Connect with us

Barrett Blogs

Product + Knowledge + Passion = Revenue

Jason Barrett

Published

on

In the radio business, there’s this constant struggle between what matters more – generating revenue, or delivering great programming. Clearly you need both to make a difference, but not all brands experience success in both areas.

Given my background in programming, I’m sure you’re going to be stunned to learn that I lean first towards providing quality programming. However, I’m not one of those people who turns a blind eye to sales, or minimizes the importance of being profitable. Anyone who’s occupied a conference room with me knows that I’m going to defend the integrity of the programming at all costs, but if I reject an idea, I’m likely to counter with “but here’s what I will consider”.

We can play the chicken or the egg game, but in life, listeners have a choice of whether or not to invest their time in a brand. They didn’t turn on your radio station, listen to your podcast, or watch your personality’s video, because they were looking for an advertiser message.

The client didn’t place their ad budget on your radio station because they were concerned with helping your company turn a profit. They did it because you have something of value to offer – access to people!

With that access comes the opportunity to place effective messaging in front of an audience by aligning the advertiser with things that the user considers cool (talent, features, play by play, etc.). But how are you supposed to take advantage of the power you yield, if you don’t fully grasp the vision of the product, and the reasons why it connects?

I’ve been fortunate to work with some great Market Managers during my career. Since entering into business for myself last August, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many more who truly understand the secret sauce of their radio stations. You can’t measure a brand’s success solely by ratings numbers, and you can’t make investments by only looking at expenses vs. revenue earned. If that were the case, this format wouldn’t have more than seven hundred stations operating in it.

One area today which is drawing larger industry concern is the product knowledge, and interest level, among market managers, and sales leaders. Some of that’s brought on by individual decisions, but most of it is the result of structure, pressure, and inexperience.

Selling sports isn’t easy. You have to use the emotion of a local team, the persona of an on-air talent, and the passion of the audience to create deeper interest. Ratings help, but for most sports radio brands, they’re not going to be the reason that local and national clients spend larger dollars on your station. If numbers are part of the decision making process, music stations will get more respect, because they perform better in the 6+ and Persons 25-54 demos, an area that only a handful of sports talkers do.

If you want to strike a chord with a buyer or client, you need evidence to make them look beyond the ratings sheet, especially if you have a competitor in your market.

Have you ever walked into a meeting with audio clips of your brand and your competitor, and let the client hear why it makes sense to invest more in your brand? If you want to draw an emotional response from the client or buyer, watch their reaction when they hear the way their business is presented. Few advertisers enjoy hearing their commercial run on your competitor’s station during an eight minute commercial break, let alone as the final unit.

You can point out the mistakes on your competitor, but when you do so, you better have your own house in order. The last thing you want to do is highlight how the brand you compete against treats a client, and then have the same issues occurring on your own radio station. If you can show a clear difference of the programming, and how a sponsorship works better on one brand than the other, they’ll give deeper thought to doing more business with you.

Here’s another idea. Have you ever taken a look on social media at the reaction of your audience when your on-air talent says something bold, or the station announces something big? The passion is off the charts, and the response can be overwhelming. I used to conduct quarterly Twitter chats when I programmed 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and there was never a shortage of activity.

When you can take that emotion, and large sample-size, and put it visually in front of people, the evidence stands out. It tells them that people care, and gives them incentive to want to tap into your audience. It’s even more magnified if a radio station carries a team’s games, or has a weekly call-in arrangement with a popular local athlete.

For example, I negotiated a deal with Buster Posey, and Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants years ago. Their call-in segments didn’t exactly set the content bar on fire, and their ratings were slightly higher than a few other quarter hours on the station. But, if you called a local advertiser in the Bay Area, and told them you were aligned with Posey and Cain during the Giants championship run, do you think there might have been interest? Of course there was.

When the two players met four contest winners prior to an A’s-Giants rivalry series, those listeners became fans of the radio station for life. If clients receive similar treatment, and are introduced to people that they view as heroes, and see as being a part of something that matters to them personally, they pony up to be connected to it.

Understanding what goes into selling sports radio is more important than ever, and the reality is that many markets feature staffs that have grown up in radio, and are trained on selling spots and dots. They don’t necessarily share an enthusiasm for the programming, and they look at digital and social media sales the way kids today view common core.

