One of the real benefits of being removed from the inside of a radio station, is that you can analyze things about the industry without having your judgment skewed as a result of being too close to certain situations.
During the past 10 years, I’ve programmed four radio stations, and during that time I’ve always looked forward to ratings day. Usually once per month on a Monday at 12pm, my station’s would receive their report, and get a better understanding of how the audience was connecting with the product, where the strengths of the brand were, and what challenges needed to be addressed.
For some air talent, this was an important day because a strong performance meant a ratings bonus. For sales people it mattered because a good story could help them in their quest to gain larger investments from clients. And for some like myself, it was an opportunity to learn if the vision and execution for the brand was working.
Having had a chance now to step back, and remove myself from the daily rigors of running a station, I don’t miss that part at all. I thought I would but I don’t.
I know what you’re thinking “you’ve always loved ratings, and you’re not in a building, so that’s why it’s not as big of a deal”. Honestly, my opinion is based on a bigger reason – in its current state, the performance of a personality, brand, and talk show, can’t be measured accurately or receive its fair market value!
I could spend all day railing on the ineffective PPM ratings system, but that’s not my focus. The issue I have is with the mindset of our industry, those who buy and sell advertising, and those who have a chance to influence change but accept the status quo.
One of radio’s biggest problems, is that it’s reactionary. Rather than lead the charge to innovate, and introduce new brands, sounds, and people, the business lives in the past, and present.
How many markets can you think of where a personality who has failed or underperformed in the ratings, gets hired by 3-4 different stations? Rather than take the more difficult road, and introduce something new which will have short-term setbacks, but pay long-term dividends, we default to what we are comfortable with. Someone else’s trash becomes our treasure.
That’s not only an on-air problem, it’s a behind the scenes issue too. Sales people rotate back and forth between various stations in each city, because the talent pool is thin, and scouting, recruiting, and developing people is hard. It doesn’t matter if someone has not made budget multiple times for 2-3 other brands, if they join our team, we’ll get them on track.
That sounds good until the leopard shows their spots and delivers the same exact results as they had before.
I’m not here to single out anyone, but I do want to draw attention to what I believe is the future of impact, and it’s something that should be keeping every single Owner, Corporate Executive, General Manager, Sales Manager, Program Director and Advertising Agency Buyer awake at night.
I’m talking about the power of reach!
There is too much confusion in our business right now about what matters when measuring the performance of a station and/or personality. There’s also a poor understanding of the worth of our products across multiple platforms. More sales people look at the sum total of what they’ve asked a client for, and judge the transaction as a win or loss based on if they get the sale, rather than analyze the entire worth of the package.
Let me give you an example.
If you are in New York, Michael Kay is a pretty big deal. He’s the voice of the New York Yankees, and hosts afternoon drive on 98.7 ESPN New York. His program is simulcast on the YES Network, and can also be heard on SiriusXM, the station’s website and mobile app, as well as through TuneIn and Slacker.
For those who can’t hear it LIVE, audio and video of the program can also be enjoyed via a podcast on the station’s website, Apple iTunes, Player.FM, and on YesNetwork.com. Michael is also on Twitter and has 146,000 followers.
This is what a major brand looks like.
The only question is, does the program receive its full value from advertisers who have their products and messages delivered to listeners on all of these platforms? I want to believe that they do, but I’m not convinced.
Why do I say that? Because in running stations in multiple markets for the past 10 years, sales people are more focused on hitting their number, rather than looking at what the value is of their brand and controllable assets. Advertisers, and ad agencies also have this belief that if they’re going to give you one hundred thousand dollars for three months of advertising, then you better give them as much bang for their buck as possible.
In many cases the sales person will offer “added value” sponsorships before a client even asks for them. Many reps also lack confidence, and a keen understanding of digital and social media advertising, therefore generating large dollars on them becomes nearly impossible.
Now listen, there’s nothing wrong with super serving a client, and hitting the budgeted goal that was set for the sales rep based on traditional radio advertising. But it’s foolish to think we’re going to drastically increase rates and get our worth from advertisers, when our entire history shows we undervalue our brands, and cause our own pricing problems.
This past week in Philadelphia, WIP and 97.5 The Fanatic were engaged in a tight ratings race. WIP won the PPM battle which based on today’s standards means they were the #1 rated brand. However, the Fanatic’s streaming numbers were outstanding, which when combined with the over the air measurement, forced a dead heat between the two stations.
For both brands, they had a story to work with. Based on the existing model our industry works with, WIP is winning. Delivering radio ratings is what the talent are expected to do, and selling those ratings is what their reps are charged with. Except there’s one big problem – if these are the only two areas to concentrate on, how can the industry grow?
Do we really believe that advertisers are only going to care in the future about the way a station performs in PPM? Are sales reps going to only be measured based on how they sell traditional advertising?
