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3 Sports Media Stories Worthy of a 30 For 30

Jason Barrett

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What if I told you, that another sports media show or personality would be given a future 30 for 30 documentary. Who would you nominate to earn that honor?

On Thursday evening July 13th, ESPN premiered the 30 for 30 film on WFAN’s longtime afternoon show, Mike and the Mad Dog. The story revolved around Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, and the New York sports radio duo’s rise to prominence in the big apple. Mike and Chris enjoyed nineteen successful years on the air together, and in the process, influenced the growth of the entire sports radio format, and many of the broadcasters who operate in it today.

By the end of the episode, Twitter was exploding with conversation about the film, making it one of the evening’s top trending topics. The film ran sixty minutes in length, which I felt was short, but the episode brought back many great memories for those who were familiar with Mike and Chris and their importance to the sports radio format.

When the ratings came out, the film was ESPN’s highest rated 30 for 30 episode in New York City. However, it failed to gain traction outside of the nation’s top media market. Given the regional nature of sports talk radio and its personalities that wasn’t surprising.

After learning about the ratings, I began thinking to myself, which other sports media shows, hosts, stations or stories would be worthy of a similar honor? 30 for 30 films aren’t handed out to just anyone. To earn that type of respect and recognition as a media personality or show, a significant contribution to the industry must be made for a lengthy period of time.

I began jotting down ideas and contemplating who had blazed a large enough trail in the sports media business to warrant consideration. I don’t claim for this list to be bulletproof. But maybe it spurs additional ideas, and reminds us to appreciate the style, skill and special qualities that many great broadcasters have brought to the airwaves, and the life lasting connections they’ve formed with the audience.

There are many giants in our industry. Some have retired after decades of excellence. Some continue to steal the spotlight on television and radio, adding to the legacies they’ve already established. And others have joined the guy in the sky after owning space in the hearts and minds of sports fans during the length of their broadcasting careers.

It’s easy to make a case for Chris Berman, Mike and Mike, Jim Rome, Stephen A. Smith, Pardon The Interruption, Bob Costas and Al Michaels. The same can be said for Stuart Scott, John Saunders, Harry Caray and Craig Sager. And there are many others that belong in the conversation as well.

I don’t expect ESPN to create future 30 for 30 documentaries on these individuals, let alone the ones that I’m making a case for in this article, but since this is the land of make believe, and we’re all allowed to dream, I’ve laid out a few thoughts on who I think is worthy of having their story told. Each of these candidates have left an indelible mark on the sports broadcasting profession, and their ability to resonate with fans on a national level would create greater public interest in their documentaries.

If 30 for 30’s writers, filmmakers, and producers choose down the line to develop a film from one of these ideas, a simple thank you to Barrett Sports Media in the final credits will suffice. Unless of course you’re paying seven figures. In that case, call me!

But while I spend my time sitting around waiting for their call, use your next few minutes to review the three candidates that I’ve chosen, and the reasons why they deserve consideration to be featured in a future 30 for 30 documentary.

Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann – Before the landscape of sports television exploded with tons of options and channels, Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann owned the attention of every sports fan across America for a five year period. The times may have been simpler, the competition less formidable, and the production quality and studio display less appealing, but when Dan and Keith took the air to host The Big Show, viewers adjusted their schedules to make sure they were in front of a television to watch them perform.

From their signature catchphrases to their on-camera chemistry and the sheer joy in which they informed you about the best moments each night from the world of sports, Dan and Keith became television rock stars. They were your friends on SportsCenter and the guys who both fans and athletes each wanted to spend time hanging out and having a beer with. Their style was contagious, their laughs were natural and they inspired many to want to stand in front of camera and develop a career calling sports highlights.

The only downside to Dan and Keith’s tenure is that it didn’t last long enough. Patrick stayed at ESPN until 2006, but Olbermann was long gone, departing in 1997. Upon his exit from Bristol, a town in which Keith was not fond of and had publicly been critical of, sources said there was a better chance of hell freezing over before Olbermann would be welcomed back.

