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Does It Pay To Be On Social Media?

Jason Barrett

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It’s evening time. You’ve arrived home from work, ate your dinner, and are finally unwinding and getting ready to watch your television. If you work in the sports media business, that likely means watching some form of sports programming.

socialtvYou absorb the content, and before you know it, you’re reaching for your phone, iPad, or laptop, and logging on to one of your social media accounts to see what others are saying about the program you’re watching.

As you start reading the comments, they get your juices flowing. Soon you have the itch to type a response, and engage in the conversation. After all, you get paid to talk, and interact with people on your show each day, and you have bosses, and the entire media industry telling you how vital it is to connect with the audience outside of your show to build deeper fan loyalty.

And then it happens…..you press send, and offer an opinion that gets the whole world talking, and not for the right reason.

The responses to your opinion start coming in rapidly. Your audience begins sharing and retweeting your commentary, and soon the media industry, one which you make your living in, is now highlighting your opinion, and seeking your removal and/or an apology.

You start to panic, and think “maybe I can delete the comment and this will all go away“. Except, it’s been saved at this point by numerous outlets, and you recognize that it’s going to spread like a virus no matter what you do.

Then you ponder “what if I just apologize, and promise not to do it again“? That sounds good in theory, but the damage has already been done, and the dogs are lined up outside the door, and barking, and not going away until they taste blood.

cellAs you contemplate the chaos you’re involved in, you decide to reach out to your boss, and let them know what’s transpired, so they know the situation, and understand your role in it. Whether you get along great or terribly with this individual is irrelevant, because you know the conversation is necessary.

Together you discuss the next steps for handling the storm, and when you go to sleep that night, you’re hopeful to wake up the next day and have it all be just a dream. Except it isn’t, and the nightmare isn’t close to being over.

Then the phone call comes in. It’s likely your Program Director, or it might even be your General Manager, or CEO, asking for more details on what took place.

You offer your thoughts on the situation, and explain how you were simply taking part in a conversation with the audience outside of the show, and offered an opinion that wasn’t well received. But you do this all the time on your show, so this shouldn’t be any different right?

Your boss listens to you, probably takes some notes, and tells you they’ll be in touch afterwards to discuss what to do next.

At this point you’re stressed out, blaming yourself (or the audience who outed you) for putting your commentary on social media, and you’re walking on egg shells waiting to hear how the company wants to proceed.

vinceAnd then the phone call comes…..you’ve been suspended or fired.

Instantly you’re asking your employers to reconsider. You’re pissed off at the audience for making a big deal out of what you thought was an innocent comment. You’re feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable about your future because you know this blemish is now going to hang over your head like a dark black cloud.

And as I sit here laying out this scenario for you, I have one simple question I want you to answer – did it make any sense at all to participate on social media?

Some people will immediately say “well if you weren’t stupid and didn’t say those things, you wouldn’t be in this predicament“. That’s true. I often read some personalities social media responses and question their line of judgment because I know that they’re on the verge of unflattering attention for a pointless reason.

I also recognize though that some of the most opinionated people in our business, performers who by the way drive ratings, and command big advertising endorsement rates (and offer similar commentaries on-air that they’re now being attacked for using on social media), don’t always handle things properly. I don’t want to excuse personal responsibility because it should factor into the equation.

But let’s also recognize that people are human, and they do have flaws, and make mistakes.

Here’s a cold reality. In every industry, there are people who’s views, character traits, and decisions, will make you uneasy. You see them as the lowest form of scum, while others see them in a different light.

When it comes to social circles, we gravitate towards those we like, but still we focus our additional energies on people we don’t identify with. As petty as it may be, we spend a lot of time and negative energy analyzing what other people say and do.

logosThat today has become one of the most powerful seductions for Twitter and Facebook. You wake up, read your timeline, and you interact with those you like, and then proceed to talk or complain about a couple of others who posted something that you don’t agree with.

Is it really important? No. But in today’s world, we’re consumed with everyone’s opinion, and we feel an immediate need to dive into everyone else’s conversation.

That doesn’t make social media bad. Instead it calls into question our own abilities to operate with a filter. We want to be ourselves, and speak freely without consequence, and when you’re communicating with people you have established relationships with, that may be acceptable. When you’re presenting your views though to those you share no personal history with, that’s a different ballgame.

It’s our own personal responsibility to assess whether it makes sense to respond, or walk away from certain conversations. Unfortunately, most of us can’t help to stop and look at the car crash, rather than continue driving.

Personally, I enjoy social media, and many of the benefits it provides. But I’m also not on the air, and I don’t command the same attention that an on-air personality does. If I were working in that position, and had every one of my assessments being scrutinized, as much as I love being social, and connecting with people, I’d have to think twice about my level of activity, and what I hoped to gain by being accessible on it.