We don’t seriously believe that listening through our websites, mobile apps, on-demand, and through other audio providers who we partner with doesn’t count do we? If a PPM meter picks up the audio signal then the listening counts, but if it doesn’t then the listener never really listened to our programming?
I’ve got a better chance of growing a full head of hair than listeners and buyers accepting that nonsense.
This goes back to radio being reactionary, rather than out in front. Who’s fault is it that we have poor measurement? Ours! Who decided to make programming available in all of these other locations yet accepted a system where those listening numbers don’t count towards our proof of performance? We did.
How can we on one hand place our content across multiple platforms, and reward the user, yet on the other hand limit our own ability to demand larger dollars from clients? The system they use to determine whether or not our product performs, doesn’t take into account the total amount of listening in all of these other locations.
You can make a case that the listening being done on all of these other platforms is more reliable than the number you receive in your monthly ratings report. We can tell which days and times a listener clicks on a button and streams the radio station, and which content appeals most to them. Meanwhile, we can’t be sure if we have 100,000 listeners sampling the station on a radio, because that number is determined by 20-30 people carrying a meter.
We also don’t know if those who carry meters have left the device near the radio and walked out of the room, or if they really listen. We have little information about what their content preferences are, and if one meter breaks routine and is unavailable to listen due to a business meeting, vacation, or other distraction, it has a drastic impact on that month’s ratings for the radio station.
How crazy is this, an individual could have their device on, walk into a grocery store which has the radio station playing over the speakers, and if the meter picks up the audio signal for five minutes, that station will get credit for listening. It doesn’t matter that the person with the meter was only exposed to the audio, and not interested in it.
Is this really the best we can do for ourselves, our advertisers and our listeners?
I believe total audience reach and brand association should be priority number one for clients and operators. You can have a great ratings report, and that’ll be part of your story, but as I showcased above with Michael Kay, advertisers are smart enough to recognize when a brand has power to connect their product with a big audience. If you want to reach the largest sum of people, you invest in partnerships with people who have the ability to pull in customers from numerous locations.
If Michael’s TV and radio ratings for the show were low, yet his streaming, podcast, mobile sessions, and audio partnerships were producing giant numbers, then he still has a big audience to offer to an advertiser. Sure it’s better if you have the ratings to go along with it, but listening is more splintered than ever, and the grand total of audience carries much more value than a monthly ratings report.
Think about this, if Michael sent out a tweet to his 146K followers promoting a company, and a bunch of people take his advice and buy the product, don’t you think that satisfies the client? Do they care where the lead came from? No! They simply want more customers, so they can make more money. If they associate with Michael, and their business grows, you better believe they’re going to continue investing in him, and his radio station, even as the rates increase.
If I was spending my money, I’d want to know that my company is reaching the largest audience possible, and providing a return on my investment. I don’t care what report you show me, I want to know that my message has been consumed, and it’s leading to results. However you accomplish it, and on which platform you do it, that’s irrelevant – just help me grow my business!
Voltair has already exposed PPM for having major flaws, and although Nielsen is taking steps to improve their measurement, industry leaders now question whether or not they are reliable. How are you supposed to change a perception when the reality is that the service isn’t 100% accurate? I’m not sure you can.
The most important lesson we’ve learned though, is that it’s the user who has changed the game. People want what they want, when they want it, on the platforms they consume content on, and it’s the company’s issue to figure out how to gain credit for the product consumption, and how to monetize it.
Case in point, look at Katie Nolan of Fox Sports.
In Katie’s case, her reach is way more powerful than her television program. I’ve watched a bunch of her material and I enjoy it immensely, but I have only watched her on television once! I’ve watched her videos on YouTube numerous times, and I’ve clicked links that she’s promoted on Twitter and Facebook. I don’t set an appointment to watch her on television, but I do seek out her content.
Does that mean my viewing doesn’t count or matter? Of course not. It’s Fox Sports’ issue to figure out how to monetize the audience who consume her work in multiple locations, and it’s Katie’s job to simply produce outstanding content that keeps the audiences coming back, and expanding.
If an advertiser is smart, they’ll invest with Katie and Fox, because they recognize they have an ability to reach people. In the end, it’s about brand exposure, influence, and sales. If Katie can put eyeballs and ears on a product, then it shouldn’t matter where it originates from. It’s even more likely to work if that advertiser utilizes her for a personal endorsement. When a talent passionately gets behind a product, the results are often much higher.
There’s another side to this story, and it applies to the advertisers and ad agencies. They need to be part of this solution too. Radio groups have lived and died with Arbitron and Nielsen because it was the system that agencies believed best reflected the interest of the audience in the station’s programming.
Does it have some benefits? Yes. Should it continue to be utilized? Sure. Does counting streaming and mobile help? Yes. But if you’re an advertiser, and you’re utilizing an agency to place your advertising, you should want to see more specifics, results, and total cume across all media platforms, not just a radio and/or television ratings report.
