Over the past two years, a rapid interest has developed in podcasting. While it’s actually been available for years, and personalities such as Bill Simmons and Adam Carolla have enjoyed great success in the space, the commitment from advertisers, broadcast companies, and personalities has grown significantly.
One program which influenced a change in perception of podcasting was the show “Serial“. The program focused on an investigation into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old student in Baltimore, Maryland. Lee’s ex-boyfriend, Adnan Masud Syed was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, but his first trial ended in a mistrial. After a six-week second trial, Syed was found guilty of Lee’s murder and given a life sentence, despite pleading his innocence.
In February 2015, three weeks after the end of Serial’s first season, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals filed a decision allowing Syed to appeal his conviction. The Court also announced that another three-judge panel would address the question of whether new evidence from an alibi of Syed’s, would be admitted.
The interest in the case, and the information learned on the program, pushed Serial’s season one downloads to over sixty eight million. With the rise in popularity came a large amount of mainstream media coverage, which helped the show gain an extension for two more seasons.
Although Serial made a major splash, it isn’t the only program to experience massive success in the podcasting world. Other popular personalities like Joe Rogan, the Sklar Brothers, Shaquille O’Neal, and pro wrestlers “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Chris Jericho, have taken their talents to the podcasting arena too, and gained strong followings.
Comedian Marc Maron is another personality who delivers a strong audience. To date, his podcast has been downloaded more than one hundred million times. It was also the first podcast to welcome the President of the United States Barack Obama as a guest.
Recently, CBS Money Watch said advertising on podcasts had grown to the tune of thirty four million dollars annually. PodcastOne Chairman Norm Pattiz (who’s company sells ad time for Carolla’s show), believes its closer to fifty million. He said “If it were $34 million, we’d be way over 50 percent of the business, and I don’t believe that we are“.
With advertiser interest growing, more personalities wanting in, and audiences displaying a heavier appetite for the content, is there a stark difference between podcasting and radio? Sometimes in our industry we latch on to new things, or reimage old ones to become excited again, but in this case, I do believe there are some big differences.
In the past week alone, I consumed fourteen different podcasts to gain a sense of what each program’s recipe was for serving their audience. What I found was that each program was different, and that alone fueled my desire to learn more about the platform’s approach.
The programs I listened to were:
- The Big Podcast with Shaq and John Kincade
- The Adam Carolla Show
- The Stinkin Truth with Mark Schlereth
- Talk Is Jericho
- The Tony Bruno Show
- The Ross Report
- The Bill Simmons Podcast
- The SI Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch
- Sklarboro Country
- Bernie and Randy
- Franco and Kags
- Dennis and Callahan’s Breaking Balls Podcast
- Radio Stuff with Larry Gifford
- The Podcast About Sports Radio with Zach McCrite
In comparison to radio, there were a number of similarities, but there also were some major differences. I put a chart together to outline some of those items.
|SUBJECT||SPORTS RADIO||SPORTS PODCASTS|
|CONTENT & FORMULA||Follows a Clock & Format||Free Flowing & No Rules|
|SHOW LENGTHS||2-4 Hours||30-90 Minutes|
|DISTRIBUTION||Everyday||1-2x per week|
|ORIGINAL PROGRAMS||Set Lineups M-F||Tons of Variety|
|SPORTS UPDATES||2-3X Per Hour||Rarely any|
|COMMERCIAL BREAKS||3-4 Per Hour||Rarely any|
|COMMERCIAL TIME||12-20 Minutes Per Hour||Rarely any|
|LIVE READS/MENTIONS||Avg. of 2-3X Per Hour||Avg. of 2-3X per episode|
|REVENUE UPSIDE||High/Lots of opportunities||Low/Limited opportunities|
|SUCCESS MEASURED||Nielsen Ratings||Total downloads/Time Spent Per Episode|
If you’re an audio listener, and you spend two hours, one with a radio program, and the other with a podcast, you’ll receive much more content from a podcast. Commercials are not part of the strategy, and because they don’t consistently interrupt the flow of the shows, it’s a major benefit for the audience.
