As a kid, I used to read the New York Daily News, and New York Post. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about my local sports teams from the media members who covered them, and I trusted the information they provided. When a columnist wrote an opinion piece it was clear that it was subjective, and I was able to form my own thoughts based on what I had read.
When I turned on the television, sports anchors like Warner Wolf, Len Berman, Scott Clark, Russ Salzberg, and Sal Marciano, made local sports fun, and informational. Although they each had their own style, and preferences, they relied on the facts to help tell each night’s stories.
Granted, back then things were a lot simpler. There was no internet, social media, a flood of sports radio stations, and the world wasn’t as cynical, and reactionary as it’s become today. We relied on the newspaper, watched the nightly sportscasts, and we trusted the people who reported the news to us.
Maybe I was naive, and things were worse than I knew, but in the 1980’s the broadcasters, and reporters that I supported, didn’t make themselves the story. Instead that honor was reserved for the individuals involved in the games. The focus was placed on what transpired between the lines, rather than what occurred outside of them. Sure there were players who weren’t warm and fuzzy, but the relationship between the media and athletes was cordial. More importantly, the public’s trust in the media was higher.
The inspiration I drew from those sportscasters, and writers, along with the local personalities I listened to on WFAN, led me to pursue a career in broadcasting in 1996. I loved sports, and the passion people felt for them, and the thought of telling a story, and talking about it with an audience, seemed like the greatest job on the planet.
Who wouldn’t want to attend sporting events, form relationships with athletes, coaches, and executives, and report the information back to listeners? I looked forward to attending games, talking to people, and sharing what I learned. I never considered twisting the words of the people I covered, or letting my personal feelings get in the way of the truth. I considered it a responsibility to be factual, and I didn’t feel it was right to manufacture drama.
During my early years, I saw the media change right before my very eyes. I stood at a locker next to Bobby Bonilla when he was with the New York Mets, and famously told a reporter “make your move”. I watched Bill Parcells berate broadcasters who tried to lecture him how he should’ve coached against the Seahawks when he was running the New York Jets. I even witnessed Michael Strahan lose his cool when media members attempted to bait him into saying things to create bigger headlines for upcoming rivalry games.
As these moments unfolded, I sat there wondering why these media members sought to provoke and create additional issues. It wasn’t their job to draw Bonilla, Parcells or Strahan into a fight. They were supposed to be there to ask questions, and report the facts.
The great Walter Kronkite once said “our job is only to hold up the mirror – to tell and show the public what has happened”. But as I discovered, sometimes the truth just isn’t sexy enough.
Without drama, what will the front page of next day’s newspaper say? Will people want to watch a sportscast without some form of controversy? Are people going to call a sports radio station if something doesn’t stir their emotions?
This is the formula that helped make ‘First Take’ successful. It’s why the public gets overloaded with Barry Bonds, Brett Favre, Tim Tebow, and Johnny Manziel stories. We bitch and complain about negativity and controversy, yet stop to watch the car crash. It’s why we flocked to a Mike Tyson fight, but failed to give our full respect to Evander Holyfield who kept doing things the right, and honest way.
While those days in the 90’s were certainly different than what I had experienced in the 80’s, I can’t help but feel like many parts of the media business today are even worse. That’s not to suggest that errors and agendas didn’t occur in the past, but today’s influx of media outlets and the audience’s quest to control situations have led to many more mistakes, irresponsible reports, and agendas aimed to satisfy personal beliefs.
To gain access in the past, you had to work for an established media company, and possess the qualifications necessary to be placed in an important setting. Now press passes are given out like candy on halloween to children. Everyone fancies themselves as a talk show host, and due to the advancement of technology, they are. The launch of a podcast, YouTube page, or website makes you a part of the media machine.
Some of these things are excellent. I love that interest in broadcasting and writing has grown. Audiences deserve to have content options. But somewhere along the line, we became more enamored with being first than being right. Generating web traffic, and social media response, now matters more than presenting stories fairly. Relationships with athletes, coaches, and team executives are quickly fractured because there are media members who won’t hesitate to embarrass someone if it helps them gain favor with their bosses. For each person who treats someone fairly, there are others who don’t. As a result, trust is difficult to gain.
