It’s common for each of us to take a few minutes each year to walk down memory lane and reflect on all we experienced during the previous 12 months. We re-live all of our trials and tribulations, and make promises to ourselves for the new year that we’ll soon forget, and hope to simply live long enough to do it all again the following December.
Except this time, I’m actually appreciating the process and taking the time to enjoy everything I endured in 2015. On the surface, it was a year which started with me working inside the halls of a radio station, and ended with me operating a business out of a home office. That normally doesn’t sound like a year full of growth and optimism. But for yours truly, it was everything I could’ve hoped for and it gives me great confidence that 2016 will be even better.
We all reach a point in our lives when we have to face a difficult situation and make a tough choice. Although I’ve had more than my fair share of them over the years, none were as challenging, stressful, important and satisfying as the one I made in 2015.
Last Christmas, I went home to New York to spend the holiday’s with my family. My contract in San Francisco was expiring in June 2015 and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to stay. Being separated from my son by 3,000 miles was emotionally exhausting, and after nine years of flying back and forth every other weekend, I finally had enough.
There were also some personal things developing in his life that I knew needed to be addressed and I couldn’t tackle those issues if I wasn’t nearby. I talked with my son and parents and listened to their feedback and then flew back to San Francisco to have the same conversation with my girlfriend. She knew I was mentally ready to return to New York, even if it meant a major change professionally.
When I first moved to San Francisco, I poured every bit of my heart and soul into building 95.7 The Game. There were many twists and turns and unexpected changes, but in the end we built a product that grew from 24th to 3rd in less than 4 years. That’s something I’m forever proud of and it can never be taken away from me or the crew that helped create it.
As I reflected on the previous four years, I felt like I had accomplished the goals I set for myself when I accepted the job. I had built a quality brand and earned the respect of my staff and executives inside the company and now it was time for the station to receive a new message and hopefully ascend to an even higher level. That challenge now belongs to Don Kollins and I know he’s excited about it.
One of my biggest coaching influences is Bill Parcells. If you look at his resume, most of his stints were between 3-5 years. He’d join an organization, build them up, lead them to success, and then move on. The Giants were the only organization where he had a lengthy stay. While Bill Cowher, Bill Belichick, and Tony Dungy preferred working in one location, Parcells gravitated towards change and new challenges.
That’s sort of the way I am. I’m not the type of person who’s going to spend 15-20 years in the same spot. At times, I wish I was. There’s great value in consistency and knowing what to expect but what can I say, I enjoy new challenges and learning from different people.
It’s crazy how certain periods of your career end up resurfacing at later points. I remember having a conversation with Steak Shapiro in St. Louis in 2007 when he co-owned Big League Broadcasting with Andrew Saltzman. Steak was upset with me because he learned that I was talking with another company about a possible Programming opportunity when KFNS was going through some turmoil.
Steak asked me “Do you want to be known as the Larry Brown of our business“? I answered “If that means winning an NBA Title in Detroit, going to the Finals in Philadelphia, leading teams in San Antonio, Los Angeles, Indiana, Denver and New Jersey to the playoffs, and winning a National Title in Kansas, then yes I’d love to be Larry Brown.”
He wanted to be pissed at me but he knew the response was pretty good and accurate and couldn’t help but laugh. He then reminded me that I better stay put! Which I did a while longer before we eventually went our separate ways.
When I returned to my office in San Francisco last year after the Christmas break, I had made up my mind and knew I had to alert the company. Hiring a Program Director takes time and I cared for the staff and wanted them to be in good hands. I made the choice to share the news with my bosses and they were gracious in the way they handled everything. I was asked to reconsider and take some time to make sure it’s what I truly wanted to do but I knew in my heart it was time to go home and be where my son needed me most.
Many of us in this industry bury ourselves in our work because it’s a highly competitive field. If you take your eye off the ball for a split second, someone else is right behind you ready to run you over. For nine years that approach helped me succeed, but what many of my colleagues didn’t see were the times that I had to share an upstairs bedroom at my parents house just to have a weekend with my son.
They didn’t realize that every other Thursday I’d spend 13-14 hours at work, take a 30 minute ride to the airport, wait an hour to board an overnight flight from California to New York which lasts more than 5 hours, follow it up by renting a car in New York and driving 2 hours north to my family’s home, possibly grabbing a quick 3 hour nap before driving over to pick my son up from school and spending 2 days with him before doing the same travel routine again on Sunday.
They also didn’t see the pain and tears in his eyes when I had to get back into a rental vehicle and drive away, or the numerous texts and phone calls begging me to come home. I loved every bit of the ride professionally but personally it was a struggle. Although I sacrificed more than most people would to stay involved in his life, it still wasn’t fair to a boy who had grown up wanting his Dad to be around every day and could care less about what he did for a living.
I contemplated whether or not I could see myself in San Francisco for 3-4 more years and the answer was an unequivocal no. When you do this job and oversee a company, you can’t do it on a year to year basis. You’re either all-in or all-out. There is no in between.
