For the past twenty to thirty years, sports radio has been led by many of the same personalities. And for good reason. They’ve built powerful brands all across the country, delivering big ratings and large revenues.
But soon the sports format is going to undergo changes and be tested to provide personalities that can lead us through the next twenty to thirty years. I’m often asked is “Who’s the next Mike Francesa? Where are tomorrow’s superstars? Will Millennials want to work in sports radio in 5 years?”
The reason those questions can’t be answered are because it varies from market to market and programmer to programmer. Some believe it’s their responsibility to invest in the future and plan ahead, others are worried about winning today’s ratings battle and protecting their own position.
What gets lost in the shuffle is how disconnected from the future we are. There’s a limited focus placed on finding, developing, and promoting young talent. Maybe that’s not a grave concern at the moment, but when the format’s best personalities ride off into the sunset, and the day arrives when technology giants start exploring a move into the sports audio space, then what will radio do?
Radio may be well positioned as the in-car companion, and its transition to digital has drastically improved, but if exclusive sports content is offered on platforms like Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter, etc. it’ll create a big challenge for the radio industry. In the current economic climate, these companies have more money, a larger reach, stronger stockholder support, and the full attention of the advertiser community.
I raise this point because younger people today are growing up interested in consuming content and working for platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. The idea of working for a local newspaper or radio company is foreign to them. When I was young, options were limited, and the thought of being a radio personality or featured sports columnist seemed like the best job in the world. But today, media groups are launching everywhere on a daily basis, and as interest in the content increases in social and digital circles, so will the amount of career interest from younger candidates.
This is why radio can’t fall asleep at the wheel and needs to be committed to discovering new talent and making the industry cool and fun to younger people. Just the other day I was driving with my son, and when I turned on the radio, he said “Dad, do we have to listen to the radio?” I reminded him that this was my business, and one that he’s grown up around, and he said “I’m sorry Dad but my phone sounds better, doesn’t play all of those commercials, and more people interact on social media. Radio feels old to me.”
My son turns 14 this weekend so he’s not in the demo that sports radio courts to showcase its success, but if that view of radio continues over the next 10 years, it’s going to be harder to get people to listen, and even more difficult to lure them to work in the industry, especially when it pays considerably less.
That got me to thinking, what does a current radio professional who’s part of the millennial class think of the industry today? Is it fun? Is it a business that they see long-term growth and stability in? How do they feel about the coaching that’s provided and opportunities to develop?
Fortunately, Craig Hoffman was willing to share his point of view and I think it’s not only riveting, but it’s important for programmers, market managers, and corporate executives to pay attention to it. We can dismiss the way the youth perceive the industry and continue telling ourselves everything will stand the test of time like it always has, but eventually, the world does catch up. If we don’t make a more concerted effort on our part to bring young people to the party, it’ll only be a matter of time until the music stops playing and the lights go out.
Rather than take my word for it, here’s Craig’s column to give you something to think about.
A Millennial’s Open Letter To The Radio Industry by Craig Hoffman
The sports radio industry is in a very interesting place. It’s volatile. It’s rapidly changing. It’s very future seems up in the air.
At least that’s the way I see it.
Despite my youth, I’ve seen a lot in my career.
I’ve had my station bought out, costing me a boss that believed in me, coached me and made me better, not to mention many qualified co-workers that created a quality operation. I’ve seen superiors stretched just as thin as those of us in the studio, as they too have been given more responsibility while the hours in a day and their wages stay the same. I’ve been told “we’d love to hire you, but we just don’t have the money” more times than I can count.
That’s obviously left me with some worries about where we are and where we’re going as an industry, so when Jason asked for people to write guest columns I jumped at the opportunity to write about those things from my point of view. I’m a millennial. I’ve been in top 10 markets. It’s an odd juxtaposition that gives me a different view than so many in our business, and certainly those running it.
I want to stress that I would have wanted to write this piece whether I had a job or not. I’m looking to make you think, and maybe get some responses that quell my concerns. I certainly know I don’t have all the answers. I probably have barely any of them, but I’m hoping some of you do.
I love sports media. I’ve studied the industry since I was 18 years old and decided to get into it. I want us, as an industry, to succeed. I want us to put out a product we’re proud of. I want that product to make us money.
However chief amongst my fears about both our present and our future is that we’re trying to shortcut too many things. I know that’s ironic coming from a member of the instant gratification, “microwave generation.”
Microwaves are great. They’re efficient. They have a purpose. That purpose is not to create anything worth eating from scratch. Shouldn’t our business be something prepared and served with care, not instant eggs?
If we want the very best quality, we need the best ingredients and to use them properly, to treat them well.
Jason wrote earlier this week about coaching, and I agree with many of the points he made. The de-emphasis of coaching is something that terrifies me as a young talent. I’ve gotten a lot of coaching from some of the best and brightest in our industry, but nearly all of it I’ve had to seek out. As programmers are asked to do more, talent development seems to be the one thing that gets pushed to the side.