Some other positives include the show lengths which are usually 30-60 minutes. Most commuters can consume an entire show during a drive to or from work. There’s no feeling of “I’m going to miss out“. It’s more in line with television’s approach to programming. Those who listen to a podcast, are likely to listen to others too.
The opportunity to listen to long segments, unfiltered discussions, and gain a peek behind the curtain are other reasons to listen. This allows the talent to be comfortable and authentic. For example, when I listened to Adam Carolla, he got into some very explicit discussions on sex. If the same show had aired on terrestrial radio, Adam either would’ve avoided the subject or presented a PG/R rated version. If he said what he did on his podcast, he would have been suspended or fired, and his employer would’ve been subject to an FCC fine.
What I really enjoyed hearing was how loose most of the personalities were, and how unscripted the programming was. In certain cases I heard shows welcome guests who I’m positive would’ve been declined on local radio stations because they didn’t play into the strategy of delivering ratings. Certain interviews also provided interesting nuggets of information because the discussions were allowed to materialize, and weren’t trying to fit inside an allotted amount of segment time.
There were three great examples of this that jumped out to me.
First, John Kincade and Shaq had a conversation with Kobe Bryant that was as good as gold. If you haven’t heard it, do yourself a favor and check it out. It was fascinating because Shaq and Kobe were able to relax, and reminisce without it feeling like they were under the microscope, and John had a great sense of when to get involved and when to sit out.
Because the environment was soothing for Shaq and Kobe, the interview entered areas that I don’t believe it would’ve had it taken place on a local radio station. If you have the time to listen, it’s worth it. Make sure also to listen after the interview to the conversation between John and Shaq about “Deez Nuts“. It’s very entertaining.
The second piece to produce a similar result was Richard Deitsch’s podcast with WWE personality Paul Heyman. There was no time limit on the discussion which kept it from feeling rushed, and because Richard does his homework, he’s able to get into certain areas with his guests, and pull things out of them that a listener can appreciate. Hearing Paul discuss how he prepares for his next promo on Raw, why he connects with eloquent people, and how he feels about professional wrestling gaining more mainstream media coverage was very insightful.
The last example I want to highlight was from Larry Gifford’s Radio Stuff podcast. His subject was the rise and fall of Cumulus Media, and he utilized a lot of audio clips in it to help him tell an interesting story. What jumped out the most though was his conversation with Tom Leykis. When I heard Tom say “Cumulus is one of the prime murderers of the broadcasting business” I was intrigued.
Tom then shared his personal account of how Cumulus treated him during negotiations, and how their approach pushed him away from returning to the radio business. While I wasn’t privy to his situation, and am sure there’s another side to it, I felt like I was in the room because of the way he presented it. It was a riveting piece of audio, and one that I don’t believe I’d hear on a local radio show.
While each of those examples above highlights the many benefits being provided by podcasts, I also discovered some negatives.
First, nothing is more aggravating as a content consumer than clicking on a button to hear a show, and then having to wait two minutes for the personality to start the program. This happens because the hosts are reading ads right out of the gate. While I understand the challenge of generating revenue on these programs, this will become a bigger issue for advertisers in the future.
The biggest reason is because every time a program starts with a talent reading a sponsor message, I fast forward past it. One of the great tools of digital listening, is that you have more control over the way you consume it. When you’re in the car, you either endure commercials, and sponsor mentions, or you change the channel, and hope to return to the station, and not miss anything important. When you’re at your computer or listening on your phone, you can skip to the good stuff, and eliminate the bad.
It’s very similar in my opinion to the DVR. If you record a television show and watch it back, you’re more likely to skip past the commercials than sit through them. The same holds true when listening to a podcast. I’m sure advertisers would rather not hear that.
Sticking with business, I did find my recall of advertisers was higher with podcasting than with radio. On podcasts, sponsors are woven into the programming during select times, and because the interruptions are fewer, and shorter, I sat through them, and remembered them.