I know that may sound crazy since every media company today preaches the importance of social media, and why it’s necessary to be active, but let me ask you this – how much money have you or your brand made off of Twitter? How about Facebook?

lionsIf your best personalities can’t turn off their emotions (which by the way, you love and push for more of when they’re on the air), and have a rational conversation on social media without torching their own career and your brand in the process, then is it really worth it to be on there in the first place?

These are highly emotional, and opinionated people, and we send them into the lion’s den, but ask them to play nice. Each day they log on to their accounts, and share their personal beliefs, and invite the world in, while enduring public criticisms, and personal attacks. We then expect them not to be brash or irrational with their responses when faced with negativity. While we may want all talent to flip a switch, and avoid confrontation over meaningless drama, not everyone marches to the same beat.

I want to understand this, and approach the conversation strictly from a business point of view for a second, because remember, this is a business, and everything we do comes back to the almighty dollar.

If you make little to no money by being on Twitter, and the same holds true for your presence on Facebook, yet you stand to lose your livelihood if you make a mistake on one of these platforms, then can someone please tell me why it makes any sense at all to be candid, engaged, and heavily involved in these social spaces?

The risk certainly seems to outweigh the reward.

I’ve heard certain personalities who choose not to participate in social media, say that they believe that by sharing their lives and opinions outside their show, it takes away from the mystery of their programs, and could potentially cost them additional audience. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of that (I can make a case that by promoting yourself, and your show on social media it can lead to an increase in tune-ins), I do understand their point, and concern.

moneyA talent makes their money on the air. Their ratings determine whether or not they get to continue doing it. If speaking your mind in other locations takes away from the allure of what you’ll offer on your show, then I can understand why there’d be hesitation to participate. Some managers may frown upon that, but this is why you can’t treat every personality the same.

What I don’t understand though is why we all feel the need to be in these spaces, and why we continue to think that our comments on social media aren’t seen by all, and potentially damaging. I’ve sat back and watched some personalities swear, ridicule and insult listeners, and trash other companies, yet they wouldn’t do most of that on their own airwaves. They’re not being paid by these social media outlets to be outspoken, but still they feel the need to express themselves more candidly here, than they often do on their own radio stations.

Here’s a newsflash for every on-air personality, and public figure, Twitter and Facebook are no different than your radio or television station. When you type a comment, and press send, your opinion enters the social media universe, which is equal to grabbing the microphone, and saying something offensive that leads to the FCC or your own company taking action against you. You may think that it’s this fun little platform where you can be yourself and have colorful conversations, but it’s not.

I started thinking about this subject based on the story that generated national attention yesterday. Mike Bell of 92.9 The Game in Atlanta made some unflattering jokes and comments about ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza, and his poor judgment on social media led to him being suspended by the radio station.

I personally think Mike made a terrible error, and he said some things that were insensitive and stupid. The station had every right to suspend him, and I applaud them for taking action.

jessica2I also think his analysis of Jessica Mendoza was off base. As a Yankees fan, I watched that game, and was curious to see how she’d perform, and I came away from that broadcast extremely impressed. She was sharp, well spoken, easy to follow, made excellent points and counterpoints, and proved that she belonged on that stage.

Yes her involvement as an analyst on a baseball broadcast is foreign territory, and as we’ve seen so many times, change isn’t accepted quickly. The immediate response from most people is to complain, and reject any new idea until it’s proven to be socially acceptable.

What I learned from this story, is that Jessica has a lot of talent, and class, and she lets her work speak for her. If you browse her Twitter account, you’ll find most of her tweets promote something she’s involved in, or she’s retweeting something positive. That’s a smart approach. By steering clear of controversial discussions, it keeps her in control, and unlikely to be in a position to have to explain herself to her bosses, or even worse, the entire country.

On the other hand, there are so many others that can’t hit the delete button, and have put themselves in hot water by using poor judgment on social media.

In the past week alone, Mike Bell was suspended, a social media staffer for the Texas Rangers was fired after posting a remark about Texas Head Football Coach Charlie Strong on the team’s Twitter account, and one of the world’s most powerful media moguls Rupert Murdoch was under the microscope for a tweet where he said “Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.”

If you’re keeping score, that’s one media person suspended, another fired, and another publicly embarrassed and likely to face some advertiser backlash, all because they used poor judgment on social media platforms.

prosconsSo I ask these questions again – why are you on there, and is it really worth it?

If the risk means losing your career, or being publicly embarrassed, and there’s no money or career advancement coming your way from being active on it, then why do it?

What brings this full circle for me is that we focused a lot of attention this week on the Mike Bell-Jessica Mendoza controversy, but it never should have even been a topic of conversation in the first place. If Curt Schilling, hadn’t taken to social media, and performed like Mike Bell, Jessica Mendoza wouldn’t have been in that position to draw a reaction.

Which goes to show that when you follow Mendoza’s example, and use social media in small doses, and for the right reasons, you avoid dangerous situations, make a lot of money, and professionally benefit. Bell and Schilling should be taking notice of that, not just her performance in a baseball booth! Although that too may cause future problems for Curt.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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