At this point, my son was thirteen, not four, which was how old he was when this travel schedule began. I wasn’t going to miss his teenage years and development into becoming a man. I couldn’t picture myself not being there when he drove a car for the first time or started his first job. Those things mattered more to me than anything I might accomplish inside a radio station.
When it was time to deal with my pending departure, we collaborated as a group, and made the decision to alert the staff and radio industry of the news in February. Getting the news out in advance was important for attracting great candidates but it was also mentally taxing on me. You can attempt to do things the way you’ve always done them, but when others know you’re dead man walking, and your future is elsewhere, it’s tough to be as sharp, passionate and emotionally connected as you once were.
Luckily I had enough things to keep me busy and a staff which understood my situation, but during that process I learned that providing a five month notice and announcing it publicly isn’t a great idea. It sounded good at the time and was helpful to the company, but it’s impossible to not have the cloud linger over you each day when you walk through your office. It also leaves people unsettled for a long period of time.
Mental challenges aside, I was happy and at peace with my decision, more so than I even thought I’d be. It’s easy to second guess yourself when you’re running a great sports radio station in Market #4, in a gorgeous city like San Francisco, working with quality people, for a company like Entercom who believe and invest in the format and treat you extremely well.
Combine that with the fact that I was moving to New York where fewer sports radio programming opportunities exist, and a possible career change or trip to the unemployment line seemed certain. Despite all of that, I had no regrets and was eager to face the unknown.
May 29th then arrived and the long wait was officially over. I said my goodbyes at the radio station, and went to my last Oakland Athletics game where I proudly wore my New York Yankees cap and jersey and didn’t have a care in the world if anyone was bothered by it. My girlfriend Stephanie and I then packed up our home that weekend, and set out on a cross country road trip to get to New York.
A word of advice, if you ever get the opportunity to make a coast to coast drive at any point in your life, do it! It’s well worth it. We traveled from San Francisco to Reno, Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah to Denver, Colorado to Keystone, South Dakota (drove out of the way to see Mount Rushmore) to Omaha, Nebraska to St. Louis, Missouri to Cleveland, Ohio to Niagra Falls, New York to home! It was a memorable trip which allowed me to unwind, have fun, and forget about what was in my rear view mirror.
Once we arrived home in New York, everything began to come together.
My son was elated to have me home and our bond has grown stronger since I returned. He now lives with me and is happy and healthy and I couldn’t be more happy than I am when we spend time together. That trumps every professional success I’ve had. We found a great place to live and decided after years of discussion to finally get a dog. Our English Bulldog “Trump” is awesome and the joy he’s brought to our lives has been greater than we ever anticipated.
After we got settled, I made a professional decision in August to start a new chapter for my career and explore a side of the industry I had been curious of but never had the nerve to pursue – consulting. I entered into it expecting it to be bumpy for a while and I had to remind myself to stay focused on the big picture, not the immediate returns. That’s easier said than done when you’re as competitive as I am and industry friends are constantly calling to find out when you’re going to return to work.
As I entered this space, I wanted to create a platform to showcase the format strongly. I was committed to writing, networking, and utilizing social media to promote great stories and I believed that if I executed well, new doors would open. Sure enough they have and that part has been exciting.
I’ve started forming new relationships and friendships but my friend and fellow consultant Rick Scott wasn’t kidding when he said this wouldn’t be easy. His support and wisdom helped me in my decision to head down this path, and my passion and stubbornness to succeed at it will serve me well entering 2016. I have a long ways to go but I’m committed to further building my brand and proving that my involvement pays dividends for those I do business with.
If there’s one part of the past year’s journey that has surprised me, it’s the way this website has grown and become a bigger priority. It began in June 2014 as a labor of love but I wasn’t producing content on a daily basis. Earlier in my career I wrote a lot but when you’re managing people and programming radio stations, it’s difficult to find time to put your words on a screen and showcase your creativity. This website grew organically and allowed me to reconnect with my creative side which has been personally and professionally rewarding.
In the past year alone, I’ve received compliments about the website from numerous industry people and when exceptional writers like Bernie Miklasz, Richard Deitsch, Ric Bucher and Jay Marriotti reach out and speak favorably about my writing, I’m blown away. Not only are they incredible at painting pictures with words, but they’ve also written for some of the most recognized and successful newspapers and publications in the world. If I can be 10% the writer that any of them are, that would be a huge victory.
Taking attendance inside a building may no longer be part of my routine, but my desire for radio has never been stronger. Because I have the opportunity to listen to shows all across the country and study trends and connect with people throughout the industry, I find myself more informed which helps when I’m creating content, talking with stations, and sharing my opinion.
Two things I’m appreciative of are that some of the work on this website has mattered enough to people in the industry that they’ve taken the time to share it with their peers. A few weeks ago I traveled to Philadelphia for the Army-Navy experience and to hear the first thing out of people’s mouth’s be some form of praise for this website and the way it has helped them was very uplifting.
I never imagined that my words would have an impact on people, so when I see someone retweet a column, send me a Facebook or Twitter message, or shoot me a text or email to share how a piece connected with them, it’s very gratifying. Many of the columns I create take hours to complete because I want to be thorough and present good information. I’m also my toughest critic. I don’t concern myself with the word count of a column or how many pieces per day I create, only the quality.
