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Content Creation In The Social Space

Jason Barrett

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I’ve written numerous times about the power of social media and its importance in the sports radio industry. Simply put, it’s where your audience lives, and you can’t afford not to be present in it. Yet some brands still go hours, or even worse days, not promoting their content.

My theory has always been, that inside of each radio station’s social media pages lies a couple of listeners who carry meters. If a brand I’m managing has been granted permission by thousands of people to notify them of on-air developments, and it can help advance my ratings, then why wouldn’t I take advantage of it?

Aside from the obvious of being socially active and present, there remains the question of how to be unique, and use each platform to its full potential. I see it time and time again, stations fall in love with Twitter because messages can be written quickly. Except they sometimes do it at the expense of Facebook. Instead of being strong in both locations, they feel like they have to make a choice. That often results in picking the platform that identifies with their personal interests, and saves them the most time.

That’s a mistake in my opinion. You can’t assume that everyone does what you do. People enjoy being entertained differently. For some, Twitter consumes their life. For others, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Google+ or Pinterest might be their social preference. While I realize challenges exist with being exceptional in every one of these locations, there’s no excuse for not being present and engaged in at least a few of them.

Creating great content is what every host and producer aspires to achieve when they enter a studio each day. They put countless hours into developing topics, researching stories, and laying out a game plan for the show, hoping it will resonate with a local audience. I don’t want to minimize how important it is to create a quality program, but if you lack a distribution strategy to further expose your content afterwards, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to realize the true value of your material.

The audience today listens on their time not ours. You may host a three or four hour talk show on-air, but if people are unavailable to listen, you’ve still got an opportunity to reach them later. You might feature your interviews individually, post each full hour of your talk show without commercials, and even offer quick snippets of your most powerful material all on your website. When the audience enjoys what you do, and have those type of options available to consider, they usually return to hear what they missed.

Assuming the digital offerings are laid out well, then comes promoting it on your brand’s social pages. On Twitter you’ll have to be short and succinct with your messages, whereas Facebook will let you be as wordy as you want. You might use photos or create graphics with text to help deliver more clicks, or feature bold headlines, and open ended questions to peak curiosity. Whichever path you take, the reality is that your approach to using social media to highlight your content will factor heavily into the way your program is received.

If time is something you’re pressed for, and you’re struggling with promoting your work across all of these social media platforms, familiarize yourself with Hootsuite. It allows you to schedule messages in advance, and reach multiple locations at once. It’s a tool I use daily and I can’t recommend it enough.

To expand further on this subject I called on Michael Grey who most recently hosted morning drive on WBBL in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to his time in Grand Rapids, he’s worked for 710 ESPN in Seattle, and AM 590 ESPN in Omaha.

Michael raises some very interesting points about this topic, and I think that as you read his thoughts, you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement with most of it. A strong social distribution strategy, and intimate knowledge of how to best use each platform is necessary to win in today’s radio climate. Obstacles will never fully disappear, but your level of success, and importance to the audience will, if you don’t take this seriously.

Content Creation In The Social Space by Michael Grey

“The Medium is the Message.” – Marshall McLuhan

The words of McLuhan – mandatory reading for anyone in broadcasting – ring true today, though with the necessary adjustment “The Mediums are the Message”.

If you’ve been in radio for more than a moment you’ve undoubtedly heard of “topic trees” or “show maps” or any of a number of other catchphrases for the development of layered talk topics. However, how many of us have considered the additional layers of content that the ever evolving social space requires us to create? How will your show content look when laying out a show plan? What is the video component to today’s hottest show topic? How would your big story this morning represent in a single photograph? How much of your radio show is going to happen – live – in the hours before or after your show airs?

The question of how, or worse whether or not, to integrate social media into a radio show in 2016 is misguided and out of step with reality. The question should be how are you going to integrate your radio show into the social space where everyone else is already broadcasting?

Creating compelling talk content is just part of the job and we all bear the responsibility to not just represent but develop topics in a full 360 degree multi-platform manner. Not only do you owe the audience the effort, but these different mediums and platforms are yours for the branding which makes them personal and portable. Jobs will come and go, but your ability to deliver content across a range of platforms is something you take with you, and is a powerful asset in your climb through the industry. These social spaces, all too often used by those in radio for simple cookie-cutter promotion, should themselves be a part of everything you create.

Social Media experts have said for years that the different platforms each require a unique approach in terms of content production and presentation just like the topics on your show. The natural progression is to view your radio show as one wing of your own personal media company and to develop your show and your topics with unique content and angles for each of the platforms available. This invites almost infinite possibilities when developing programming as it is no longer limited to the studio or the audio realm. After all, what is the most important thing that any of us can provide to sports fans today? Access. The audience has become increasingly accustomed to on-demand access to their favorite content, opinions, commentary, teams, players, coaches and yes, the voices & faces they seek out to get that content.

For example, Facebook Live now makes it possible (mandatory) to host a daily post-show show and invite comments and input from the audience that already follows you in a personal and unique way. It’s also a way to grant last-minute, breaking-news access to your show when your team trades it’s starting quarterback 3 hours after it aired. With the state of the news cycle, if you wait until tomorrow to start the conversation you will always be discussing yesterday’s news. A video component to what you’re doing on a daily basis, whether it’s behind-the-scenes coverage or additional programming is a must. It is a prism that shouldn’t just reflect the audio content of the show but guide it and be embraced on its own merits as well.

Video, while incredibly powerful, is just one example of course and every social media platform has its strengths & weaknesses and should be used to accent various aspects of your content and show – just as a topic tree defines the various levels of story development.

Twitter serves the instant gratification crowd & is an excellent tool for reaction & commentary in the moment. Are your producers constantly at the wheel of your show Twitter account for the ‘Wow’ moments throughout the program? They should be. The individual Tweets may capture spontaneity but discipline in using the platform to ensure that they’re captured should be anything but. It’s a powerful in-the-moment lure to bring people to the table.

Can you catch a moment in a photo from your everyday life and grow that into a topic for the next day’s show? That’s Instagram and the exploding world of Snapchat (10 BILLION videos posted as of April). A chance for people to get a peek at your world in a first person perspective is yet another level of connection and – more importantly – a way to develop unique aspects of the day’s biggest stories to extend the conversation.

Each unique platform needs to be used to generate content and your brand development in unique ways (a point missed all too often in radio with one-size-fits-all, e-blast style posts about the “radio” portion of the product line). Social Media has made it not just possible but imperative to take anything you present on your radio show into these spaces and to further develop everything that you do accordingly. Used correctly you will not only satisfy an audience increasingly granted access from every possible angle but retrain your own mind about the development of your product & brand in the process.

Everything that we do on the air or in the digital space comes with the ability and responsibility to develop tactics & topics unique to all of these platforms in creating a complete product.

So what does tomorrow’s show look like?

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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Barrett Blogs

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrett Blogs

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it worked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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