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When Will The Sports Radio Bubble Burst?

Jason Barrett

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In August, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf spoke at the Television Critics Association summer tour about the state of the television industry. Landgraf said “I long ago lost the ability to keep track of every scripted TV series, but this year, I finally lost the ability to keep track of every programmer who is in the scripted programming business. This is simply too much television, and my sense is that 2015 or 2016 will represent peak TV in America, and then we’ll begin to see declines coming the year after and beyond.”

On the other hand, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings shares a different point of view. Speaking last week at The New York Times DealBook Conference he said “John’s wrong. There’s not nearly enough. There’s a lot more food than ever before, there’s a lot more choice, but I think when you do great content you’re going to find viewers. It comes back to entertainment spending, and entertainment spending has been increasing faster than disposable income for decades. I think as we come up with new experiences, when you look at virtual reality and how that’s going to improve video gaming, you’re seeing continued investment in entertainment.”

toomuchBoth men raise interesting points and a case can be made for each but I’m not here to analyze whether television has too much programming. I want to spin it towards the sports radio industry because the same question deserves to be asked – are there too many stations operating the format, and does that hurt the format’s ability to generate higher ratings and larger revenues?

When you look at the sports radio landscape today, there are 5 national networks offering the product full time. If you want to include Sports Byline that makes 6.

Then you have SiriusXM which provides national content through Mad Dog Radio and Bleacher Report, and delivers targeted content on channels such as NBA Radio, MLB Home Plate, the NFL channel, NHL Radio and College Sports Nation.

That’s just the national talk part of the conversation. Now let’s add play-by-play into the mix.

Westwood One, Sports Radio USA, Compass Media Networks, IMG, Learfield Communications, and the Touchdown Radio Network all play in this space, and I may be missing one or two but you get the picture.

Now let’s take a look at the local markets. For the sake of this conversation, I’m going to focus on the Top 25 markets. If we went beyond that, you’d find many smaller markets featuring the same amount of choice which is even more alarming considering there are less people and advertisers in many of these places.

MARKET STATIONS
NEW YORK CITY WFAN, 98.7 ESPN NY
LOS ANGELES ESPN LA 710, 570 KLAC, 980 THE BEAST, AM 830 KLAA
CHICAGO 670 THE SCORE, ESPN 1000
SAN FRANCISCO KNBR 680, 95.7 THE GAME, 1050 KNBR
DALLAS 105.3 THE FAN, 1310 THE TICKET, ESPN 103.3
HOUSTON 610 KILT, ESPN 97.5, SPORTS TALK 790, 1560 KGOW
WASHINGTON DC 106.7 THE FAN, ESPN 980, CBS SPORTS RADIO 1580
PHILADELPHIA 97.5 THE FANATIC, 94 WIP, 610 SPORTS
ATLANTA 92.9 THE GAME, 680 THE FAN, ESPN 1230, FOX SPORTS 1340
BOSTON 93.7 WEEI, 98.5 THE SPORTS HUB, ESPN WEEI 850
MIAMI 790 THE TICKET, 560 WQAM, 640 SPORTS, 940 WINZ
DETROIT 97.1 THE TICKET, DETROIT SPORTS 105.1, WDFN 1130AM
SEATTLE 710 ESPN, 950 KJR, 1090 THE FAN
PHOENIX ARIZONA SPORTS 98.7, FOX SPORTS 910, NBC SPORTS 1060
MINNEAPOLIS KFAN 100.3, 1500 ESPN
SAN DIEGO MIGHTY 1090, XTRA SPORTS 1360
DENVER 104.3 THE FAN, 105.5 ESPN, MILE HIGH SPORTS 1340AM
TAMPA 620 WDAE, 1040 THE TEAM
BALTIMORE 105.7 THE FAN, WNST AM 1570, CBS SPORTS RADIO 1300
ST. LOUIS 101 ESPN, CBS SPORTS 920, 590 THE FAN, 1490 THE CHAMP
PORTLAND 1080 THE FAN, RIP CITY RADIO 620, 750 THE GAME, 910 ESPN
CHARLOTTE 610 THE FAN, ESPN 730, FOX SPORTS 98.7
PITTSBURGH 93.7 THE FAN, 970 ESPN
SAN ANTONIO ESPN 1250, THE TICKET 760, CBS SPORTS RADIO 860
SACRAMENTO KHTK 1140, ESPN 1320

As crowded as the list above might be, I’m not even close to being done.

In Pittsburgh and Boston for example, The Boston Herald and the Pittsburgh Tribune have their own full service sports radio stations online through their websites. Those count as programming options which pull away sports radio listeners.

