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Gordon Borrell Gets The Radio Business…and So Do I

Jason Barrett

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If you work in a sports radio programming department, chances are you haven’t heard of Borrell Associates. They’re a local media research outfit fronted by Gordon Borrell. Gordon’s resume includes VP of new media for Landmark Communications, helping to establish the first TV, newspaper, cable and network TV websites which he later split up and sold to Earthlink and the Gannett Company, and being a sought-after speaker and media industry analyst, often quoted in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Ad Age, Forbes, etc.

I’ve never met Gordon but have read a number of his thoughts on our industry and find them fascinating. Many are similar to my own. If you haven’t had a chance to read his interview with Forbes, I strongly urge you to do so. It hit many of the notes that I just touched on in Chicago when speaking to a room full of sports radio programmers.

Among the highlights that grabbed my attention were his comments on the industry needing to find a clear vision for the “new” industry that it’s looking to create. Borrell says that vision should involve being part of a bigger business than terrestrial radio and creating a marketing powerhouse.

Included in that analysis was radio’s inability to sell the right products. He said the industry is heavily reliant on website banner ads and spots in their streaming, neither of which is in high demand by advertisers. To produce solid digital revenue the radio industry must offer other digital services that more directly complement radio campaigns.

What I love about those comments is that I just stood before some of the brightest minds in the format and when I asked which brands were selling merchandise, none were doing so. I informed the group that Clay Travis, Craig Carton, and Crossing Broad were all selling products on their websites. The WWE makes merchandising a critical part of their business strategy. Bleacher Report partners with StubHub to sell tickets. Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini says merchandise represents a third of their business, and if sports gambling gets legalized, it’s likely that sports betting brands will accept bets thru their apps, websites and phone lines.

Speaking of Barstool, they provided my favorite example. If a New York sports radio fan wants to show off their admiration for Mike Francesa, guess where they purchase a ‘Numbah One’ or ‘Can’t Spell Francesa without FAN’ t-shirt? Barstool’s website. WFAN? Sorry, they’re not available.

RedBubble also sells a Francesa ‘Mount Rushmore’ shirt. In fact, I went on The Fan’s website last night and guess which ad showed up at the top of their page? RedBubble’s did. The company is promoting the Francesa shirt and reaching its most likely customer (The WFAN listener) by buying banner ads which appear on The Fan’s website. That’s a smart move by RedBubble, but it also highlights a missed opportunity for The Fan.

One brand I observed recently which did a nice job and was on the right track but still missed out on larger opportunities was KFAN in Minneapolis. The Minnesota sports station sold custom t-shirts at the Minneapolis State Fair and from all indications they were popular. KFAN has sold shirts at the state fair for a number of years now. Except when the fair was over, they didn’t continue making those products available for purchase on their website.

What’s the downside to allowing people who didn’t attend the fair to continue purchasing your product? If the demand is strong, why not sell them all the time? In addition to generating additional revenue, the brand also receives free marketing. Isn’t that the point?

Ask yourself this, why are your radio station’s airwaves valuable enough for advertisers to purchase time on to sell products but not good enough to sell your own? You sell content every time your hosts speak. You sell podcasts, social media pages, events, games, etc. All of these items are given promotional time because they’re seen as a benefit to the audience. Why we wouldn’t capitalize on merchandise too is beyond my level of comprehension.

And before you get defensive and tell me “it costs money to create shirts, cups, hats, etc.” let me remind you that there are local and national services available where you only pay for products once they’re ordered. You also have digital and marketing people inside your buildings creating website and social media images and powerpoint presentations to help your sellers look good on client pitches. There’s no reason logos, slogans, catchphrases and on-air incidents can’t be turned into slick looking products sold on your platforms.

It’s pretty simple, if there’s no demand, you don’t place an order. But having them readily available and promoting them across your brand’s platforms should be a no-brainer. The last time I checked, radio was looking behind every door to find new money. Whether you make 25K or 250K thru merchandising, I don’t think we can afford to not take advantage of it.

Borrell also mentioned digital advertising and that’s a hot button issue for me. I see stations bombard their websites with banner ads, creating bad user experiences and nothing productive for the client. It’s happening on social media too. Scroll thru a station’s Facebook or Twitter page and look at how they promote a sponsor. It’s often an image of the client, a few sentences of text talking about something that has zero value to the person following the brand, and do you know what it produces? Minimal likes, shares and engagement.

Now put yourself in the advertiser’s shoes. The rep walks in touting their ratings, personalities and social media following, looking for you to renew. Except when you review the five social posts that went up promoting your company, you discover that the audience didn’t like you enough to respond, share or even press the thumbs up button. That not only makes you question the page’s value, but it can be embarrassing too. I’d be asking “is my brand that big of a turnoff to your listeners?”

What should you be doing? Creating branded content. Involving your talent in unique ways to make the client look good. Check out this example of Patrick “Seton” O’Connor of the Dan Patrick Show. Or this one from Barstool Sports. There’s also this one by Cricket Wireless which was a massive hit.

