and don’t get the nod, your career isn’t over. The right thing to do, is follow up and thank the PD for their consideration and let them know you’d like to be kept in consideration for future opportunities. In many situations there are a lot of qualified candidates for an opening and only 1 person gets hired. Those who act professionally when they don’t get the call stand a better chance of being thought of favorably in the future, especially if they remain employed in the business and continue working at their craft. I have a number of people in this business who I keep on a short-list and if situations pop up and I need help, I’m very likely to call on them. What doesn’t work is when someone follows up and proceeds to blast the candidate I hired or fires personal insults my way because they weren’t hired (it’s happened before). Before I got my opportunity with ESPN in 2004, I had reached out a year earlier to Bruce Gilbert and what I was pitching wasn’t needed by the network at that time. I thanked him for considering me, asked him to hold on to my materials and reminded him that if a need came up in the future, I was ready, willing and able to get to work. As luck would have it, one year later he had an opening and because I connected well during the previous process, I was given a chance to interview and ultimately landed the job. While the call may not always come the first time, it certainly won’t come a second time if you don’t conduct yourself the right way.

As I finalize this column, I’d like to share a personal story that applies to this subject. When I entered this business, I hoped to one day be good enough to work at WFAN in NY. For years I reached out to Mark Chernoff seeking his feedback and because I didn’t bombard him regularly, he’d provide me with some of it. I gained a solid understanding of what I’d need to do in the future to earn consideration for a job there, and I’d keep working on the things he told me needed improvement.

After 8 years, I finally received an offer to work for WFAN as a FT Producer and as crazy as it sounds, I rejected it. ESPN presented a great opportunity at the same time, and I couldn’t say no. If I had given up after my first or second attempt, I’d never have been in that position. Because I had a little bit of talent, was accepting of feedback, and didn’t overwhelm Mark with my approach, it allowed me to stay on the radar of one of the industry’s best PD’s.

Many times in this industry, being hired for a position comes down to relationships, fit, financials and subjective opinions. If you don’t get the call today, don’t be discouraged. It’s amazing how a perceived setback on your end can actually be a blessing in disguise and an opening into something even more amazing. Sometimes a great NFL or MLB player has to wait a few turns to get a call to the Hall of Fame and the same type of things happen in radio. If you have talent and want it bad enough, people will eventually find you. You’ll just never know who, when or why they’re watching so always present yourself well, don’t be overbearing and let your body of work do the talking.

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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