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The Producer and Host Relationship

Jason Barrett

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I’m a fan of a variety of music and one group who’s style I’ve grown fond of the past 7-8 years is the heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold. Initially the band’s earlier songs lacked flow from start to finish. They’d feature some excellent riffs, lyrics and instrumental parts but when the songs were completed they felt like they were missing something. I could tell the band’s talent was there but they hadn’t figured out how to put it all together.

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As the years passed, I’ve noticed how the group has matured and become more focused and serious about the song writing process. Their songs now sound well organized and have a much stronger flow and the lyrics and melodies have become much stronger. Coincidentally they’re selling more records now than they ever have before.

Now you’re probably thinking “what the heck does that have to do with sports talk radio” and actually there’s a specific reason why I’m bringing it up. Make sure to read the question and answer exchange at top of the article. In it you’ll notice some of the feedback from Guitarist Zacky Vengeance who talked to Revolver Magazine about the involvement of a producer in the band’s music making process.

closedThis is important because it’s no different than what occurs in radio. In this case, the “talent” went in with a closed mind and initially rejected the idea of coaching and constructive criticism, only to discover later that when they embraced it, they made better music. When people collaborate and keep an open mind to the content creation process, more times than not the result is better than when one tries to go it alone.

I’m not pointing this out so you’ll enter your building tomorrow and give your producer a big hug and tell them you’ll listen to them in the future. Doing that and changing your approach isn’t going to unlock some magical formula that is going to assure you of having a kick ass show that dominates in the ratings.

bradyjoshInstead I’m bringing it up to illustrate the value in having a strong producer involved in the daily process. In many cases, this individual is another supporter and believer in your abilities and they’re willing to be honest, candid and helpful to seeing you reach your full potential as a personality.

One thing that always stands out to me is how similar the responses are when I talk to different talent about how they measure their growth or improvement. Most will say stuff like “we chat as a show about what we thought worked and that determines if we’re making progress or not“, “the ratings tell us if what we’re doing is working” and my personal favorite “you can feel when it’s good or when it isn’t“.

gameplanWhile there’s some validity to those responses, how can anyone truly show performance improvement if these are the ways talent go through the improvement and coaching process? If I asked you as a host to show me a clear difference of something you’ve worked on and improved upon over the past 90 days could you do it? Maybe some could but I guarantee most couldn’t.

Call me old fashioned but I still believe there is an art to creating great radio and it starts with preparation, shared vision and a game plan to track success. If those things aren’t in place or don’t matter and regular feedback isn’t provided, then how can you tell if you’re any better or different than from when you first spoke to an audience on a microphone? Aside from a possible voice change or different PD opinion, you’re going to be hard pressed to prove you’ve grown as a broadcaster.

Think for a second about professional sports and how it relates to this situation. I’ll use Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw as my examples since they’re both at the top of their games. Each spends a few hours watching video to study their own performances as well as their opponents tendencies and they’ll seek out further opinion from their managers, coaches and fellow teammates in order to make sure they’re set up to have success. Why do they do it? To get better and help their teams win.

excusesThese guys spend 9-10 hours per day at their jobs, they travel constantly and juggle media, fans and sponsor requests plus find time to sleep, spend time with their families, work out and do some things to take their mind off the game. Still they find time to evaluate their work and the competition. Oh and they do this while making millions! They’ve got plenty of excuses to be lazy but they don’t use them because they’re focused on always getting better.

Sports isn’t the only industry that’s relatable. Let’s use an example from the movie business. Leonardo DiCaprio makes millions to shoot a movie and I’m sure some directors would probably just let him walk into a room and say “do whatever you want and we’ll film it and make it great” but instead a guy like DiCaprio seeks out top notch directors like Martin Scorsese who are going to challenge him and cast him in roles that help him be his very best. There’s obviously a respect and trust between director and actor and due to that connection, the product on the screen is usually strong and movie fanatics show their appreciation by filling up theatres to watch their work.

Most radio talent have more time available, less distractions and a lot less money than a professional athlete or film star yet most don’t make time to assess how they’re performing, what they’re going to do to get better going forward and how they’re going to measure it. Some personalities never listen back to their work or embrace hearing what’s less than stellar on the show and it baffles me because if you’re not willing to hear honesty from those who care and appreciate your talents then how do you expect to grow?

This is why I chose today to focus on the producer-talent relationship. If a show truly wants to grow and find its groove, it starts with those two individuals and then it extends to the Program Director. No full-time show tandem spends more time together than Host-Producer so if that combination isn’t clicking, the rest of the product can be in big trouble.

Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, Darrell BevellThose who have worked for me have heard me use this following example. Inside any radio station, I see the Program Director as the Head Coach, the Producer as the Offensive Coordinator and the On-Air talent as the Quarterback. We must all to agree on what style of offense we’re going to play before we hit the field but once we’re out there, we need to trust our training, work together on the game plan and respect, understand and utilize what each other does so we can have individual and team success.

respectIf you’re a producer and you think you’re going to instruct your talent to “do as they’re told“, good luck getting anything done. They’re the star the audience is paying to see and you need to respect that, appreciate it and remember it. You can put things down on paper and beat someone up for every small detail that gets missed but if you don’t enjoy the wins and remind your on-air talent of when they do something outstanding, you’ll never get the full support you’re seeking.