When the network celebrated 25 years of its history, Keith was the one marquee name who wasn’t present. The two sides did though finally turn the page and work together in 2013 when KO signed on to host his own self-titled nightly program. He also returned for ESPN Radio’s 25th anniversary. Patrick cut ties with the network too for a few years, but finally returned in 2015 as Scott Van Pelt’s first guest on SportsCenter.

The emergence of The Big Show gave SportsCenter the jolt of energy it needed during an important time in the show’s history. Although the program had gained ground prior to Dan and Keith’s arrival, once the two teamed up to own the 11pm ET time slot, patterns changed, allegiances were formed, and late night sports television became must-watch and must-discuss.

Since departing from the four letter network, the two broadcasters have taken different roads, enjoying varying levels of success. Olbermann expanded his profile by tossing his hat into the political arena. Patrick stayed true to his sports roots, developing a nationally syndicated radio/television show, and becoming the studio host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football. He’s also continued to make appearances in Adam Sandler films.

They say the true measure of impact is what you accomplish during the time that you’re doing it. Well, for five years Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann owned the attention of every American sports fan, athlete, coach and executive. If 30 for 30 shined the spotlight on their influence on SportsCenter and sports television, they’d earn the nation’s attention again, even if only for an hour or two.

Vin Scully – Like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day, Vin Scully warmed the sports fan’s soul for over six decades. The graceful voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the epitome of class. He made sports fans feel like they were at the ballpark enjoying the sound of the crowd, the taste of the hot dogs and beer, and the smell of the grass, even as they relied on his magical voice to convey the excitement over their radio airwaves. You couldn’t think of the L.A. Dodgers without thinking of Vin Scully.

Throughout his career, Scully shined in nearly everything he did. He was behind the microphone for Hank Aaron’s record breaking 715th home run in 1974. He called NFL games for CBS including Dwight Clark’s catch from Joe Montana against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1982 NFC Championship game. He spent 1983-1989 with NBC where he called three World Series including the classic between the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox in 1986 and the 1988 A’s-Dodgers series which included Kirk Gibson’s infamous pinch hit home run against Dennis Eckersley. He also served as the network’s lead announcer for PGA coverage, working alongside Lee Trevino.

One of the more interesting sagas of his career occurred at CBS where the network chose Pat Summerall over him to work opposite John Madden. The network felt Summerall blended better with Madden, which ultimately proved to be a good decision. The sting from that situation led Scully to NBC.

The list of awards and accomplishments that Scully racked up over his broadcast career is impressive as well. He was given the Ford Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, honored with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for sportscasting along with induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995, and was named the California sportscaster of the year 32 times. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was honored with the Icon Award at the 2017 ESPYS awards show.

Scully was America’s friend on the radio, a master at painting pictures with words, and his excellence continued until his final sentence was uttered in 2016.

The only challenge with producing a Vin Scully documentary is that it’s missing a lot of negativity and friction. Maybe I’m naive to think that respect, decency, and greatness would be enough to make people care, but I’d roll the dice on telling the story of one of America’s finest broadcasters. A story about Vin would not only capture a few eyeballs, but it’d also leave them wet.

Howard Cosell – Few sportscasters were as successful, influential, controversial and colorful as Howard Cosell. Many loved him. Others hated him. But all paid attention to him.

What made Cosell a trailblazer was his uncomfortable and unapologetic approach which often ruffled the feathers of many he spoke with. He was a bombastic personality with a huge ego who referred to himself as arrogant, obnoxious, vain, verbose and a little bit of a showoff. He stood firmly behind his convictions, often using the line “I’m just telling it like it is”.

Perhaps the New York Times described him best when they wrote his obituary in 19995. The newspaper said that Cosell entered sports broadcasting in the mid-1950s, when the predominant style was unabashed adulation. Cosell provided a brassy counterpoint which was first ridiculed, and then copied until it became the dominant note of sports broadcasting.