The bottom line, if you think recording a video endorsement or putting an ad on a social page is going to entice people, good luck. You’ve got to be creative. Try that approach with a tire dealer who’s looking to offer a discount on a new set of tires and nobody will care. Involve your talent in a video where they’re changing tires, competing against one another and having fun busting the chops of the mechanics inside of the garage and people remain interested. That interest becomes conversation which inspires the client to continue buying your brand.

The next piece of feedback that Borrell offered was radio needing to understand that its role isn’t to sell spots but to leverage all the marketing tools at its disposal–spots, events, digital advertising, and marketing services — to help its customers sell products and services. If the industry doesn’t adjust Borrell warns that it won’t be able to grow and thrive.

I don’t disagree one bit. One of my biggest concerns is radio’s failure to adapt in a rapidly changing environment. This is often due to the industry’s ‘proceeding with caution’ mentality and fear of not hitting the bottom line.

Think about it, how long did it take before your operation started hiring digital and social media content creators? Some of you may still have only one person trying to tackle the work for 3-4 brands. If you talk to sports teams, digital businesses or other media operators, there are groups dedicating 5-10 people just on the social/digital experience alone. That’s what it takes to excel and position yourself for future success.

When was the last time you created and monetized a huge ticketed event? Wing Bowl and Ticket Stock are two great examples of stations spending money to make money, but most brands don’t roll the dice that way. Do you think ESPN barters everything to execute the ESPYS? If you want to create impact and non-traditional revenue from buzzworthy events then you have to invest dollars in making those events worthy of buzz.

The final part of Borrell’s interview which I want to weigh in on were his points on radio’s biggest threat being myopic leadership. He said the business is in a period of remarkable growth and opportunity, yet so many leaders believe their job is to defend “radio.” Rather than investing time worrying about the industry’s defense, a better approach would be to spend more time and energy pursuing growth opportunities.

Those opportunities include dashboards, podcasts, and smart speakers, which some industry folks have considered to be threats. Borrell doesn’t believe they are. He continued by noting that industry leaders spend too much energy trying to hold onto their hairy-eared listeners and not enough time trying to figure out how to reach the pink-eared ones.

From where I sit, there’s never been a better time to be in the audio business. People are listening to millions of pieces of content each day. Whether it’s consumed live or on-demand thru a phone, computer, tablet, smart speaker or car stereo is besides the point. It’s the industry’s problem to figure out how to measure it but the enthusiasm for the content is there. I’d much rather walk into a client’s office with a huge splintered audience across multiple platforms than without one.

However, Borrell is exactly right about smart speakers, podcasts and digital dashboards being opportunities, not threats. The reason they’re not warmly embraced is because we tend to ease into things rather than leading the charge. I’m sure NBC, FOX, the NFL and YouTube would’ve preferred sticking to their prior ad models but when audience consumption patterns change, brands must respond.

That requires more training, recruiting, experimenting, and strategic adjusting. It can also mean a financial setback in the short-term to maximize long-term growth. You can get upset by the way the world’s changing, but if you want to avoid becoming Blockbuster Video, a Taxi company, the Newspaper or the next “going out of business” retail outlet, you better read the signs and take action or you’ll pay for it.

Here’s a good lesson. Take a few minutes today and use your smart speaker to listen to a few sports stations. Ask for the host/show names, specific content or even the brand name itself. You’d be surprised by how many stations don’t even come up by their actual name. I’ve been using a smart speaker for the past year and you’d be stunned by how how hard it is to even locate some brands, not to mention, the amount of times where I’m led to listen to stations via TuneIn or iHeartradio instead of the station’s app.

What if your brand uses the moniker The Fan, The Game, ESPN Radio or FOX Sports Radio in its branding. Do you know how many stations exist with those names? What do you think is going to happen when the listener says “Alexa, play The Fan”? They’re going to be sent to whichever station Alexa recognizes first. It’s no different than a Google search. You don’t want to appear on Page 3. The more complicated it becomes (trying to find stations by call letters, cities, website addresses, etc.) to find you, the quicker the audience moves on to something else.

As far as myopic leadership is concerned, I think it’s unfair to place all managers and companies under one umbrella because they’re not all the same. I’ve been fortunate to work with some outstanding leaders and groups, and I’ve encountered a few bad apples too, especially since launching BSM two and a half years ago.

I do become puzzled when I interact with an executive or market manager and they ask for a favor or information, and I reach out afterwards and they can’t even take a few minutes to respond to an email or call. That’s even more likely to occur if the mere mention of doing business together comes up. In this small world of radio where relationships matter, people talk, and your reputation is everything, I think that’s a bad way of operating. Guess what happens when they reach out again asking me for another favor? I stop helping.

