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When Breaking News Happens

Jason Barrett

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The past few days I’ve had the benefit of enjoying some time off and during that time I couldn’t help but be drawn more to CNN, Fox News and MSNBC as a result of the situation in Ferguson, MO. Having spent 5 years of my career and life in the St. Louis area and still maintaining friends in the area today, I was curious to find out what was going on with the chaotic situation that has been unfolding for more than a week now.

fergusonWhat started as a curiosity on my part to learn more about the story, ended up becoming a reminder of how important it is to handle breaking news coverage the right way. Some of this may seem obvious but as simple as it may appear, not every individual or brand handles things right when it comes to dealing with major stories that require an ability to think and react quickly and wisely.

Case in point this past weekend’s news television programming. I think most would agree that the Ferguson, MO shooting and situation between the police, protesters and looters qualified as a major breaking news story. If you work in news television then it would qualify as an all hands on deck type of situation. What occurred though was perplexing.

KMOXOn the positive side, 1120AM KMOX in St. Louis was on top of the story every single minute. The station went wall to wall with on-air coverage and I saw numerous people involved with the radio station tweeting, posting photos and continuing dialogue with listeners. I could tell quickly that the brand was connected with its audience and invested in making sure they had the most up to the minute information on the story.

Dana Loesch who hosts her own syndicated radio show and works for “The Blaze” network, was also highly invested in the story and offering different viewpoints on the situation. She too was dialed in with her audience on Twitter and was supplying audio samples of things that she had gathered on the show to further help with gaining perspective.

KMOX and Dana Loesch are both St. Louis based so they had an opportunity to be closer to the situation and to their credit they took advantage of it and went full throttle on the story. In simpler terms, they played the hits and super served the needs of their audiences.

On the local television side in St. Louis, Fox-2 KTVU and News 4-KMOV did a stellar job covering the scene to provide eyewitness footage of what was taking place and they kept their focus on presenting the facts which is difficult in situations like this. So many outlets are battling for information and want to provide it to the viewer as quickly as possible so what impressed me with both stations was how they kept their standards high and just reported what they knew rather than try to become the story.

boycottOn the flip side, KSDK-4 in St. Louis dropped the ball big time. Rather than stick to reporting the news, the station became the news after they elected to sensationalize the story and show footage of the police officer’s home which had his address on the house. This caused an uproar from local viewers and led to the creation of a “Boycott KSDK” facebook page which as of last check had over 29,000 likes. Many of those people also planned to boycott outside the TV station to voice their unhappiness with the station’s lack of judgement.

The station to its credit came out and apologized after for their egregious error but the damage had been done. Poor judgement during a pivotal time cost the station its trust and loyalty from the audience and a whole lot of bad PR. One could make the case that their quest for higher ratings on this day, could cost them a lot more in the future.

FoxNewsSpinning it to the national side, Fox News almost always wins in the ratings because for the most part they do a good job. That top notch programming though wasn’t on display this weekend however. Instead I tuned in on 5 different occasions for coverage of the Ferguson story only to find the network showing taped programming or a quick news update. On one occasion they even presented a live show and focused content on Rick Perry’s issues in Texas rather than the Ferguson situation. That was very surprising and disappointing for a channel which is usually the first choice for news programming.

MSNBC meanwhile was slightly better than Fox News but they too were missing in action on the lead story too often. In a few instances I once again stumbled across taped programming rather than live coverage of the biggest news story in the country.

CNNThe one national network that owned the story was CNN. Anytime I put the channel on, they were focused on the story. While some of the coverage became tiresome due to repetition, they kept the focus on what mattered to most people and I felt after 3 days that if I wanted to know anything about the story from a national perspective that I could trust CNN for their commitment to it.

When stories like this unfold I think it’s extremely important to be all-in with your coverage. I can handle a listener complaining that we spent too much time on a major news story a lot better than having to explain why we were absent on it. Listeners and viewers turn to us hoping to receive information when things like this occur and if we’re not fully invested in the content that everyone is talking about, then we not only lose the audience today but we lose them in the future too when the next big event happens.

facts2I also think it’s critical when these types of stories come up to be very smart and factual when reporting information. When I see a channel like KSDK make an error and show a police officer’s address on live television during a time when tensions are high, I can’t help but wonder which manager made the call and what repercussions they’ll have to deal with for making such a bad judgement. The last thing you want to do in a situation like this is become the story and KSDK became that for a day when they made one really bad decision.

It reminded me of a situation I went through in St. Louis back in 2007. I was programming 590 The Fan in St. Louis the day the Mitchell Report was released. A ton of baseball players had been found guilty of using PED’s and rumors began to swirl that when the list was made public, Albert Pujols’ name would be on it. Albert was the most popular figure in St. Louis and had been a great representative of the city and his being on this list would no doubt crush his public perception and put his entire career under the microscope.

pujolsOur competitor 1380AM chose to go on-air and report that Pujols was indeed on the list. At the same time, Fox 2-KTVU made the same call and decided to send a crew over to Albert’s restaurant and ask patrons how they felt about Pujols being on the list and whether or not they’d eat at his place of business again in the future.