All of those character traits became part of Cosell’s magic. After carving out a solid niche on New York radio and television, he became a national figure thanks to his interactions with Muhammad Ali. Despite their differences as people, the two discovered an instant chemistry. They were able to cover territory in their conversations that others simply didn’t. The various twists and turns and occasional sparks, made their interviews worth the price of admission.

Cosell was one of the first sportscasters to support Ali when he refused to be inducted into the military. He also publicly supported John Carlos and Tommie Smyth after they raised their fists in a “black power” salute during the 1968 medal ceremony. Most broadcasters sought to steer clear of social and racial issues, but Cosell embraced them, enhancing his public profile, but creating mixed reactions along the way.

It was Cosell who was behind the microphone for one of the most memorable moments in professional boxing history. The brash broadcaster screamed “Down Goes Frazier. Down Goes Frazier. Down Goes Frazier” after George Foreman rattled Smokin’ Joe Frazier in round 1 of their 1973 heavyweight title fight. Foreman would go on to knock out the champion in round 2. The call remains one of the most popular in sports broadcasting history.

To have one of those moments is special enough, but another on-air moment is equally as important to Cosell’s legacy as any other. During a Monday Night Football game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots on December 8, 1980, Cosell stunned the audience by revealing that John Lennon of The Beatles had been shot and killed outside of his apartment in New York City. At first, Cosell was hesitant to announce the news of Lennon’s death, but after being pressed by Frank Gifford, he eventually relayed the information, making it one of the most defining on-air moments in sports television history.

There are many other acts, moments, controversies and contributions that make up the Howard Cosell story. From his introduction of the line “The Bronx Is Burning”, to his controversial remarks about Redskins wide receiver Alvin Garrett, to his best selling memoir “I Never Played The Game” which created tension at ABC and led to his dismissal, Cosell was a colorful and complicated individual. That’s usually what makes for compelling and entertaining programming. If 30 for 30 chose to tell his story, I don’t think they’d struggle to find an audience for it.The beauty of sports media is that it never stops producing interesting personalities and stories. The growing amount of networks and platforms, and interest among viewers, readers and listeners, means we’ll have plenty to choose from when determining which trendsetters and game changers warrant a documentary worthy of the world’s attention, and which ones have built a nice niche but are best remembered in their local backyards.

Maybe one day we’ll profile the digital empire Bill Simmons built. Or Barstool Sports’ influence on sports fans. Or the impact of the Woj bomb after a decade of NBA news breaking dominance. Heck, maybe another sports radio program will have a larger impact on an audience than Mike and the Mad Dog, although I have a difficult time picturing it.

Imagine the uproar if ESPN announced a 30 for 30 was in development to profile the Embrace Debate model and how it changed sports television? The social media insanity would be worth the price of admission alone. As much as people knock it and complain about it, a case could be made that it’s not only produced ratings and big media stars for ESPN, but it’s influenced the way other television networks present their own programming. And I’m not just talking about FS1.

For many in the sports media industry this is a fun topic to debate and discuss. Selfishly we love to hear about members of our business and the stories behind their careers, even if the overall interest in the subject is less when compared to the world of sports and all that it creates. That isn’t to suggest that what we do doesn’t matter or that it’s not worthy of recognition, but choosing the right story is critically important to generating success for a film.

Let me end this column by leaving you with the question that I presented in the opening paragraph. If you were in charge of developing a 30 for 30 documentary, and tasked with creating the next big hit around a sports media personality, show or story, which one would you choose?

But let’s raise the stakes. If you choose right, you earn a lifetime contract to produce films for ESPN. If you make the wrong call, you can never film anyone or anything again.

That shouldn’t be too difficult right? After all, it’s only your career that’s on the line. Choose wisely my friends.

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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