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Why Strong Branding and Imaging Is Needed In Sports Talk Radio

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In today’s radio word there are brands with a heavy focus on branding and imaging and others which put a lesser importance on it. Many have different strategies on why they execute the way they do and I respect that tremendously. Since though I tell my hosts to always have an opinion and not ride the fence on the subjects they’re discussing, I can’t be a hypocrite and not offer my own personal point of view on this topic.

Take a listen around the country and you’re going to hear some stations overly produced and some with little to no imaging creativity. Those which don’t put a lot of focus into their promos, rejoins, on-air branding campaigns, etc. instead use production to air generic station liners and sales supported promotional messages. Is that wrong? Not necessarily but I always wonder why that’s acceptable. We’re in the entertainment business and expected to be creative thinkers with unique ideas yet for some stations they choose to steer clear of that approach.

whyA friend of mine in the industry told me a few months ago that one of the leaders in his company asked “Why do we need imaging and production? We put too much emphasis on it“! He responded by letting this person know that he was nuts to discount its importance. As I thought about their discussion I wondered why one would think its value in what we do wasn’t critical. One of the true strengths of sports radio is the ability to make our format entertaining so when one suggests making it less of a focus it surprises me. Not that it’s wrong because it’s just an opinion but I believe in making a product more entertaining not more homogenized.

As a programmer, one of the real joys for me is when I get to spend time with my Imaging Director and Assistant Program Director and talk through the various ways we want to message things or strengthen the focus of our brand. We’ll sometimes spend hours brainstorming things especially if it’s a specific event or campaign and once that position is identified and we roll it out, it becomes really cool when you can see it and hear it communicated back through the audience.

appleFor example, when we launched 95.7 The Game, we made a decision to be aggressive and utilize the Apple vs. Mac strategy with our promos opposite our local competitor. Similar to a political campaign, we knew there would be people who would rally behind the message and some who would dislike it but regardless, we knew it would get people talking. We utilized our current imaging voice Steve Stone as the voice of the FM radio station and we hired Sean King, the former voice of our competitor to play the old and out of touch AM station. The contrast between Steve and Sean was excellent and to this day I still have people ask me about the campaign.

The full credit for the campaign’s brilliance goes to Jeff Schmidt our Imaging Director who not only knew certain intricacies about the market and our competition but also had a vision for how to bring it to life. To this day it’s one of the most fun campaigns I’ve ever been associated with. Here’s one example for you to enjoy.

 

While on the air it sounded cool, it more importantly got people inside our own building to recognize that we would be fearless in establishing our position in the marketplace. It also fired up local fans who were hungry for a new choice. One of the funniest and best examples of seeing the branding come to life took place a few months later when we held a contest to reward a local fan with an opportunity to host their own show on the station. At our very first audition, one guy showed up 6 hours before the contest wearing a custom made “F KNBR” t-shirt. That my friends is when you know your message has connected.

notinterestedThis subject always gets my juices flowing and lately I’ve wondered, can you imagine how much less interested we might be in television if they took the same approach as some sports radio stations do? How much less would we watch if we weren’t drawn to shows through promos? How much less familiar would we be with brands and their slogan’s if they weren’t pounded into our heads?

Would you know ESPN stood for the “Entertainment and Sports Programming Network” if it wasn’t explained to you? Would you know TBS to be “Very Funny” if they didn’t say they were? How about MTV and their position as “Music Television“? Ok that one we can forget since they hardly offer music anymore but hey they can’t all be grand slams.

itworksLet’s take it beyond television stations for a second. Think about the most popular brands who advertise on many of our radio stations. Bud Light = Here We Go, McDonald’s = I’m Loving It, Geico = 15 minutes could save you 15% on car insurance and Papa Johns = Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Papa Johns. Why do these companies invest so many dollars in advertising and their marketing message? It’s simple…because it works!

Watch the MLB Playoffs, an NFL pre-game show on Sunday or your favorite local channel and how they promote an upcoming program and I guarantee you’re going to receive a strong degree of hype with one main purpose – to peak your curiosity and get you to tune in. These networks understand how to build anticipation and get you interested and they do an excellent job using creative messaging with music that makes you remember what you’re witnessing.