It’s not just the quantity of coaching that’s important though; it’s the quality. How we communicate evolves and changes generationally. Societally, there are certain words that we just don’t say anymore because we’ve realized that they’re harmful and hurtful to people. Some people push back and say that’s PC and represents the wussification of America. If you’re ready to puff out your chest as one of those people, why?
The first step to effective communication doesn’t change by generation. That is to realize that the correspondence is about the receiver, not the sender. It might be the sender’s message, but if the person or people receiving it don’t perceive it in the way the sender intended, the communication has failed. In radio terms, the message has to be tailored to the audience.
Mutual understanding doesn’t allow for the messenger to dictate the terms because the goal is mutual. So if you’re a programmer reading this and you’re “old school,” my generation probably thinks you’re an asshole, and you probably don’t care. You should.
I’m inclined work harder for a boss that I respect than a boss that I fear could lash out at me for a mistake. The only time fear effectively enters the equation is fear of letting that person I respect down. Learning how to work for any boss is part of being a professional. In the end, we all have jobs to do. However, if all you care about is me doing the job, then communicating in a beneficial way should interest you too, whether that’s in the form of coaching or day-to-day communication.
Is that the wussification of America? Some might say yes, but if you are let me ask you a question. Do you like being told you’re good at something? Or, if you’re not, being told that you’ve got potential? I’m pretty sure the answers yes. Who doesn’t?!
Being told you’re worthless, or, to not be as extreme, merely a pawn in the chess game might harbor resentment that results in a short term positive in the form of motivation. It’s also going to result in an “eff you” attitude that will prove you wrong and then leave you to be successful elsewhere. That isn’t generational. That’s human.
Part of this equation of effectiveness is also financial. When you hold an anchor position in a top 10 market and make the equivalent of what a board op in market 84 does, that can be frustrating. On one hand you’re grateful to hold a position and earn a living doing what you love, but on the other hand, you have bills to pay and a higher cost of living to contend with. When I arrived in DC and told people what my best year of income had been up to that point, they were appalled. Do you realize how hard it is to appall a radio person when it comes to salary? We’re all making less than we should be.
I may have been young, but my company determined I could do the job with the evidence being that they hired me. Should a company get to give the young guy the job and pay him an amount that someone his age “should” be earning?
Of course, because that’s how a free market economy works! It’s supply and demand and it’s exactly why, even though I was living paycheck to paycheck I never considered quitting. I decided it was worth it to make that sacrifice. However supply and demand when it comes to human resources completely ignores quality.
There may be an endless supply of people who want to be in this business, but that doesn’t mean they’re all capable of doing the job, especially at the highest levels.
There are so many people who want to talk about sports for a living for the obvious reason that it’s a pretty sweet gig. If I weren’t willing to do that job, someone else would have snatched it up in an instant.
It was my choice to determine that the job was far more important than the wage, just like it was the company’s job to determine that the risk of me going elsewhere was not worth paying me more. That’s part of growing up in any industry.
However, what makes me nervous is seeing so many talented friends drop out of the industry because at some point reality kicks in and you have to pay your bills. People also would like to have some semblance of a social life in their 20’s and by the back half of them, many are ready to get married and family becomes a consideration.
As the industry continues to shrink, this problem is only going to get worse. As syndication and automation continue to expand, there are fewer and fewer jobs, specifically on the entry level.
Overnights are no longer a training ground because they don’t exist. Now the best places to get reps are in bigger cities because they might actually run an operation that isn’t completely skin and bones, but even those shops are dwindling their numbers.
There’s nothing wrong with sacrifice early in your career. In fact, it should be expected. You give up something (the wage to live the life you want) to get something (the invaluable experience you need to get the job that will provide you that life).
My concern is that we’re asking people to sacrifice to the point of committing industrial suicide.
My concern is that in ten years we’ll have pushed so many people away and not developed our people enough that our quality will have dipped to a point that no one will want to consume it. Even if we take all the romance of the job and acknowledge the goal is to maximize profit, we’re going the wrong way.
So many companies are bleeding money, yet they all follow the same path. They cut. How many has it worked for?
Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing and expecting a different result?
Maybe I am just a young, dumb millennial. Actually, in this case, that’d be great!
Maybe our industry is in a much, much better place than it seems. I certainly haven’t been privy to the books. However, I have first hand experience with the consequences.
Maybe I’m just a kid with a warped sense of reality because of a somewhat unbelievable string of bad luck, but there seems to be more and more evidence every where I turn.
So why stick with it? Why, if all this stuff is so awful, do I want to go through another job-hunt and dive right back in as soon as I can?
Because I believe we can do better. We do this thing in sports where if we don’t have a perfect solution, we’d rather just not deal with the problem. “Why do we have instant replay if we can’t even get it right?!” That’s not the right question. The right question is “why can’t we get it right?”
There are so many smart people in key places that are capable of getting it right, and there are reinforcements with new ideas and new ways of thinking on the way.
In sports talk, we’re lucky to be in a format that can’t be 100% replaced by syndication and automation. Our product requires humans. We are our most valuable resources. I hope that in the very near future we return to treating them as such.
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.