Because agendas have gotten in the way of the information, it’s led athletes to break news on their own social media platforms, websites, or places such as “The Player’s Tribune“. This allows the athlete to tell their side of the story in a safer environment, and while that may annoy various members of the media, it’s partly our own fault.
Last week I read a piece on “The Undefeated” titled “36 Hours in Beast Mode“. Lonnae O’Neal was the reporter. She spent time in Oakland, with Marshawn Lynch and members of his inner circle. Lynch, who’s notorious for saying very little, wasn’t eager to be cooperative because he’d been burned by the media before. If he couldn’t trust O’Neal to present his story fairly, and honestly, why speak at all?
Lynch’s cousin, Quarterback Josh Johnson told O’Neal, “The problem with the media is that you’ve got someone telling your story who doesn’t know you, or where you’re from, or what you’ve been through. On top of that, the story is already written. They just want a couple of quotes to confirm what they want to put out there. It’s a created perception. And the media doesn’t have to live with that perception, we have to live with that perception. It affects our family and friends, the community, and our ability to make money going forward. You flew in here to exploit this story, and now you’re going to go back, where editors can twist our words and faces, and turn them into something unrecognizable. And he’s (Marshawn) not having it”.
As I read those quotes, I couldn’t help but find myself agreeing with him. The reason so much mistrust is in place is because few care about the individual they’re reporting on, only the information they can provide. If a quote can be squeezed out of Lynch to say something negative about Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, the Seahawks, or Roger Goodell, it’s media gold.
That’s exactly what Al Jazeera and Shaun King of the New York Daily News did to assassinate the character of Peyton Manning. Was the future Hall of Fame Quarterback completely innocent of what he was accused of? Who knows. But why was the story coming up in the first place? It was more than twenty years old.
Secondly, why wasn’t Manning’s side of the story told? Where was the research into the backgrounds of the individuals claiming he had done something wrong? It wasn’t hard to uncover. BSN Media discovered it.
When someone is successful in sports, and relatively clean throughout the majority of their career, many media people are cynical. They’ve been burned before by famous athletes, so they see it as a personal challenge to dig up dirt to knock an individual down. The second they have one small ounce of information, they present it irresponsibly, and with malice and bias.
When these stories come out, public opinion usually sways in favor of the report. That’s terrifying, because it goes against what our society tells us – that we’re innocent until proven guilty. Those words were true when I was growing up, but now people find themselves guilty until proven innocent.
It’s even worse for a professional athlete. If they get accused of something, and don’t sue, the speculation increases immediately. I can recall being in St. Louis when the Mitchell Report came out, and media outlets rushed to judgment on Albert Pujols. Customers at his restaurant were harassed, and the good name he had built as a solid member of the community was stained immediately.
What did Pujols gain when it was discovered that his name wasn’t on the report? An apology? Nope. His big win was banning one local television station from attending his news conference. Doesn’t exactly seem like a fair trade does it?
How about the Duke lacrosse case. Remember that? If you don’t, watch the “30 For 30” on it on ESPN. It’s brilliant.
The public formed quick opinions on the case due to the way the story was presented by the media. The families involved endured public humiliation, and emotional pain, Duke’s head coach was fired, and the three accused men had their reputations permanently damaged.
We later learned that no evidence existed to find any of the men guilty, and a corrupt district attorney seeking re-election, money, and fame, attempted to use the case as a springboard for his professional career. Had numerous members of the media stuck to reporting the facts rather than attempting to be the judge, jury, and executioner, they wouldn’t have been left to eat a healthy heaping of crow.
I’m trying to come to grips with why members of our industry adopt this practice. Why is it that the information is not enough, and we feel a responsibility to tamper with evidence? What happened to allowing the public to form an opinion based on what we know? Are we so thin-skinned that we can’t stomach the thought that the public won’t agree with our point of view?