In most of these markets, you’ll find News/Talk brands that also dabble in sports. To shed light on a few, KMOX and KTRS in St. Louis, have produced sports talk at night and on the weekends along with carrying play by play. KOA in Denver, WGN in Chicago, WOR in New York, and WCCO in Minneapolis have all followed a similar strategy.

thexThen you have music brands which also get involved. In Pittsburgh, 105.9 The X offers music throughout the day, and Mark Madden’s afternoon sports show and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. 102.5 WDVE which is also in Pittsburgh and a classic rock brand, is the home for Pittsburgh Steelers football.

I haven’t even touched on the stations that offer sports programming in Spanish. When you add them into this conversation, it becomes even more congested.

As of January 2015, the sports format was the 4th largest at 794 stations in the United States. Only Country, News/Talk and Spanish formats received more clearance. Growth has been consistent for nearly a decade, and to put it in perspective, in 2005 there were 500 sports stations, which means that there’s been nearly 60% growth during the past 10 years.

But is that a good thing?

In many of these markets, stations are clearing the programming and using the clearance to justify larger dollars from national advertisers, but the performance is minimal. While the industry loves to tout the number 794 to illustrate massive interest in the programming, it’s a case of smoke and mirrors. Yes there are brands doing a phenomenal job to captivate audiences, but there are also hundreds who are filling air time with national content, and not generating ratings or revenue.

listeningWhat becomes more puzzling is when you look at the total percentage of audience who consume sports radio. The format’s success is largely dependent on Men 25-54, and even if you stretched the demographic to Men 18-64, an entire market might produce 15-25% of listening. Certain cities like Boston and Detroit may outperform that number, but as a whole this is where we are.

If that’s the percentage of listening that’s available, then how can 4-5 brands operate the format in one local city and expect to run a successful business?

Some folks will point to stations that only offer national content on a smaller brand and say that they shouldn’t count, but the way I see it, if a station can be heard in a local market, and sports programming exists on it, then it counts. If that station pulls in a half a point of listening, that’s a half a point that didn’t go to one of the other sports radio brands in the market.

You can make a case that a city like New York which has close to 15 million people and 9 professional sports teams, can support three sports stations. Dallas and Houston have already demonstrated that three can work, but Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco haven’t had the same luck. However, I can’t see three to four sports brands being successful in a market like St. Louis, Portland, Pittsburgh, or Baltimore.

Seattle and Minneapolis (which have a larger population than each of those four cities) tried to introduce a third sports talker over the past few years only to fail. Another similar sized city, Tampa, saw its only FM sports brand (98.7 The Fan) get flipped when the station was sold by CBS to Beasley. The feeling was that the pie wasn’t large enough, even though The Fan had started to make inroads.

chooseIt may sound good when we tell people the format is nearly 800 stations strong, but the performance can’t match the distribution. Many in the industry today believe there are too many networks offering national programming. The same can be said of play-by-play providers, and local markets with too many choices and not enough people to listen to them.

With digital listening growing, it’s only a matter of time until the options for consuming content become even smaller. Television is on the verge of an ala carte viewing world, and radio will experience the same fate. The listener today has less time, more distractions, and they want more control, and once the inside of their vehicle matches their cell phone or computer, it’s going to be a game changer. It won’t matter if you have distribution, it’ll matter if your brand and personalities are important enough to be consumed.

To put it in simpler terms, a personality like Bill Simmons will be more valuable than an entire radio station. Users won’t care if the content is distributed through radio or a podcast. If it’s digital or terrestrial radio. If the show is on a station with a big signal or a digital channel that can be picked up by having a wifi connection. You can offer them ten different local outlets to enjoy sports programming and they’re going to go to the one that supplies them consistently with the best content experience.

This discussion started with two CEO’s disagreeing over whether or not there is too much programming on television. I connect more with FX Networks CEO John Landgraf who says there are too many choices, and I believe the same holds true for sports radio.

Being available as an option on the dial is one thing, but standing out on it is another. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. That’s what sports radio groups need to focus on because without high quality programming it’s only a matter of time before a brand is obsolete.

I can’t help but think about how much better our format would be in local markets if the best content and people weren’t so divided between so many stations. They say there’s strength in numbers, but I’m not so sure that’s accurate in this case.

Crunching The Numbers:

WDAE in Tampa enjoyed a good October book. The station finished 7th with a 4.9 in the desired Men 25-54 demographic. That was up from 3.8 in September, and a 4.3 during the same time last year.

KNBR in San Francisco turned in a great October, finishing 1st with a 6.3 with Men 25-54. Year to year the station was down nearly three points (9.2) but but that’s largely due to the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series last year.

95.7 The Game in San Francisco had a strong month finishing 6th with a 4.1 with Men 25-54. The station was up from 3.9 in September, and beat KNBR in the 12p-3p timeslot. The Game’s “Papa and Lund” finished in that slot in 3rd with a 5.2. KNBR’s “Fitz & Brooks” were 4th with a 4.7.

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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