There’s also a positive vibe you feel towards the client because they’ve invested in a unique show that you listen to. You want to reward them for that association. I also heard many hosts supporting their clients, and providing good strong personalized reads, rather than breezing past them as we often hear on radio shows.
If I can keep my critical cap on for a moment, I’ll add that because the programming is often recorded, and not touching on LIVE events, there is less of a feeling of urgency to consume it. If listeners don’t check back often, and traffic decreases, that could hurt revenue.
Another challenge that can’t be ignored is that podcasts offer less programming than local radio shows. Top flight personalities on radio provide fifteen to twenty hours of content per week, while podcasts deliver one to two hours. If you’re in the advertising world, that means less opportunity on podcasts, and more opportunity on radio.
There was one one other tidbit I picked up on that I felt was worth a mention. It applies to the difference in the way the podcasts are presented. Certain talents like Deitsch, the Sklar Brothers, Jericho, Austin, and Simmons, present their shows differently than Bruno, Gifford, McCrite, and Bernie and Randy.
This stems from some podcasters being radio personalities who are used to delivering content a certain way, and others more focused on talking, and less worried about structure and presentation. I can list the pros and cons for each approach, but the one you’ll gravitate towards is the one that appeals to your personal tastes.
For those personalities I listened to who are working for local radio stations, I appreciate them providing something different on their podcasts than what they treat listeners to over the airwaves. That’s very important.
For example, in the case of Bernie and Randy, they don’t do a daily radio show together. Both men are popular to St. Louis sports fans, and occupy drive time slots on 101 ESPN, and by creating the podcast, it brings them together once per week. This helps the station offer a unique program on its digital platform, which gives listeners an extra incentive to visit.
If there’s one piece of advice I can pass along to those who partake in creating podcasts, make sure you’re providing a different experience online than the one you present on-air. Taking your radio program, posting it online, and calling it a podcast is not accurate. Promoting that the show is available on-demand on the website is fine, but podcasts are different. Based on these numbers from Triton, you can see why it’s important to be in this space, and offer original programming.
Earlier in this column I asked if there was a big difference between podcasting and radio, and in my opinion it’s a complicated answer. From the content standpoint, there’s little difference. It’s still programming built around people sharing opinions, stories, and parts of their lives that make them interesting. The format may be different, but it’s still an audio broadcast.
Where things change is when you analyze the business, and content creation strategies. Are personalities providing too much content on radio by broadcasting fifteen to twenty hours per week? If the average listener in a top 5 market consumes thirty to forty minutes per day, does the additional time matter?
How much of that programming time is spent on creating memorable content versus filling air time with calls, and serviceable material? With attention spans shrinking daily, I wonder if we’ll see a shift towards short-focused programming, and a reduction in long-form content.
As far as business is concerned, if commercials aren’t included, and sponsor reads are limited, then how much more money can the platform generate? Downloads, and time spent listening may increase, and that will help the narrative when requesting higher premiums, but there’s still a lack of inventory, and not enough regular programming. Unless that changes, or listeners start paying to consume the content, I struggle to see how the revenue gains will be significant.
If you’re a listener, that’s not your issue. You should love what’s happening with podcasting. You get to enjoy a lot of great talent, content without disruptions, and insight into situations that don’t have a chance to materialize often on local radio. You can also consume it faster which leaves you time for other things that are important in your daily life, and because the programming is offered weekly or bi-weekly, you typically are treated to something good.
As you can see on the image above, younger audiences are growing up listening this way. If this becomes the future of audio delivery, then media companies better start figuring out how to monetize it better.
From where I sit, I believe podcasting provides enormous opportunity. CBS and Hubbard Radio have already entered the fray by making sizeable investments, and I expect other groups to follow suit in the future.
The only thing debatable in my mind is whether or not the platform can tip the scale for broadcast companies, and become the additional revenue stream they need to pull themselves out of the abyss they’ve been stuck in for the past decade.