Wouldn’t you want to see what an impact looks like for your brand if you associate your product with a station or personality’s Facebook and Twitter accounts? Wouldn’t you like to know how your brand benefits by being associated with the station’s podcast, and YouTube page?
Maybe your sponsorship includes an association to the brand through TuneIn, Slacker and iTunes. If a show is on radio and television, are you being featured in both locations, and how do you explain it if the advertising is working on the show in one location but not the other?
After all of that has been considered (and there’s many more ways to extend a sponsorship too), then you have to decide, which percentage of your buying should be higher on certain platforms, and lower on others. You also need to decide if you’re willing to invest more in reaching more people. For some clients, that’s not possible.
Is it a lot of extra work with enormous challenges for radio people and buyers? Yes. But we’re not living in a world anymore where television viewing takes place between channels 2 and 13, and radio listening happens only inside of an automobile. We owe it to ourselves, our clients, and our listeners, to do better in showcasing our brand’s true story.
The final piece to this puzzle, comes from the talent side. And this is an area that is going to give some operators and executives indigestion.
Talent today are paid to perform a radio program, which can also be featured on the station’s website, mobile app, and through other audio partnerships. If the program they perform delivers a strong PPM ratings performance, most groups reward them with a quarterly bonus.
Talent are also asked to endorse products in exchange for additional compensation, and most employers require that they contribute to their companies digital efforts either through creating additional written or video content.
But what happens when they start losing out on bonuses because the product is being consumed in other places where it impacts their credit?
What if a program delivers massive streaming numbers or podcasting numbers, but it’s not showing up on the ratings report? Shouldn’t the talent be incentivized for that? If they get behind the strategy, promote it effectively, and the station delivers record numbers on these platforms, which leads to increased interest and business from clients, shouldn’t the talent share in the success? Will bonuses change in the future and include performance incentives across all audio platforms?
I hear radio companies today talk a lot about the importance of being stronger in the digital space, and users have already demonstrated that they will reward those efforts if the content available is good, and presented by personalities they enjoy reading or listening to. However, what I don’t see being discussed is how the talent shares in this space.
If you’re a personality, and you’re hired to host a radio program, deliver ratings, and help advertisers sell their products, and you check all of those boxes, you’ve done your job. However, if you’re willing to add on writing and creating video for the brand’s digital platforms, that’s even better. It shows you’re willing to do whatever it takes to connect with your audience, and support your employer.
But when that added work starts to register, and becomes profitable to the place of business, employers shouldn’t be surprised when a talent is back inside the office with their hands out asking for more. If you want to grow your digital performance you need great performers, and the talent will do the work, but eventually it will cost something.
In your place of business, do you have a bonus system in place for a talent if they deliver a certain number of podcast downloads? Do you have a rate card established for talent who endorse a client’s products on their Twitter account? Is there an incentive strategy for them if they produce written or video content and deliver an agreed upon number of clicks?
I’m not talking about “added value”, “we’ll get you some trade” or “we’ll throw a few bucks your way”. If we can create a radio ratings bonus structure to keep talent pushing to perform, then there should be other systems in place to reward them for taking on additional projects to help the company grow its digital footprint.
The mentality too often in our industry is to demand our people to do more, and fail to reward them for it. When we do that it usually results in them doing what was requested, but not emotionally getting behind it. It’s equivalent to reading a LIVE mention, and delivering a personal endorsement. One pays you, one doesn’t. Coincidentally the talent invest themselves in the LIVE spot, and breeze past the mentions.
This may require bigger conversations with multiple leaders, and different companies, but as the media landscape continues to evolve, this will become a bigger focus, and if we don’t start thinking about it and planning for it now, it could become a bigger problem.
The last thing I’ll leave you with is this. Today, we place the content of our shows into multiple locations, which leads to splintered listening, yet we fail to build a complete strategy to capitalize on all of it. You can offer great content in ten different places, but the user is still only going to consume it in one. If you’re going to do that, and potentially impact your own performance on a platform which may be more important, shouldn’t you be sure that it makes financial sense to do so?
There’s a world out there that craves our content, but likes to choose when and where they get it. It’s our job to figure out how to capitalize on that interest, and promote our effectiveness across ALL channels, not just one measurement system.
To succeed there needs to be additional training, new ideas, and new people. You can’t expect everyone to grasp every new concept, and what they’re preparing for today, may not even be what’s important to your business’ bottom line in 2-3 years.
There is though one thing I firmly believe. If you want to command larger dollars in the present and future, you better have reach on your side. Total audience has more staying power, and long-term revenue potential than any other measurement.
My advice, be everywhere you can, and have a game plan for how you’ll present your data to those who are considering doing business with you. No client is going to reject doing business with you if you have a large audience to offer. Even if it’s built through multiple platforms. You can stick with what you know, and do what radio is notorious for doing, which is waiting for it to become a bigger deal. The only question I have is, can you really afford it?
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?
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.