Case in point, check out this promo for the MLB 2014 Playoffs. You’ve likely seen it air during most of the games you’ve watched and by now now you likely have the Fitz and the Tantrums hook permanently implanted inside your brain.

One of my favorite shows on television currently is “Sons of Anarchy” on FX. Each week the shows delivers strong storylines, drama and action that leaves its fans on the edge of their seat. When you look at the way that the show is promoted at the end of each program and throughout the week through promos, it’s no surprise that the show dominates in the ratings. A great show combined with outstanding promotional support and creativity will lead to strong viewership. Here’s a look at one of the show’s promos. See if you can quickly catch on to the events on the show and feel the connection to the drama that’s about to unfold.

http://youtu.be/Ge5AgoPemOQ

Taking a look at a lighter approach, here’s the promo which ran on Tru TV to launch the comedy show “Impractical Jokers“. Watch the clip and see if you can quickly pick up on what the show is about and whether or not you find yourself laughing and curious about what happens. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, I think you’ll agree it’s easy to digest and if you’re into lighter comedy, it should peak your interest.

When you listen to sports radio stations around the country today, ask yourself when you listen if you feel hooked by the creativity and suspense on your favorite brands outside of the main talk show content. I’m not talking about whether or not you remember the name of the station and where it broadcasts from thanks to the top of the hour legal ID. I’m also not talking about liners which lead you back into a segment and remind you of who the host is and the station they’re on. I’m talking about creative production which revolves around big events/games, tune-in opportunities, originality and brand messaging that strikes a chord.

cbsrI notice that a number of CBS sports stations in local markets as well as on the national network, utilize a similar sound. CBS sports talkers will traditionally use jingle packages, older music beds and the same imaging voice (Paul Turner) and be very simple with their approach (not all of them, but most I’ve observed). Given their success in numerous markets, you can say their approach works well for them. They focus on less bells and whistles and more on the nuts and bolts.

On the other hand, ESPN local stations and the network itself do some very strong creative production and present more flair for the dramatic while also winning in numerous markets with a very different philosophy. They also tend to utilize the same imaging voice (Jim and Dawn Cutler) and ESPN branded jingles.

When I listen to those two brands, I can tell instantly how they’re different. As a listener I like it because it provides me with a choice which illustrates that there’s more than one way to run a sports radio station. You’re rarely going to hear a thirty second promo hyping up one of CBS’ local talk shows yet on an ESPN station you’ll hear promos highlighting personalities and regular big name guests. On CBS stations they use liners heading into breaks or off of their updates to reinforce their shows, play by play events or sponsorable items whereas ESPN uses liners to introduce shows, segments or more programming centric items.

hookBoth approaches have their pluses and minuses but I tend to lean more towards the ESPN approach because I look at promos as a tool to draw more occasions to a radio station. The goal of a promo is not to fill thirty seconds of air time and showcase how cool you can sound with fancy editing tools, it’s to make people curious and hook them with interesting examples of your programming, personalities and the radio station. When you highlight personalities, guest appointments, play by play and strong campaigns effectively, they can have an impact on people.

Sometimes when we’re working on promos we forget that a promo in the minds of the audience is another commercial. While we separate it internally, those on the outside see it as an interruption and something that is keeping them away from their favorite talk show host for an extra thirty seconds. If it’s fun, suspenseful, entertaining or powerful, it can draw people in. If not, it’s a time filler and one more roadblock for the listener to navigate past.

As an example, if you’re going to promote a game and all you do is have the voice guy mention the two teams, game time and the position of the station, it’s predictable, not very creative and doesn’t generate an emotional response with your fans. But, if you do it like this, I think you fire up your fan base and get them more excited to tune in.

