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The Challenge of Covering Sports in 2016

Jason Barrett

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This week it was Richard Sherman. Last week it was DeMarcus Cousins. Prior to that, Jeff Fisher, Colin Kaepernick, Donald Trump and others found ways to deflect criticism, and blame the media for the difficult positions they placed themselves in.

Which raises a few questions.

Is the media not supposed to hold high profile people accountable? Are an individual’s words and actions not fair game to scrutinize, especially when they create a distraction or potential threat to their organization? Does the paying public not deserve answers from the local athletes and teams they spend their hard earned money supporting?

In 2016, the media is under a microscope more than ever. At times it’s justified, but not always.

Industry professionals are operating during a time where sensitivity has swept the nation by storm, and the media blame game gets introduced whenever a challenging situation arises.

If you missed it, Sherman threatened the career of longtime Seattle reporter and on-air host Jim Moore after he didn’t take kindly to Moore’s line of questioning. Rather than ignoring the question or providing a bland response, Sherman let it become personal.

To his credit, he’s since backtracked and acknowledged regret for making a mistake. But it’s difficult to buy that he’s accepted any wrongdoing because this isn’t the first time Sherman has had a dustup with a member of the media. In fact, it’s happened on a number of occasions.

But let’s forget about Sherman for a minute, and take a closer look at DeMarcus Cousins. The star forward of the Sacramento Kings jabbed a finger into the face of Sacramento Bee writer Andy Furillo after being angry over a piece that was published in the newspaper. He also has a history of refusing to answer questions from beat reporters whenever a member of the media is present who has written an unflattering story about him that he doesn’t appreciate.

After the incident, Cousins apologized and was docked fifty thousand dollars by the Kings. He issued a statement which said, “There is a time, place and manner to say everything, and I chose the wrong ones. Like most people, I am fiercely protective of my friends and family, and I let my emotions get the best of me in this situation. I understand my actions were inexcusable and I commit to upholding the professional standards of the Kings and the NBA. I apologize to my teammates, fans and the Kings organization for my behavior and the ensuing distraction and look forward to moving on and focusing on basketball.

Maybe I’m being cynical, but that statement looks like it came from a public relations official, not Cousins. If he truly felt he made a mistake, and wanted to repair the damage, Cousins should’ve sought out Furillo to express his remorse man to man. That’s how respect is regained, and it puts an unfortunate incident for both men in the rear view mirror.

Instead, the only media attention that has come Cousins way during the past week has been about whether or not he’s too thin skinned to handle the heat in a larger market, and if he’s worth the headache and huge price tag.

When a player’s resume details a history full of explosions against the media, it stays with them. If Cousins wants to earn the benefit of the doubt from those who cover him on a regular basis, he has to give them the same courtesy in return. That’s something he’s yet to do.

So if trust is shattered, and a lack of respect exists between the media and the athletes, coaches, and executives that they cover, how do we make it better?

For starters, I don’t believe change is created by one specific act or individual. It takes a series of events, and communication on both sides to create a better working relationship. A little bit of respect, understanding, and compromise wouldn’t hurt either.

Professional and collegiate athletes, coaches, and executives need to remember why media members occupy space inside their buildings. In a nutshell, coverage of a team fuels public interest. That leads to increased ticket sales, merchandise sales, a spike in the ratings for the club’s radio and television partners, and support of the franchise’s business partners.

The athlete or coach may not necessarily view the media’s role in this way, but their presence and consistent content delivery on the franchise’s key storylines plays a huge part in the franchise’s financial success. If you don’t believe the media has that type of influence, I dare one professional franchise to hold a game in their stadium with no radio, television, or digital coverage involved.

While the disrespect for the media can be frustrating at times to those who work in the industry, it’s naive to think that this issue is a one way street. There’s plenty of blame to go around on our side as well.

During the past decade, the expansion of the industry has created a ripple effect. Much of it due to the growing influence of digital and social media. When locker rooms were filled with 10-20 media members, mistakes were marginal, and agendas were easier to pinpoint. Now with hundreds of outlets invading locker rooms, providing similar content, and rushing to be first on every story, the quality in coverage has slipped.

Another factor to take into account is that in each city there are many individuals attending games, practices, and press conferences who don’t invest the time in fostering relationships with the teams and people they cover. The focus on quality reporting takes a backseat to sensationalism because it leads to more clicks, views and tune ins.

We’ve also seen a growing number of media folks entering team facilities unprepared, untrained, and with hidden agendas. They arrive on site in search of a soundbyte to fit their story, rather than telling the one that’s been provided. Others may even use their positions to demonstrate to the team and its players who they are and why they need to be given preferential treatment from the rest of their peers. This is the type of nonsense that leads to certain players with hall of fame resumes, not receiving votes for the hall of fame after their career is done.

On a few occasions, I’ve turned on the television to watch sports programming, only to find a personality or two buying into their own hype, and using their platforms to step over the line and get personal. It’s fine if a broadcaster and athlete have differing opinions on a performance related subject, but when commentaries tuns personal, respect for one another goes out the window, and without that, you can’t move a conversation forward.