Here’s another example. The Washington Post conducted a poll to find out how offended Native Americans were by the Washington Redskins team name. In the poll, nine out of ten said they weren’t bothered. The results were similar to a previous study done in 2004.
Why was this a story in the first place? Were Native Americans beating down the doors of the press demanding justice? The team name had been acceptable for the past eighty years, so what changed that made it a larger mainstream issue?
The answer – the media and government. It didn’t matter that the franchise had built its entire image, history, and business around the name for eight decades, or that the majority of Native Americans weren’t offended. Media people and politicians took exception, so they decided to try and flex their muscles and influence the result, rather than report the facts.
Except, it never was their fight in the first place. It wasn’t their job to tell Native Americans how to think or feel or Dan Snyder how to run his business. Other NFL teams, television announcers, analysts, and reporters even started referring to the Redskins as “Washington” on team schedules, and national broadcasts. Did the viewing public request that? Did the team apply for a name change? The answer is no.
We don’t have to agree with it, and we can express our views that we believe things should be done differently, but we don’t make the rules, set the laws, and decide how others consuming our work should feel. It’s our job to present the information, offer both sides, explain where we stand, and let the public figure out how they feel about the issue.
Just last week, the New York Times did a hit piece on Donald Trump because they don’t think he should be our next President. They crafted a story and used quotes from a woman he previously dated (Rowanne Brewer Lane) to present an image of Trump behaving poorly towards women.
Except, Rowanne Brewer Lane quickly took to the television airwaves of MSNBC, and Fox News, and proceeded to destroy the Times for attempting a smear campaign. She mentioned how well Trump had treated her, and how the Times took her words and edited and twisted them to present the narrative that they wanted.
If a Times columnist writes an opinion piece taking Trump to task, that’s acceptable. A columnist is paid to present their opinions. They are essentially the written version of a talk show host. The reader consumes the material that they present, knowing that it’s one person’s point of view. But when news stories are reported, the public expects them to be factual, not altered to support the newspaper editor’s personal preference.
One week prior, a former Facebook employee pointed out how the social media company uses editorial judgment to decide what news you receive in your trending topics. While that may not seem like a huge deal, when the majority of the information provided represents only one side of a story to billions of people, that’s not presenting an even playing field.
If Mark Zuckerberg and his company choose to vote, and live their lives under democratic guidelines, that’s ok. They have that right as Americans. But to attempt to influence thought, belief, and opinion of the public by showcasing only one side of the news, rather than allow them to form their own judgments after seeing both, is wrong.
To Zuckerberg’s credit, he responded quickly, and met with conservatives, and acknowledged that Facebook has to do better. This isn’t about politics, and whether or not republicans or democrats are better, it’s about being fair, balanced, factual, and letting the public decide for themselves.
Media outlets operate like they’re in the middle of a war zone, and social media platforms have become the new battleground. The minute something happens, people rush to Facebook, and Twitter to express their views. What’s frightening is to see how many individuals, and companies overreact due to negative feedback.
Not every situation is defensible. I recognize that there are times where you have to cut bait or punish someone for poor judgment. However, not every situation warrants that. It takes courage to stand by someone during difficult times. But, if you believe they’ve done nothing wrong, be prepared to have their back, even when others might not.
The general public, and professional athletes, coaches, and executives, have become less trusting of the media because of agenda driven reporting. When information is withheld, words are twisted, and judgments are rushed, it’s hard to put faith in reporters.
That’s not what our business is supposed to be about. When you cover a team, athlete, executive, or event, the story can be told by keeping your eyes and ears open, and gathering facts. Your job is to share what you’ve uncovered, and let the audience decide what to think about it.
It may not always be fancy, or create an avalanche of social media activity, but you can’t put a price on sleeping with a clear conscience. Some would rather take a shortcut and advance their career at the expense of those they cover. I believe you can enjoy the same success by earning their trust and respect. In doing so, you may even improve the image and reputation of an industry that few have confidence in.
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.