 

Ultimately, audiences will have different tastes. Some will like brands with a stronger creative delivery and others will prefer the opposite. However I believe that as more stations migrate to FM and new personalities are introduced, the ability to entertain and stand out is going to be more important. Those who wish to stay the current course can certainly do so but as new products continue to emerge, the risk of sounding mundane and trapped in yesteryear could become more problematic.

differentwayToday people are using Spotify, iTunes, iHeart, Pandora and YouTube (just to name a few), when it comes to hearing new music. In the old days, you’d have to wait for a certain time of the day for your favorite music station to introduce new songs. If that same mentality was kept in music radio today, stations would die quickly. Audiences have adapted to a new way of consuming music and they have much less patience or tolerance for clutter so it’s important to connect with them instantly or you risk losing them to other outlets.

Think about this. If the newspaper industry had been at the forefront of where new media was headed, would they have suffered as badly as they have? Today people read Twitter and Facebook first thing in the morning, not the local paper. I’m sure many in the print industry previously thought “we’re a dynasty, irreplaceable, we can’t be caught” but when people operate that way and stop evolving, they leave a door open for others to walk through. The way we now consume written content is much different than we did 10-20 years ago and it was created by an entire industry refusing to change.

scAs it pertains to sports radio or television, the same rules apply. Do you remember what was popular 20-30 years ago? ABC’s Wide World of Sports and ESPN’s SportsCenter were two very strong brands that during their time were seen as acceptable when it came to the studio sets, camera shots, use of video and jingles. Each show was well received by sports audiences. If those same presentations were being delivered today, they’d be rejected quickly because they don’t suit the wants and needs of today’s audience. Clearly ESPN adjusted and continues to do so which is why it’s always among the most powerful brands in America. For all of it’s imperfections, you can’t say they’re not committed to trying new things.

In my view, that’s what sports radio has to do too. Face it, people today can stream stations all over the country and they can download a show via a Podcast and skip interruptions. The goal is to make them want to experience it LIVE and if you employ great talent and enhance your opportunities for tune-ins by reinforcing the cool, dramatic and worthwhile content pieces on your brand through quality imaging, branding and production, you have a puncher’s chance of winning the battle for space inside one’s head.

audienceleaningYou also have to write in a way that the audience relates to and make your messaging sound fun, witty and interesting. The days of “get ready for a steady dose of hardcore sports talk with Joe and Jim” are over. If that’s your level of creativity, prepare to be bypassed by those behind you. Whether you’re a PD, APD, Imaging Director, Promotions Director, Host or Producer, if you’ve got any involvement in the messaging on your radio station, put the time into it because it will stand out favorably or negatively with the audience.

Much like we do with the subjects we talk about, we’re trying to grab the most amount of people possible to consume our content, so if your hosts are being paid to talk about the key things which will grab the majority’s attention, the production and branding of a radio station needs to be focused on the most important things too. I believe it’s much better to beat the drum of 3-4 strong messages then to overload an audience with too many things. Rarely does the majority of your material get consumed that way. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way.

shapingWhen I look around the country today I find myself impressed by the production work done by a number of stations. Arizona Sports 98.7FM in Phoenix, The Ticket in Dallas, 98.7 ESPN NY, WEEI in Boston, 710 ESPN in Seattle and 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia are some who I think do a really nice job. I also think my current station 95.7 The Game does a strong job but its always harder for me to highlight my own brand because I’m too close to it. That said, credit is easy to give when you’ve got good people doing good work.

To bring this to a close, as I look to the future I hope to see stations in this format put a stronger emphasis on production value and recognize its importance in connecting with people. Listeners = supporters of advertisers and the #1 promotional tool for our radio stations. Why that’s not seen in a bigger light by everyone inside every building is puzzling. Add to that the increased engagement and activity from people through social media and you’ve got thousands each day to help spread your message.

Some companies will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a TV marketing campaign to tell local people they exist and when the commercial production process happens, numerous people from the station will get together, analyze every key detail and make sure there is a clear message presented for the viewer to consume. While that’s smart planning if you’re going to do a TV spot to promote your station, I could easily question why the same focus, energy and commitment of time isn’t given to the messages that are being delivered on your own radio station. Chances are you’ll promote your brand more on your own radio station then you’re going to on a television buy.