As a rule, I’ve consistently preached the importance of providing strong candid opinions on the performance of a team or individual. That’s fair game in my book. We cover sports and the people who play them, and if someone has a bad game or commits an act that hurts the team, that coach or individual needs to be thick skinned enough to handle a series of tough questions. They don’t have to like the way we ask our questions or the subject matter we’re asking about, but they owe it to their league and organization, and the fans who support them to face the music. It’s part of the job responsibility that they accept when they sign a contract to play professional sports.

I also believe the media has a right to question athletes, coaches, executives or owners when the decisions they make outside the lines have a carryover effect on their organizations. Whether it’s Michael Floyd’s DUI arrest, Aaron Hernandez being linked to a murder, or Colin Kaepernick’s choice to kneel instead of standing up for the national anthem, if an individual creates headlines for the wrong reasons, the media has the right to ask questions about it. We can’t control their answers, but questions do need to be asked.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umYJjZuUY9Q

It may sound simple and cliche, but respect for each other and the jobs we do, goes a long way towards preventing ill will. In the current climate of our society, many athletes, coaches, and executives have this perception that the media are in their buildings to uncover dirt and make them look bad. That’s not how the majority of reporters, and hosts operate. They also feel that if they form a business relationship with the media member’s organization, that they’re entitled to a different set of rules which is not the case.

Those who earn the privilege of covering a team can also do a better job of building trust with the people they cover. When solid relationships are established, it leads to more give and take from both sides. It also leads to receiving more information which helps you do your job better.

However, the individuals who represent professional franchise’s also need to realize that they don’t decide what gets reported. If they want to avoid creating distractions or headlines which can paint the organization in a negative light, there’s a simple solution – don’t make a mess. It’s not the media’s job to clean things up. It’s our responsibility to inform the public that it happened.

But if there’s one part of the media’s decision making that can be improved it’s having a better grasp on who from each organization is entering a team’s workplace to cover them. Some people are professional and thrive in the environment, others are unfit, unsure, and unlikely to help the brand by being there. Not every member of your organization deserves to be in the room, and if they are going to be there, they should know what to do and how to do it.

I remember being in St. Louis at a Rams game a few years ago when I was running 101 ESPN, and enduring the wrath of a Rams PR official for the way one of my staff members was representing the station inside the press box. I began to think about who I had credentialed for the game, and I couldn’t come up with anyone who I thought would harm the station’s reputation.

The Rams PR official then pointed to the individual who was wearing a Rams jersey in the press box, and I discovered that it was a member of our promotions team. This person wasn’t part of the programming team, but they had access to the stadium because they were working in our tent and helping the station connect with listeners.

Were they there to cover the team? No. Did they mean to make the station look bad? Of course not. They didn’t even know it was a cardinal sin to wear a team’s jersey in the press box. It was a place inside the stadium that they hadn’t been to before, and they only entered the room to grab a sandwich and cup of soda.

An honest mistake it might have been, but they worked for my station, therefore they represented my brand, which means I messed up. I took the heat that day, and spoke to the individual afterwards, and it was never an issue again. But what it taught me, was the importance of making sure all staff members knew the ground rules for how to act and conduct themselves in specific places when representing the brand. It would’ve been easy to blame this person for heading into the press box without my permission, but it was just as much on me for not making sure they understood the rules before doing so.

All it takes is one media member conducting themselves improperly in the wrong location for the entire group to look bad. Had my employee entered the locker room that day after the game dressed in that jersey, it would’ve compromised every other reporter, writer, anchor and host’s ability to do their job. That’s permanently damaging to one’s reputation, even if it isn’t intentional.

I bring that specific example to light because in stations across America, I’m sure there are times where an intern or staff member is given a press credential to a local team’s games, and we think nothing about it. We assume they’re going to watch the game, post a few details about it on social media, possibly record some audio afterwards, and then exit.

But have you spoken to them about the way to conduct themselves inside that locker room? Have you given them specific instruction on what to do and how to help the brand while they’re in attendance? Are they shadowing a member of your organization who provides a positive influence and helps them learn the ropes? Or are they going to the game because the food is free and the press pass gives them access to players that they may even attempt to bother for a selfie or an autograph?

I don’t want to insinuate that the media was at fault for the situations that occurred with Richard Sherman and DeMarcus Cousins because I don’t believe they were. The coverage was warranted. Whether each athlete liked the line of questioning or the story that was written is irrelevant. They have a responsibility to be professional, even towards people they don’t see eye to eye with.

But let’s also learn from these situations, and prepare ourselves the best way possible.

Not everyone from your organization belongs inside a locker room. When they do earn the right, make sure they’re prepared and conducting themselves in a way that doesn’t embarrass you, their teammates or the brand. Be specific about your expectations of what they should be doing when they enter a stadium or arena on behalf of the company.

We can’t control the respect others have for us or our medium. But we can be responsible for our own actions and behavior. If we’re treating the people we cover fairly and with respect, maintaining a professional demeanor during the process, and meeting the standards that our employer has outlined are necessary, than that should be enough to help you sleep well at night. The rest is beyond your control.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

Jason Barrett

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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.

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