Is this a fifty million dollar business that will experience slight economic growth? Or is it a model that’s representative of the future, and will deliver ten to fifteen times it’s current number? That’s radio’s problem to solve, not the audience’s. They’re doing their part by showing up and supporting it.
Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network
“We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July.”
To run a successful digital content and consulting company in 2022 it’s vital to explore new ways to grow business. There are certain paths that produce a higher return on investment than others, but by being active in multiple spaces, a brand has a stronger chance of staying strong and overcoming challenges when the unexpected occurs. Case in point, the pandemic in 2020.
As much as I love programming and consulting stations to assist with growing their over the air and digital impact, I consider myself first a business owner and strategist. Some have even called me an entrepreneur, and that works too. Just don’t call me a consultant because that’s only half of what I do. I’ve spent a lot of my time building relationships, listening to content, and studying brands and markets to help folks grow their business. Included in my education has been studying website content selection, Google and social media analytics, newsletter data, the event business, and the needs of partners and how to best serve them. As the world of media continues to evolve, I consider it my responsibility to stay informed and ready to pivot whenever it’s deemed necessary. That’s how brands and individuals survive and thrive.
If you look at the world of media today compared to just a decade ago, a lot has changed. It’s no secret during that period that podcasting has enjoyed a surge. Whether you review Edison Research, Jacobs Media, Amplifi Media, Spotify or another group’s results, the story is always the same – digital audio is growing and it’s expected to continue doing so. And that isn’t just related to content. It applies to advertising too. Gordon Borrell, IAB and eMarketer all have done the research to show you where future dollars are expected to move. I still believe it’s smart, valuable and effective for advertisers to market their products on a radio station’s airwaves, but digital is a key piece of the brand buy these days, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Which brings me to today’s announcement.
If you were in New York City in March for our 2022 BSM Summit, you received a program at the show. Inside of one of the pages was a small ad (same image used atop this article) which said “Coming This Summer…The BSM Podcast Network…Stay Tuned For Details.” I had a few people ask ‘when is that happening, and what shows are you planning to create?’ and I kept the answers vague because I didn’t want to box ourselves in. I’ve spent a few months talking to people about joining us to help continue producing quality written content and improve our social media. Included in that process has been talking to members of our team and others on the outside about future opportunities creating podcasts for the Barrett Sports Media brand.
After examining the pluses and minuses, and listening and talking to a number of people, I’m excited to share that we are launching the BSM Podcast Network. We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July. Demetri Ravanos will provide oversight of content execution, and assist with production and guest booking needs for selected pods. This is why we’ve been frequently promoting Editor and Social Media jobs with the brand. It’s hard to pursue new opportunities if you don’t have the right support.
The titles that will make up our initial offerings are each different in terms of content, host and presentation. First, we have Media Noise with Demetri Ravanos, which has produced over 75 episodes over the past year and a half. That show will continue in its current form, being released each Friday. Next will be the arrival of The Sports Talkers Podcast with Stephen Strom which will debut on Thursday June 23rd, the day of the NBA Draft. After that, The Producer’s Podcast with Brady Farkas will premiere on Wednesday June 29th. Then as we move into July, two more titles will be added, starting with a new sales focused podcast Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves. The final title to be added to the rotation will be The Jason Barrett Podcast which yours truly will host. The goal is to have five weekly programs distributed through our website and across all podcasting platforms by mid to late July.
I am excited about the creation of each of these podcasts but this won’t be the last of what we do. We’re already working on additional titles for late summer or early fall to ramp up our production to ten weekly shows. Once a few ideas and discussions get flushed out, I’ll have more news to share with you. I may consider adding even more to the mix too at some point. If you have an idea that you think would resonate with media professionals and aspiring broadcasters, email me by clicking here.
One thing I want to point out, this network will focuses exclusively on various areas of the sports media industry. We’ll leave mainstream sports conversations to the rest of the media universe. That’s not a space I’m interested in pursuing. We’ve focused on a niche since arriving on the scene in 2015 and have no plans to waver from it now.