Some producers think that doing a talk show is easy and formatics should never be missed but that’s not realistic. That’s like expecting Peyton Manning to never throw an interception. Clearly he has the talent to make every throw on the field and his intention isn’t to make a mistake but people are human and they screw up sometimes.

radiostudioI remember meeting once in St. Louis with a group of producers and when I raised the question of why we weren’t supplying our talent with more information to further support their opinions on the air, I was told that it required a lot more work and the talk show hosts were paid a lot to know to sports so they should know it all.

I then asked the group “can you remember the 5-6 bullet points to one of your topics from earlier today“? After being told they could, I took a group of producers down the hall to a production studio, turned on a microphone and had them each try to do a 10-minute segment recalling what they thought they remembered from earlier that day. Not one lasted 2 minutes.

The purpose of the exercise wasn’t to demonstrate that they couldn’t host a show like a personality could, it was to make them aware of just how tough it is to remember everything inside your head. When you have the benefit of information in front of you on paper or on a screen and when you know you have someone in your corner who’s trying to give you details to help you along, you’re going to be more likely to place your faith in them. If the producer maintained the initial mindset that existed when we first entered that meeting, the talent would have lost respect, trust and interest in working with him in the future.

What people off the air sometimes lose sight of is that doing a 3-4 hour radio show 5 days per week and being entertaining, compelling and interesting to an audience is very hard! Even the best in the business have off-days and off-segments. The challenge is getting your people past those bumps in the road and not letting it become a consistent issue.

stinkOn the other hand, if you’re a talent, you need to be cognizant of the fact that your shit does stink some time and the one who’s going to tell you, is the person who’s in your corner the most, your producer. If you really care about being great, then you have to be open minded to feedback and criticism. It comes with the territory. If Peyton Manning can face millions of people after an off-day in the Super Bowl, then you should be able to handle some dialogue with your producer.

Most producer’s have good intentions and want to earn the trust and respect of their hosts. If they’re being hard on a host for breaking late, blowing off a tease or asking bad questions during an interview, they’re doing it because they know the host can do better and they want to help that person reach their full potential. They take pride in the show just like the host does and they want to see their hard work pay off in the eyes of the audience, their peers and their bosses.

officespaceOne misconception I’ve seen and heard too many times in multiple markets from a number of hosts is what they believe a producer’s job is. Many think the job is to book 2-3 guests, print a few stories off the internet, answer the phones, grab coffee and stay out of the way. That is not a producer. That is called a “yes man”. You can break it into other parts too such as “booker”, “information gatherer”, “call screener”, “runner”, etc.

A producer is going to work with you to “produce” content and shape the vision for the show and do everything in their power to see that the vision becomes a reality. They’re not there to sit back and wonder where the show is going or why it’s going there. Having a plan and an agreed upon destination that both people are aware of shouldn’t require pulling teeth.

If someone is working on a show with you and they’re not challenging you on where things are going or asking to be more involved with the layout then that’s when you should be concerned as a host. Anyone who cares about the program and helping you deliver a great product is going to want to work with you on the show’s creation. They’re also going to look for ways to add to the presentation while the show is in progress because having an idea of what’s going to take place fosters more creativity.

stevejobsFor those who produce shows, think of the way you approach your show each day and ask yourself “what’s the one thing I’ve worked on with my host in the past 30-60 days to make them better“? If you can’t identify it, then it’s something you’re going to want to work on.

Maybe you’re waiting for the feedback to come from the mouth or email of your PD but if you want the respect of your talent, then you can lead the charge too when you hear an opportunity for something to improve. If the only time you speak up to offer advice is when the PD is present, how do you expect the host to trust your evaluation of their work?

If you’ve thought about the areas where your personality can improve but haven’t been able to come up with a plan for how to make it better that’s ok. In that case, talk to your PD and let them know what you think could be tighter on the show and give some examples to support your beliefs. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it and then work with you to come up with a strategy for how to measure improvement.

nielsenI’ll wrap this piece up with this, if your future earning potential and length of stay at your current place of work was measured on your ratings growth or being able to demonstrate improvement in what you’re doing, what would you put your faith in? One system is flawed and out of your control, the other is in your hands and only takes your commitment, creating a detailed plan and holding yourself accountable.

If you produce a show, listen to it closer and think of the places inside of it where you can help. If you’re on the air, think of the advantage you have by having a trusted colleague working next to you to help you create a great show. In some markets, personalities are producing their own shows and I know a few who have also had to host while producing and running their own board. That’s not fun but neither is the flip side, paying for great support, only to have the host not value it or utilize it.

measuregrowthHere’s a challenge for you. Host/Producer, identify one thing you both agree could be better on the show and spend the next 30 days trying to make it better. Whether it’s your teases going to break, resetting the show during segments, improving the pace of the show, shortening your interviews or diving into content faster at the start of segments. There are a ton of other possibilities too but that gives you some things to get started.

Pull some audio to show how it sounds when it works or fails and come up with a game plan for what you’re going to do differently to make it better. Step back in 30 days to see where you’re at and continue the dialogue with one another to keep finding ways to make the show feel better and more fulfilling.

mjjaxLet’s be honest, you wouldn’t be in your position if you didn’t have ability to do the job. However, a lot of people have talent and those who push themselves to continue improving go further. Great ones like Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter didn’t need to be told to accept coaching, work with their teammates or find ways to measure and improve their performances regularly, they did it because they wanted to be the best at what they did.

If they could do it then there’s no reason you can’t. Measuring your improvement isn’t difficult and it’s not a bad place to start when showing your bosses why you’re worth a larger investment down the road. Then again, if you don’t want to go that way, you can always put your fate in the hands of the Nielsen gods. Please be sure to let me know how that turns out for you.

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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