Sometimes when we’re in our respective buildings, we become creatures of habit and fall victim to taking the easiest path to get something done. If we concentrated more on our own messaging and creative presentation, similar to how we act when a camera is in the room and a light goes on, imagine what we might be able to offer our listeners. Who knows, maybe we’d surprise ourselves and provide more drama and entertainment value than even television can. I’m allowed to think that’s possible right?

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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

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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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Takeaways From The NAB Show and Six Days in Las Vegas

“I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm for the NAB Show was elevated this year.”

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Six days on the road can sometimes be exhausting. Six days in Las Vegas, and it’s guaranteed. That was my world last week, as I along with more than fifty thousand people headed to sin city to take in the 2022 NAB Show.

The event didn’t draw as many as it had in the past, but after two years of inactivity due to the pandemic, it was good to be back. Judging from some of the vendors I talked to, the sessions I attended, and the feedback I received from folks I met with, though far from perfect, it was a solid return for an important event. Seeing people interact, celebrate others, and talk about ways to improve the business was a positive reminder of the world being closer to the normal of 2019 than the normal of 2020-2021. The only negative from the week, the consistent failure of Uber to appear in the right place at the right time. But that had zero to do with the NAB.

It feels like whenever I attend industry conferences, there are two different type of reviews that follow. Some writers attend the show and see the glass half full. Others see the glass half empty. I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm was elevated this year. Maybe it was because BSM was a media partner or maybe it was due to the show not happening for years and just being happy to be among friends, peers, and clients and operate like normal. Either way, my glass was definitely half full.

For those who see events this way, it’s likely they’ll remember the numerous opportunities they had to create and reestablish relationships. They’ll also recall the access to different speakers, sessions, products, and the excellent research shared with those in attendance. The great work done by the BFOA to recognize industry difference makers during their Wednesday breakfast was another positive experience, as was the Sunday night industry gathering at The Mayfair Supper Club.

Included in the conference were sessions with a number of industry leaders. Radio CEO’s took the stage to point out the industry’s wins and growth, credit their employees, and call out audio competitors, big tech, and advertisers for not spending more with the industry. When David Field, Bob Pittman, Ginny Morris and Caroline Beasley speak, people listen. Though their companies operate differently, hearing them share their views on the state of the business is important. I always learn something new when they address the room.

But though a lot of ground gets covered during these interviews, there are a few issues that don’t get talked about enough. For instance, ineffective measurement remains a big problem for the radio business. Things like this shouldn’t happen, but they do. NBC and WarnerMedia took bold steps to address problems with TV measurement. Does radio have the courage to take a similar risk? That’s an area I’d like to see addressed more by higher ups.

I can’t help but wonder how much money we lose from this issue. Companies spend millions for a ratings service that delivers subpar results, and the accountability that follows is often maddening. Given the data we have access to digitally, it’s stunning that radio’s report card for over the air listening is determined by outdated technology. And if we’re going to tell folks that wearables are the missing ingredient for addressing this problem, don’t be shocked if the press that follows is largely negative. The industry and its advertising partners deserve better. So too do the reps at Nielsen who have to absorb the hits, and make the most of a tough situation.

Speaking of advertising, this is another one of those critical areas that deserves another point of view. Case in point, I talked to a few ad agency professionals at the show. Similar to what I’ve heard before, they’re tired of hearing radio leaders blame them for the industry’s present position. This has been a hot button topic with executives for years. I often wonder, do we help or hurt ourselves by publicly calling out advertisers and ad agencies? How would you feel if you ran an agency which spent millions on the industry and were told ‘you don’t do enough’? I’m a champion of radio/audio, and am bullish on spoken word’s ability to deliver results for clients, but having attended these shows for nearly seven years, it might be time for a new approach and message. Or maybe it’s time to put one of our CEO’s with one of theirs and have a bigger discussion. Just a thought.

