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Anti-Social Vs. Socially Consumed: Which One Are You?

Jason Barrett

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It’s safe to say that there’s been a social media explosion over the past 10 years and chances are you’ve caught the bug. Each day we wake up and check our Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds before we even look at a website, listen to a radio station, watch a TV channel or god forbid open a newspaper (I actually know some people who still do it). This is a way of life for us and our listeners and given how many platforms launch and succeed each year, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

If you scan the country today, you’ll find tons of sports radio personalities who are passionately engaged in these forums and take the responsibility of connecting very seriously. To list a few examples, Damon Bruce & John Middlekauff at 95.7 The Game-SF, Chad Doing at 750 The Game-Portland, Shan Shariff at 104.3 The Fan-Dallas and Chad Dukes & Grant Paulssen at 106.7 The Fan-Washington DC are just some of the on-air hosts who do a great job in this space.

johnkincadeI’ll also catch guys like John Kincade at 680 The Fan-Atlanta, Bob Fescoe at 610 Sports-KC and Freddie Coleman at ESPN Radio use their Twitter feeds to drive radio teases and content tune-ins on their shows and I think that’s very smart. It certainly makes you wonder what they’re talking about and creates an urgency to want to click the station’s app button on your phone and hear what’s going on.

While there’s no denying the importance social media plays in our daily lives, there is some debate in the sports talk radio universe of how heavily invested we should be in it. While that may seem crazy to some of you, there’s some good reasoning offered on the other side to make for a great discussion.

Case in point, Mike Francesa of WFAN in New York has talked openly for the past few years about his lack of interest in it. Mike admits that he doesn’t have a Twitter or Facebook account and has no plans to adjust. He also doesn’t think athletes should be using the forum. There are plenty of other established major market personalities who share similar views.

Now some of you will dismiss that and say “he’s behind the times” or “he doesn’t get it” and maybe there’s some validity to that point of view but there’s equal value to the point he raises about giving things away for free in too many places and not making your radio show a unique one of a kind destination.

twitterLet’s face it, in the ratings world today it’s likely that a user with a PPM meter has a Facebook account. Maybe even a Twitter account. One could say that being active in both of these locations gives you a better chance to form a loyal bond with the individual which then makes them want to consume your show more.

The other side of that equation is that because the individual with a meter already knows what you think and has seen you interacting with everyone about it online, there’s no specific need now to tune into your radio show. It may seem far fetched but can you be so sure that isn’t accurate?

I myself have a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn account and I believe there is great value in being accessible, connecting with people and staying involved in what the latest trends are but I do know that each medium has the ability to infect you like a virus and keep you so busy that you lose focus and decrease your own productivity.

Once you start letting the feedback consume you and ultimately influence you, you’re likely to hate it. That’s where social media can be really dangerous. I have watched hosts change segments based on a few tweets and I’ve seen them also spend hours going back and forth with 2-3 people who have no interest in having a good healthy discussion and are only interested in getting under their skin.

stltodayI can recall in 2006 moving to St. Louis to program 590 The Fan, KFNS and before Twitter/Facebook became the powerful outlets for feedback that they are today, message boards were the popular thing. I was new to town and unfamiliar with them so I figured I’d better get up to speed since every host, producer and employee seemed consumed by one of my former colleagues Bernie Miklasz’s “Bernie’s Press Box” in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Well before I knew it I found myself reading the board daily, hearing my staff talk about stuff from it and letting it influence their opinions. At one point I started to even question my own beliefs because I was working for a place which had made some bad decisions and the reaction to what I was involved in was strong and I felt I needed to be aware.

I finally woke up one day and thought to myself “what the hell am I doing“? While I couldn’t fix every single issue with the company, I knew I had to detach myself from that outlet because it was now causing me to not do what I was good at which was trust my gut.

Today, I use Twitter and I do engage at times with listeners and I’ve even been known to conduct special chat sessions or use the social media world for surveys and soliciting focus group participants. What I make sure not to do these days though is let it impact the way I think about my brand, my staff and any decision I make.

Jason on the mic in TorontoFor talent, that challenge is much harder. When you’re on a microphone communicating your position on every single sports topic, it’s going to lead to reaction. I’m a PD so I don’t have to endure the wrath of a half of a market when I speak my opinion about a sports topic but as a personality it comes with the territory. While I think it’s great to know that your words do connect with people, I think it’s equally wise to remember that a strong well informed opinion on a subject that has value to local people should create a response every single time! If you’re not creating a reaction then you’re likely just background noise.

The real key for on-air personalities is trying to strike a balance between being active and accessible yet not giving away the farm for free. People love to see you online during a game talking about it with them and you want to be able to provide some color on the game but saving the good stuff needs to factor into your thinking if you want to keep people interested and adjusting schedules to catch your show.

I do believe that the future of media personalities requires you to be much more than a radio host. In the future (and present) companies are going to expect you to be able to do a radio show, video commentary, write a blog, engage on social media, sell products, appear in the community and get out to games and build relationships with teams and fans.

moneyballSome will bitch and moan “that’s a lot of work” or “it wasn’t like that back in the day” and much like with everything else in life, change happens. If I recall correctly, in the movie “Moneyball” Brad Pitt said it best “Adapt or Die“.