Additionally, you may have noticed that we now refer to our company as ‘Barrett Media’. That’s because we are now involved in both sports and news media. That said, we are branding this as the BSM Podcast Network because the titles and content are sports media related. Maybe there will be a day when we introduce a BNM version of this, but right now, we’ve got to make sure the first one works right before exploring new territory.
Our commitment to delivering original industry news, features and opinions in print form remains unchanged. This is simply an opportunity to grow in an area where we’ve been less active. I know education for industry folks and those interested in entering the business is important. It’s why young people all across the country absorb mountains of debt to receive a college education. As valuable as those campus experiences might be, it’s a different world once you enter the broadcasting business.
What I’d like to remind folks is that we continue to make investments in the way we cover, consult, and discuss the media industry because others invest in us. It’d be easy to stockpile funds and enjoy a few more vacations but I’m not worried about personal wealth. I’m focused on building a brand that does meaningful work by benefitting those who earn a living in the media industry or are interested in one day doing so. As part of that process I’m trying to connect our audience to partners who provide products, services or programs that can benefit them.
Since starting this brand, we’ve written more than 18,000 articles. We now cover two formats and produce more than twenty five pieces of content per day. The opportunity to play a small role in keeping media members and future broadcasters informed is rewarding but we could not pay people to edit, write, and host podcasts here if others didn’t support us. For that I’m extremely grateful to those who do business with us either as a consulting client, website advertiser, Summit partner or through a monthly or annual membership. The only way to get better is to learn from others, and if our access to information, knowledge, relationships and professional opinions helps others and their brands, then that makes what we do worthwhile.
Thanks as always for the continued support. We appreciate that you read our content each day, and hope to be able to earn some of your listenership in the future too.
5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs
“Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.”
I recently appeared on a podcast, Monetize Media, to discuss the growth of Barrett Media. The conversation covered a lot of ground on business topics including finding your niche, knowing your audience and serving them the right content in the right locations, the evolution of the BSM Summit, and why consulting is a big part of our mix but can’t be the only thing we do.
Having spent nearly seven years growing this brand, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just know what’s worked for us, and it starts with vision, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to adapt quickly. There are many areas we can be better in whether it’s social media, editing, SEO, sales, finding news, producing creative original content or adding more staff. Though there’s always work to be done and challenges to overcome, when you’re doing something you love and you’re motivated to wake up each day doing it, that to me is success.
But lately there’s one part of the job that I haven’t enjoyed – the hiring process. Fortunately in going through it, I was able to get to know Arky Shea. He’s a good guy, talented writer, and fan of the industry, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s joining us as BSM’s new night time editor. I’ll have a few other announcements to make later this month, but in the meantime, if you’re qualified to be an editor or social media manager, I’m still going through the process to add those two positions to our brand. You can learn more about both jobs by clicking here.
Working for an independent digital brand like ours is different from working for a corporation. You communicate directly with yours truly, and you work remotely on a personal computer, relying on your eyes, ears and the radio, television, and internet to find content. Because our work appears online, you have to enjoy writing, and understand and have a passion for the media industry, the brands who produce daily content, and the people who bring those brands to life. We receive a lot of interest from folks who see the words ‘sports’ and ‘news’ in our brand names and assume they’re going to cover games or political beats. They quickly discover that that’s not what we do nor are we interested in doing it.
If you follow us on social media, have visited our website or receive our newsletters, you’ve likely seen us promoting openings with the brand. I’ve even bought ads on Indeed, and been lucky enough to have a few industry folks share the posts on social. We’re in a good place and trying to make our product better, so to do that, we need more help. But over the past two months, Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.
Receiving applications from folks who don’t have a firm grasp of what we do is fine. That happens everywhere. Most of the time we weed those out. It’s no different than when a PD gets an application for a top 5 market hosting gig from a retail employee who’s never spoken on a microphone. The likelihood of that person being the right fit for a role without any experience of how to do the job is very slim. What’s been puzzling though is seeing how many folks reach out to express interest in opportunities, only to discover they’re not prepared, not informed or not even interested in the role they’ve applied for.