To be fair, it’s really difficult to sell all of these things, and be extraordinary at it. It’s even harder when stations have lean sales teams with big revenue expectations.

If sports is a local/direct sell, and your sports station is operating in a top 20 market with three or four sellers, and a group of other reps who are focused on selling other formats but lack an emotional attachment to the brand, you’re going to miss the mark. I don’t believe that every salesperson has to love sports to sell it, but, if they don’t know and love the radio station, the on-air talent, the way the brand connects with the audience, or understand why it’s special, good luck being profitable.

It’s also necessary to have a solid grasp on the assets you have at your disposal. Some programmers prefer to put it on a grid, some lack attention to detail which can make it tough for a seller to navigate thru, and others do neither because they’ll put anything on the air that sales asks of them (even if it weakens the brand) just to gain a client’s business.

In each scenario, success is possible, but I believe you help your own case by making it easier for everyone to follow. Here’s an example of how to lay things out for your sellers. It’s an edited version of an old features booklet I created in 2011 in San Francisco.

In it you’ll find the details of how each feature works, what day/time they occur, and what each sponsorship requirement is. This is helpful to sales teams who are trying to create Powerpoint presentations to place in front of potential clients, and it’s a great way for them to be reminded of how the brand operates, without having to constantly bang on the programmer’s door to get their questions answered.

The original booklet I created had other elements in it, including Raiders play by play, weekly call-ins during football, baseball, and basketball season, digital media opportunities, and something I refer to as “Beachfront Property”. Those assets are the biggest on the radio station. Everything from owning the name of the studio, to sponsoring the phone or text line, to being the featured sponsor of the station’s largest events and promotions.

If you’re charged with managing a sales team, and they have all of those assets to sell, in addition to commercials, web banners, Facebook mentions, and lord knows what else, is it realistic to expect them all to be monetized? I’ll help you answer this one, the answer is no.

Chances are, most of the sales team won’t remember half of the assets on the station because they’re under the gun already trying to sell out commercial inventory. If a station runs twelve to sixteen minutes of commercials each hour, and there are thirteen prime-time hours (M-F 6a-7p), and eighteen weekday hours (M-F 6a-Mid), that means they need to sell between 150-300 spots per day. That’s assuming they’re all :60 seconds in length, which they won’t be.

When you factor in :30 second spots, which are the usual length of most radio commercials, plus :10s and :15s, now that inventory number jumps even higher. And I haven’t even talked about digital, mobile, and social assets, promotions, local and national play by play, big station events, or advertiser demands to create specific opportunities.

The reality is that the radio station’s assets will likely never be fully monetized, and reducing them probably makes more sense. But, the second you tell a sales team that an opportunity is no longer available, all hell breaks loose.

Equally important is for the programming team to understand that just because a feature isn’t sold, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If it is sold, that also doesn’t mean you deserve an increase in pay. In many cases, the sponsor is given the feature sponsorship as a bonus, to close a bigger inventory deal on the radio station.

This all brings me back to my point about the lack of understanding and interest in sales leaders towards the product, its assets, and the unique qualities that make a radio station great. You can’t take advantage of opportunities if you don’t know how they work. If your focus is on making sure your sellers hit their revenue numbers, and move every unit of commercial inventory, that’s understandable. However, there’s likely going to be less focus placed on product integration, digital/social/mobile assets, and training people which means at some point you’re going to come up short somewhere.

We realize the business world is shifting to the digital space. Just last week ESPN went on offense to try and slow down providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Why? Because they see their power reducing, and they know the money is heading in that direction.

Have you seen how Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple are performing? Google has grown 17% year to year in Q1, raking in over twenty billion dollars. Twitter is up 36% year to year while generating nearly six hundred million dollars. Facebook has climbed 52% year to year, while turning in more than five billion in the first quarter. Apple has grown by 2% year to year, en route to generating over seventy five billion dollars in the first quarter.