The guys on my staff started to get antsy and wanted to run with the story and a few were starting to question why I was holding back on going with the story. I remember getting into a spirited argument with one of my guys and I told him “I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to St. Louis’ biggest superstar and if I’m late reporting on him cheating the game of baseball I can live with it….but I won’t be ok sleeping tonight if we make a decision to report him as guilty when we don’t have evidence to show that he is“.

pujolsAn hour later the Mitchell Report came out and Albert Pujols’ name wasn’t on it. The staff seemed to be more relieved that we didn’t get beat to the story than happy that we were accurate but truth be told, it was a big risk. I had a 50/50 shot of being the hero or the goat and I chose to follow my gut and my beliefs which were “you’re innocent until proven guilty“. Maybe I’m old fashioned with situations like this but I’d rather be late and right than first and wrong.

The next day, I got a call from a member of Albert’s camp thanking me for how we handled the story and I specifically remember Albert expressing his disappointment with the local media during his first local news conference. Because we hadn’t presumed him guilty, he would grant a sit down interview with one of my reporters and one other local TV outlet who had also elected not to assassinate his character without evidence.

Now I didn’t care if Albert liked my radio station or not and I didn’t make that call hoping it would lead to him appearing on a show, I did it because it felt right and I believe attacking one’s character is only warranted when there’s evidence to support doing so. Going on witch hunts and reporting speculation is a dangerous area that usually results in the broadcaster having egg on their face. I can recall more personalities being suspended, fired and/or sued then those coming out on top after accusing someone of something without evidence.

tfIt sounds basic but when breaking news happens I think you’ve got to be on top of it immediately and you’ve got to ask the right questions. As difficult as it may be, you’ve got to separate fact and speculation and do so quickly. So many people are in a rush to get content on the air that they hear one side of a story and run with it and then when the other side comes out later, they look foolish. It’s ok to report the one side that you know but how you paint the picture has a lot to do with how you’ll have to navigate the next part later on.

Even worse though is turning a blind eye to a story and pretending it isn’t there. When we first launched 95.7 The Game in San Francisco we spent a lot of time talking about these types of situations and sure enough, during our first month on-air there was a huge local story that I felt our crew did an excellent job with while our competitor missed the boat.

49ersThe 49ers and Raiders played a pre-season game at Candlestick Park in August 2011 and at that game a number of fights broke out in the stands and bathrooms. There was also a shooting in the parking lot. It was a scary situation and easily the number one story throughout the Bay Area.

Our competitor that Monday did a nice job of landing Joe Montana for an interview fifteen minutes before we did, so they had the advantage of getting the perspective on the situation first from one of the most famous San Francisco 49ers of all-time – except they never asked him about the situation.

Instead they spent 8 minutes of the interview asking Joe about the San Francisco Giants and 2 minutes on Alex Smith’s QB abilities. As soon as I heard what they were doing, I called my morning producer to make sure we had a strong plan ready for when Joe appeared with us and sure enough we did.

montanaJoe then joined us right after that conversation and the first question from my morning crew was about the violence at Candlestick Park. We then spent the first 6-7 minutes of the interview talking about the situation with Joe and he was engaged in the topic and went as far as to tell us that when he played for the 49ers, he too saw similar situations occur in the stadium and didn’t always feel safe there. His comments would go on to make national news that day and become a topic of conversation for the rest of the broadcast day.

What happened that day was a result of good/bad strategic execution and that’s the same thing that took place this past weekend with the news coverage of the Ferguson situation.

dotherightthingI’ve seen people lose careers over making the wrong calls in these kind of situations and my approach is simple “dive into the story immediately, share the facts, allow for audience interaction and voice your opinion based on what you know“.

In these cases, we’re not the story – we’re simply the messenger passing along the information and giving people an outlet to express their opinion at. Your brand’s loyalty and trust are at stake and how you handle things determines whether or not your audience will turn to you again in the future.

I can tell you this, as someone who watches news television on a very limited basis, when the next major news story breaks my first stop will be to CNN not MSNBC or Fox News. It’s then CNN’s job to present the information well, keep the programming interesting and give me a reason to stay. If they don’t, then they’ve created an opportunity for their competition.

This is exactly what you’re faced with when the next big story breaks. Don’t try to be the one person in the room who thinks that just because everyone else is talking about it you don’t need to. That’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make. If you care about the needs of your audience and want their support in the future, give them what they came to you for.

GreenDayIt’s no different then going to see your favorite band. If they play every song that never was released and ignore the “hits“, chances are you’ll leave the show disappointed or less than satisfied. Those who crank out the tunes that everyone knows, usually benefit from having the crowd sing and dance along and spend more money on other CD’s, merchandise and tickets to future shows.

Like it or not, you work in the breaking news business and how you react to big events says a lot about your judgement and the way you value your audience. Embracing the subject, reporting the facts and allowing people an opportunity to weigh in puts you in position to form a deeper bond with the listener. Sensationalizing the content, reporting inaccurate information and choosing to ignore the story completely earns you mistrust, your brand being boycotted and in some cases unemployment.

Playing the hits isn’t difficult – you’ve just got to check your ego at the door and let the story be the star. Question is, can you do that?

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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