Ask someone in local television today who shoots their own video and does their own stand ups. Sure some will say “this is ridiculous” and “it wasn’t like this before” but the media industry will move on just fine without those who adapt and the list of people interested in this line of work will only increase.

The next part I want to touch on is the value or lack thereof of following people back and blocking them. Unless someone starts firing personal attacks or provides little benefit to me to engage with them, I usually refrain from blocking people. Once again though, I’m a PD and not an on-air personality. Some of the things that get sent to personalities today would make you sick to your stomach. I’ve seen it occur in multiple markets where things that were sent in were so over the line and being done so frequently that there could be grounds for an arrest for harassment.

twitterblockedNone the less, as a personality you’re in a no-win situation. Your opinions drive reactions and people will always have different viewpoints on everything you say and you’re in the public spotlight so the second you begin engaging in a confrontational way, it consumes your mind day/night and in most cases it just fuels the fire of people who’s sole purpose is to get under your skin. And if you react and take it too far? It could cost you your job.

If you follow Keith Olbermann on Twitter you’ll see that he doesn’t hide from the negativity and at times he even welcomes it. While I don’t see a lot of benefit for KO in getting into twitter battles with viewers, I will say that I find his jabs very entertaining. In some ways I’m glad he does it because too many personalities get verbally abused and are then expected to not stand up for themselves.

The only areas of concern for me are “what is really being gained from it” and “is it worth it if a line gets crossed and some corporate executive or key client gets offended“? Let’s face it, we’re in a very sensitive world today and people presume you guilty a lot faster than they consider you innocent. That said, Olbermann’s responses are hysterical.

. I’ve had jobs for 35 years, little one. You have a twitter account. And not much of that.

While KO has his approach, Jay Mohr has a very different approach. I read an interview with him (click here) where he discussed his views on social media and what blew me away was when he talked about his strategy on positive and negative reactions.

jaymohrHis exact quote was “The golden rule of Twitter is you cannot ever respond to somebody saying something negative to you. It took me a good three years to learn that, and, even still, I’ll start to type something and be a sentence or two in before I realize, What am I doing? Why am I answering this person? I’ve blocked about 3,000 people. I’ve made Twitter this ivory tower of Babel where people only say nice things about me.”

Here’s Jay, a popular public figure doing a daily show and expected to be accessible and yet he’s shutting down future communications with more than 3,000 people. Is that really wrong though? For his own peace of mind I bet he’s much happier opening his twitter account each day and not dealing with a ton of negativity. That probably puts him in a better frame of mind to be creative and do a great show and if he’s blocking people who don’t enjoy what he does anyway, are they really the fans who you want to focus your energy on anyway?

You can also make the case that by only promoting the positive, it creates the illusion that everyone likes Jay and his show and that can often create a domino effect where others feel like they need to start getting familiar with what’s happening on the show so they don’t feel left out. That’s one of the simple rules of marketing, say something enough times and people will start repeating it.

If you take it one step further, look at brands in general. Some feel strongly about following back listeners and some don’t. Some will post station only content benefits and some will respond to listeners messages. As a good brand example, I personally think the airline industry does a great job of responding to their customers. They’re very timely and often witty and I’m sure they see great value in it.

Get hurt. Try to fly back home and mechanical issues. Awesome.

 

Our apologies for the delay, Josh. We’ll do what we can to keep our plane off the . What’s your flight number?

One big challenge we have today in our business with social media is trying to keep up with the thousands of responses per day while putting the responsibility on staff members who are also trying to balance doing 2-3 other jobs. Yes the interaction is very important and we don’t want to be dismissive of our audience but if the on-air product suffers from it, is it worth it? At that point you’re choosing between sipping two different poisons. Either way you’re in trouble.

I’ll close with this. If you’re not on Twitter today, you’re missing out on knowing about breaking news. Whether you love the service or not, if you’re not aware of what’s going on there you’re missing key information that matters to your audience. Every single reporter across the country is breaking news on Twitter before they do it on their ow company’s platforms and while that boggles my mind and one could question why, this is how the news cycle works in today’s environment and you need to be where the action is.

francesaI do think one key takeaway from Mike Francesa’s views on social media is valid – are you giving away your best material for free and leaving nothing unique and special for your show? If your best stuff is left on Twitter or you’re recycling the same exact lines from the night before, you may want to alter your approach. For more on his views on the subject, watch his keynote address on the sports talk radio industry by clicking here.

That said I believe there’s great personal and promotional value for personalities and it’s a smarter long-term strategy for your career to be accessble and active in social locations where fans are. It’s certainly not for everybody but I see more upside being there than downside for not but that’s just my point of view.

I’ll leave you to consider this. Mike Francesa has no connection in any social space and yet he’s been (and still is) one of the highest rated performers in the #1 media market in the country. Maybe he’s missing out on what’s important to people today and he’s not thinking about what’s going to matter tomorrow but given his track record of success, he might not be as crazy as you might think. I’ll let you be the judge!

How do you feel about the importance of social media and how active personalities and sports radio professionals should be? Leave a comment below to continue the conversation!

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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