Of the sessions that I attended, I thought Erica Farber’s ‘What Business Are You In?’ was excellent. I especially liked Taja Graham’s presentation on ‘Sharing Your Truth’. I also appreciated Eric Bischoff’s tips on ways to monetize podcasts, and am curious to see how Amazon’s AMP develops moving forward. My favorite session at the show though was “A GPS Session For Your Station’s Car Radio Strategy” led by Fred Jacobs. The insight shared by Joe D’Angelo of Xperi and Steve Newberry & Suzy Schultz of Quu was outstanding. Keeping the car companies on our side is vital to our survival, and how we position ourselves on the dashboard can’t be ignored. Other tech companies and audio operators take it seriously. We must too.

Sessions aside, it was great to check out the VSiN and Blue Wire studios, connect with a bunch of CEO’s, GM’s and Market Manager’s, and visit with Kevin Jones, Joe Fortenbaugh, Jeremiah Crowe, Jon Goulet, Bill Adee, Q Myers, Mike Golic Jr. and Stormy Buonantony. The NFL’s setup for the Draft, and the light show presented at the Bellagio was without a doubt spectacular, plus Stephanie had a chance to say hello to Raiders owner Mark Davis who was inside the back room of a Westgate restaurant where we were having a business lunch meeting. The personal tour we received at the Wynn showed off some of the best suites I’ve seen in Las Vegas, and I was finally able to witness Circa’s Stadium Swim in person, and meet owner Derek Stevens (heck of a suit game). What an outstanding hotel and casino.

Altogether, it was a productive trip. As someone who knows all about building and executing a conference, I appreciate the work that goes into pulling it off. This event is massive, and I have no idea how the NAB makes it happen so flawlessly. This was the first time my head of sales, Stephanie Eads, got to attend the show. She loved it. Our only negative, going back and forth between convention halls can get exhausting. Wisely, Stephanie and Guaranty Media CEO Flynn Foster took advantage of the underground Tesla ride to move from the North hall to the West hall. I wasn’t as bright. If that’s the worst part of the experience though, that’s pretty solid. I look forward to returning in 2023, and attending the NAB’s NYC show this fall.

Additional:

You’ve likely seen posts from BSM/BNM on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn promoting a number of open positions. I’m adding crew to help us pump out more content, and that means we need more editors, news writers, features reporter’s and columnists. If you’re currently involved or previously worked in the industry and love to write about it, send a resume and few writing samples by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

With that said, I’m excited to announce the addition of Ryan Brown as a weekly columnist for BSM. Ryan is part of ‘The Next Round’ in Birmingham, Alabama, which previously broadcast on WJOX as JOX Roundtable. The show left the terrestrial world in June 2021 to operate as its own entity. Ryan’s knowledge and opinions should provide a boost to the site, and I’m looking forward to featuring his columns every Tuesday. Keep an eye out for it tomorrow, and if you want to check out the guest piece he previously wrote for us, click here.

Demetri Ravanos and I have talked to a lot of people over the past month. More additions will be revealed soon. As always, thanks for the continued support of BSM and BNM.

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Six New Contributors Join Barrett Media

“These latest additions will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.”

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Building a brand starts with a vision. Once that vision is defined, you identify the people who fit what you’re creating, lay out the game plan, and turn them loose to execute. If the product you’re creating is original, fills a gap in the marketplace, and the work turned in by your team is consistently excellent and promoted in the right locations, more times than not you’ll build an audience.

As you grow, the focus turns to studying what your audience wants, needs, and expects from your brand. Certain things you expect to be big turn out small, and the things you saw limited upside in create opportunities you never saw coming. It’s critical to be open minded and ready to pivot while also examining where and when people consume your product, which pieces of content do and don’t matter, and then use that information to direct your team to give folks more of what they value and less of what they don’t. Team members should want that feedback too. It tells them what is and isn’t worth spending their time on.

As I lay all of that out it may sound like I’m talking about a radio station or television operation. These are the things programmers do frequently to make sure the talent, shows, and brand is satisfying the expectations of an audience. But what I’m actually referring to is the brand you’ve made a choice to click on to read this column, Barrett Media.