For instance, one applicant told me on a call ‘I’m not interested in your job but I knew getting you on the phone would be hard, and I figured this would help me introduce myself because I know I’m a great host, and I’d like you to put me on the radar with programmers for future jobs.’ I had another send a cover letter that was addressed to a different company and person, and a few more applied for FT work only to share that they can’t work FT, weren’t interested in the work that was described in the position, didn’t know anything about our brand but needed a gig, were looking for a confidence boost after losing a job or they didn’t have a computer and place to operate.
At first I thought this might be an exclusive issue only we were dealing with. After all, our brand and the work we do is different from what happens inside of a radio or TV station. In some cases, folks may have meant well and intended something differently than what came out. But after talking to a few programmers about some of these things during the past few weeks, I’ve been stunned to hear how many similar horror stories exist. One top programmer told me hiring now is much harder than it was just five years ago.
I was told stories of folks applying for a producer role at a station and declining an offer unless the PD added air time to the position. One person told a hiring manager they couldn’t afford not to hire them because their ratings were tanking. One PD was threatened for not hiring an interested candidate, and another received a resume intended for the competing radio station and boss. I even saw one social example last week of a guy telling a PD to call him because his brand was thin on supporting talent.
Those examples I just shared are bad ideas if you’re looking to work for someone who manages a respected brand. I realize everyone is different, and what clicks with one hiring manager may not with another, but if you have the skills to do a job, I think you’ll put yourself in a better position by avoiding these 5 mistakes below. If you’re looking for other ways to enhance your chances of landing an opportunity, I recommend you click here.
Educate Yourself Before Applying – take some time to read the job description, and make sure it aligns with your skillset and what you’re looking to do professionally before you apply. Review the company’s body of work and the people who work there. Do you think this is a place you’d enjoy being at? Does it look like a job that you’d gain personal and professional fulfillment from? Are you capable of satisfying the job requirements? Could it potentially put you on the path to greater opportunities? If most of those produce a yes, it’s likely a situation to consider.
Proofread Your Email or Cover Letter and Resume – If the first impression you give a hiring manager is that you can’t spell properly, and you address them and their brand by the wrong names, you’re telling them to expect more mistakes if they hire you. Being detail oriented is important in the media business. If this is your introduction to someone and they have a job you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to go through your materials thoroughly before you press send. If you can have someone else put an extra set of eyes on your introduction to protect you from committing a major blunder even better.
Don’t Waste People’s Time – You’d be annoyed if a company put you through a 3-4 week process only to tell you they didn’t see you as a viable candidate right? Well, it works the other way too. If you’re not seriously interested in the job or you’re going into the process hoping to change the job description later, don’t apply. If the fit isn’t right or the financials don’t work, that’s OK. Express that. People appreciate transparency. Sometimes they may even call you back in the future when other openings become available. But if you think someone is going to help you after you wasted their time or lied to them, trust me, they won’t.
Don’t Talk Like An Expert About Things You Don’t Know – Do you know why a station’s ratings or revenue is down? Are you aware of the company’s goals and if folks on the inside are satisfied or upset? Is the hiring manager someone you know well enough to have a candid professional conversation with? If the answers are no, you’re not helping your case by talking about things you don’t have full knowledge of. You have no idea how the manager you’re talking to has been dealing with the challenges he or she is faced with so don’t pretend you do. Just because someone wrote an article about it and you read it doesn’t mean you’re informed.
Use Social Wisely – Being frustrated that you didn’t get a job is fine. Everyone goes through it. Asking your friends and followers for advice on social of how you could’ve made a better case for yourself is good. That shows you’re trying to learn from the process to be better at it next time. But taking to social to write a book report blasting the hiring manager, their brand, and/or their company over a move that didn’t benefit you just tells them they made the right move by not bringing you in. Chances are, they won’t be calling you in the future either.
Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?
How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.
But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?
As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.
Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.
Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.
I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.
What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.
As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.
Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.
But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.
Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.
There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.
I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.