The other part which I’m proud of is that I’ve operated this website as a one-man band. There are no ghost writers, interns, or account executives selling advertising for it, just me. Managing this site while trying to build a business and enjoy my family can be tough at times but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s inspired me in ways I never expected it to.
First, I was fortunate to team up with Zach McCrite who has produced an excellent weekly podcast. If you haven’t listened to an episode yet, make a New Year’s resolution right now to change that in 2016.
Secondly, my friend and former colleague Andy Drake helped me design a great logo and cleaned up some of the bugs that were limiting the website’s potential. And last but not least, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with numerous industry folks who have written some thought provoking opinion pieces for the site which have helped them raise their own profiles while providing a perspective that’s been beneficial to others.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the numerous programmers, talent, market managers, executives, and owners who have helped me gain the right information so I could showcase the format’s brands and personalities in a fair and objective manner.
I don’t fancy myself as a media critic because I know how hard it is to build a successful brand, connect with an audience, and create an amazing show for 3-4 hours per day. I also understand how ratings and negotiations work. While my opinions may differ on occasion from a few of my peers, the intent on my end is to provide quality information and an informed opinion, not embarrass or trash any individual or company.
As fortunate as I’ve been to enjoy some early returns on this new endeavor, I’ve equally learned that there are a few misconceptions about the role of a consultant.
Believe it or not, I’m not looking to become the Adam Schefter of the sports radio world. Yes I have connections and relationships which help me gain access to critical information. I’m proud of that, enjoy it, and it’s one of the perks from spending two decades in this industry.
That said, I often sit on stories because I’m not interested in hurting someone’s livelihood or damaging a brand. No story and increase in web traffic is worth violating trust. Some may not like that I operate that way, and that’s fine, but I’m going to work the way that I feel most comfortable. If all that mattered was being first to report a story on this format, I’d have no problem doing well in that setting.
Next, I’m a consultant and talent resource, not an agent. I don’t negotiate talent contracts and I’m not going to lead your job search. If I know of things going on and believe there could be a fit, I’ll reach out and mention it. I’m not going to evaluate your past ten airchecks and give you weekly updates or tell every Programmer why you’re the next big thing. I’ll have dialogue with you, provide an honest assessment and pass along updates when I hear of things that may make sense for your career, but I have many masters to serve and can’t focus solely on the needs of an individual talent. If you do great work, and network with the right people, they’ll seek you out when the time is right.
Finally, contrary to what you may believe, a skilled consultant is not expensive. Many operators assume that bringing in an added resource is going to hurt their budget and that’s not accurate. Of course we don’t work for free but if your brand can gain larger success across multiple platforms and your people can improve from an investment in their development, isn’t that worth it?
If I can offer one piece of advice to industry folks as we enter 2016, make a resolution to network more with programmers and executives. If the only time they hear from you is when they have a job opening, they’re going to have little chance to learn anything about you beyond a resume and demo. There’s no excuse for not connecting when most people are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin. Get to know people, interact with them socially as you would with your friends, and when that connection is built and future needs arise, they’ll touch base if you fit the bill.
As far as improvements are concerned, we’ve got to do a much better job of telling our format’s story. I never realized how protective and nervous many in our industry get when discussing their performance. It was instilled in me years ago to be in control of my own message and to not be afraid to promote the truth when it benefitted those around me. I’ve tried sharing that advice with those I talk to. Some may view it as shameless self-promotion, others may feel it’s breaking some secret code of silence, but from where I sit, if you have a powerful story to share, then why wouldn’t you tell it?
One of radio’s biggest problems is the negativity it receives from outside media outlets. The damage that has been done to the industry’s image has led to stocks plummeting and millions of dollars being lost. We can blame everyone else for not reporting our successes, but if we don’t do our part to address misleading facts and highlight the people who make a huge impact in the lives of the audience each day, then we’re equally to blame.
Maybe I’m naive, but I’d rather sit in front of an advertiser or CEO and answer questions about my work based on the information they’ve read, rather than have to educate them on who I am, what I’ve done, and why I’m worth investing in. You can have the highest rated show, station, or the most innovative idea in the format’s history, but if nobody knows it beyond your own walls, then don’t be surprised when you don’t receive the credit you rightfully deserve.
To those who have shared information and opinions, and been willing to do their part to help increase the awareness of our format, I’d like to say thank you! This website only works if people contribute and take the time to read and learn from it. It’s been great learning from all of you and I hope you’ve gained some insight from me as well.
Working inside a radio station has been a huge part of my life for the past 20 years but in 2015 I discovered a new way to help the business I love. I now get to work with different stations, companies, and people, while creating content on my own platform, and with social media a huge influence and big part of our lives, it’s made it very easy to promote so others can gain from it.
One year ago I made a decision for my own personal benefit, and by doing so, it put me in position one year later to do something for the professional benefit of others. It may sound corny but that’s pretty cool to me. But still not as cool as waking up each morning and seeing my son’s face before he heads off to school.
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.