I’ve mentioned many times on this website how I started this operation by myself, and didn’t expect to have a team of writers involved in it. I was focused on consulting sports stations, sharing my programming views on this website, and as I cranked out content consistently, I discovered others loved the business like I did and had a desire to share their insights too. Rather than sticking to my original plan, I pivoted and increased our content offerings. In return, the audience grew, clients grew, and it’s led this brand to grow beyond my expectations. Now we cover sports AND news media, we run an annual conference, feature a membership program, create podcasts, deliver a daily 8@8 and three times per week BNM Rundown newsletter, and work with various brands and companies across the broadcasting industry. I’m extremely fortunate to be in this position and don’t take it for granted.

But with growth comes change. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of talented people contribute to this site over the years, and as they produce quality work, and others across the industry recognize it, they earn interest for their services. That then leads to some having to sign off for bigger opportunities. I see that as a great positive for the brand. Would it be nice to have more consistency and keep a crew together for years? Of course. I know it’d make Demetri’s life a lot easier. If we’re losing people for the right reasons though, and they’re landing opportunities that help them advance their careers, I’m going to be happy for their success, and trust that we’ll find others to keep us moving forward. The success of our team helps make what we do more attractive to others because it shows that if you do good consistent work here, you can put yourself in a position to attract attention.

Over the past two months, I have challenged Demetri Ravanos to invest more time talking to people about writing for us. Expanding our Barrett News Media roster is a priority. So too is adding quality people to help us improve Barrett Sports Media. BSM has had just under seven years to earn trust with readers. BNM has had less than two. We’ve put out ads on our website and newsletters, social posts, an ad on Indeed, and we’ve reached out directly to people who we’ve felt may be able to add something interesting to our brand. Most of my time is spent listening to stations and talking with clients, but my eyes are always roaming looking for content, and my mind is always thinking about what we can create next to make an impact.

I don’t judge our brand’s success based on clicks, shares, breaking news before other outlets or showing up in the top three listings on Google. I care more effort accuracy, timeliness, passion, consistency, storytelling, insight, and being fair and non-agenda driven. We’ve found our niche being able to tell stories about broadcasting professionals, relaying news, and offering expert knowledge to serve those involved in the broadcasting industry. If we continue to excel doing those things consistently, I’m confident our audience will reward us by reading and sharing more of our content. It’s why we never stop recruiting to keep things fresh.

Having said that, I am excited today to reveal six new additions to the Barrett Media staff. Peter Schwartz is a name and voice many in New York sports radio circles are familiar with. Peter has spent three decades working with various outlets and I’m thrilled to have him writing weekly feature stories for us. Brady Farkas is a talented host and former programmer who now works for WDEV in Burlington, VT. Karl Schoening is a play by play broadcaster who has worked in San Antonio sports radio and has had the added benefit of learning the industry from his talented father Bill who calls Spurs games. Each of them will produce bi-weekly feature stories for the brand. Jason Ence is in Louisville and has written about sports betting for Twin Spires while also working for ESPN 680. He’ll be writing sports betting content for us on a weekly basis. Jasper Jones will help us by adding news stories on Friday’s. He’s presently in Philadelphia learning the business working for Audacy. Last but not least, veteran author, Brewers writer, and former radio professional Jim Cryns comes on board to help us with features on news media professionals.

These six additions make us stronger, and I’m excited to have them join the team to help us add more quality content to the website. That said, we’re not done yet. Demetri and I are still talking with others and I expect to make a few more additions in the weeks ahead. As I said earlier, we want to improve the news media side of our operation and continue adding people to help us make a bigger dent in the sports media space. Broadcast companies invest in us to help them, and I believe it’s important to invest back.

If you’ve programmed, hosted a top rated show, worked in measurement, led a cluster as a GM, sold advertising, represented talent or have worked in digital and feel you have knowledge to share, reach out. I can’t promise we’ll have room but we’re always willing to listen. I’m not worried about whether or not you’ve written for professional publications. Passion, experience and unique insights matter much more than a resume or journalism degree.

I appreciate everyone who takes time to read our content, like and share it on social, and all involved with this brand who help bring it to life each day. The latest additions of Schwartz, Farkas, Schoening, Ence, Jones and Cryns will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.

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