There’s a specific reason why I listed those companies. Three have been in existence for less than twenty years, and one experienced modest success in the 1980’s before falling on hard times. Its resurgence has taken place during the last two decades! Google entered the digital world in 1998, Facebook was born in 2004, and Twitter arrived in 2006. Apple was launched in 1976, but most view 1997-2016 as the time when it’s truly become one of the world’s most dominant companies.

How on earth is it possible that these companies which have enjoyed massive success for only two decades, could overtake the entire radio, print, and television industry for advertising revenue? The media business we grew up in has over a half of a century to put itself in position to be untouchable, yet here we are in 2016, and we’re all using these three platforms to help promote and grow our own businesses. Some would even say that without them we’d be in trouble at reaching our audiences.

Am I not the only one scratching my head, and wondering how that could be possible? Not only did they start their own companies, but they created an entire new media space too. We’ve had access to a megaphone, and a relationship with the auto industry which has given us great accessibility to people, but still couldn’t figure out how to grow revenue the way each of these groups have.

Here’s another scary fact that addresses one of radio’s bigger issues – each of those businesses have been built by someone who bled product first. That’s not always the case in radio.

Before Mark Zuckerberg started worrying about stock prices, and quarterly earnings reports, he was a programmer. He cared first about creating a product that mattered to people, before learning how to become a successful businessman. Here he stands now at 31 years old, listed as one of the top 100 wealthiest people on the planet. He figured out how to give a speech, excite investors, and cut deals with business leaders, but not before understanding every aspect of what made Facebook important.

Apple, was founded by Steve Jobs, who was an inventor with a large focus on product development. Before he spent his energies trying to sell a room full of people on the power of the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and iTunes, he concentrated on making great products that he thought people would use. Once he had a great product to offer, he learned how to market it, sell it, and become the face of the company.

At Twitter, Jack Dorsey led a group of four in bringing the social media network to life. He was a programmer, with a passion for innovation, and that enthusiasm for creating technology has earned him world wide praise. He sits currently in the CEO position, and is tasked with growing the business moving forward. Who better to explain why Twitter matters, and how it can be used to grow a business than the guy who helped create it?

For Google, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page were computer scientists who met at Stanford, and spent all their time in dorm rooms tearing thru computer equipment, and testing out different concepts in order to create the world’s most powerful search engine. By investing their time in developing an idea that they felt could change the world, they did, and in the process became two of the top 20 richest people in the United States.

Teaching someone how to create powerpoints, discuss ROI, lead a meeting, and operate a budget isn’t difficult. But, knowing a brand, creating a vision, selling its value, and producing the right strategy will take you further. Certain leadership skills can be taught, but if your laptop crashes, and it’s just you and the advertiser face to face, can you look them in the eye and make them believe in what you have to offer?

Natural born leaders are built to perform in front of anyone. They can sell their beliefs to any audience because it’s part of who they are. They live and breath their products, and don’t need a phony story, or fancy powerpoint presentation to convince people to invest with them.

I can’t explain why radio programmers don’t warrant deeper consideration to run companies or clusters. If you have the answer, please let me know. Dan Mason had a strong background in programming, and did very well operating CBS Radio. Bruce Gilbert had a great track record when he joined ESPN Radio, and his results at the network speak for themselves. I’m sure there are others out there who can make the same difference.

The point of this isn’t to lessen sales leaders, or suggest that programmers should run the world. It’s to explain the importance of connecting with your products, and understanding why they matter. We can’t operate in a silo, and expect one-trick ponies to be dynamic across multiple platforms. It’s just not realistic.

Today, we expect air talent to be skilled at hosting a radio show, writing a blog, interacting on social media, creating video, and being an advocate for advertisers, so it’s only fair that our revenue generators be proficient at maximizing on-air, online, and on-social sales. Before they can be successful in any of those areas though, they’ve got to familiarize themselves with the assets on their brands, and know why each is special to the audience.

Facebook, Google, Apple, and Twitter took over the media world, and changed the revenue game in less than twenty years. Others will do the same during the next two decades. If we want to avoid becoming the new age dinosaur, we’ve got to excel at creating unique and powerful content that connects with an audience, distributing it across multiple platforms, and having well rounded business leaders who understand how to maximize the assets. Without it, we might as well borrow ESPN’s ad campaign against streaming providers and pray that it works.

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

Jason Barrett

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.