One of our industry’s biggest challenges is failing to adjust our viewpoints. Many are consumed by numbers, set in their ways, and see the world thru the inside of their hallways rather than from the outside looking in. They reject the social space because it’s a tougher sell, even though it’s where their audience lives. They turn a blind eye towards diversity and youth development because it requires doing things differently. Mention the idea of charging for digital content and you’re hit with the old school response “people expect radio to be free.”

Because of that logic, 13% of M-F hosting roles in top 20 markets are occupied by minority voices. We ignore the fact that 38% of those cities are populated by minority people, and when you look at the makeup of listening (92% ‘Other’/White and 8% Black/Hispanic) you can see where the growth opportunities lie.

Let me share one of my favorite examples. If you ask an executive what I do, they’ll say “he’s a consultant.” Ask them what that entails and they’ll list off the same description of what consultants did 10-20 years ago. Their impression is that I sit in my office, listen to the radio, analyze the ratings and give advice on content and how to increase numbers.

That’s certainly part of the job, but there’s much more to it than that. I’m a mentor, influencer, connector, teacher, analyst, creator and researcher. If you asked the room of people who spent time with me last week in Chicago, they’d tell you I explored a lot more than just clocks, content and ratings. I traveled to visit with a client this past September for 2-3 days and that entire trip had zero to do with their brand’s on-air execution and everything to do with digital/social analysis and strategy.

My point is that it’s a different world and it requires expanding your horizons.

Along those lines, the idea of charging for digital content may feel awkward because we’re so conditioned to giving it all away, but that shouldn’t deter you from considering it, especially if the audience demand is high for your programming. Good Karma in Cleveland wasn’t afraid to take the risk. Neither was The Athletic. Or ESPN. Or Barstool. Or Bleacher Report. Or the multiple TV and print outlets calling on their fans to help fund their efforts.

I don’t know about you, but I pay $10 per month for the WWE Network and never have buyer’s remorse. I feel the same way about subscribing to The Athletic and Radio Ink. My fiance pays for Netflix and Amazon Prime and is more than satisfied with what she receives each month.

When you add up the amount of hours and resources put into creating digital content and the return on investment associated with it, most brands struggle to turn a profit. It’s why we’re living with an antiquated system of airing 14-20 minutes of commercials per hour on our stations. We’d rather have 100,000 listeners paying zero instead of 10,000 listeners paying $5-$10 per month.

But is that audience truly valuable if it isn’t monetized? We can blame the sales team for not selling it but if demand for your content is high, why wouldn’t you charge for it? What’s better, 10,000 paying supporters or 100,000 free ones that provide no financial impact?

The world is constantly evolving. The user is in control and willing to pay for premium content and experiences. They’ll buy your podcast if it’s unique. They’ll purchase your merchandise and market your brand without needing to be asked. They’ll buy tickets to your events if you make them worthwhile. They’ll also reject your attempts to push things at them in an intrusive way.

Between Gordon Borrell and myself, you’ve been given plenty to think about. I should be taking my own advice and charging you just for reading this. But since I’m a nice guy, I’ll just wait for that follow up call or email that I’m sure you’ve been working on. Since the likelihood of that happening though isn’t very high, I’ll just settle for a free t-shirt or podcast subscription.

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media Announces 3 Additions, Social Media Changes

“Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.”

Jason Barrett

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It’s taken years of hard work, adjustments, and a whole lot of trial and error to turn this brand into a trusted source for industry professionals. It’s been exciting and rewarding to tell stories, highlight the industry, and use my decades worth of knowledge and relationships to help the brands I work with make progress. But while I may prioritize the work I do for others, I’ve also got to balance it with making sure BSM and BNM run smoothly.

Each day, Barrett Media produces nearly fifty social posts, one to two newsletters, and twenty to thirty sports and news media stories and columns. I didn’t even mention podcasts, which is another space we recently entered. Making sure we’re delivering quality not quantity is vital, and so too is promoting it consistently and creatively.

Today, we have thirty people on our payroll. I never expected that to be the case, but as needs have increased and deeper bonds have been formed between the brand, our audience, and our clients, it’s allowed us to find new ways to invest in delivering insight, information, and opinion to our readers. Writing, editing, and creating content for a brand like ours isn’t for everyone. I just spent the past three months interviewing nearly forty people, and there’s a lot of quality talent out there. But talent for radio and journalism doesn’t always mean the fit is right for BSM and BNM. Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.

First, please join me in welcoming Garrett Searight to BSM and BNM. Garrett has been hired as our FT Brand Editor, which means he will oversee BSM and BNM’s website’s content M-F during normal business hours. He will work closely with yours truly, our nighttime editors Arky Shea and Eduardo Razo, and our entire writing teams to create content opportunities for both of our brands. Garrett joins us after a decade long stint in Lima, OH where he most recently worked as program director and afternoon host at 93.1 The Fan. He also programmed classic country station 98.5 The Legend. His first day with us is August 1st, but he’ll be training this month to make sure he’s ready to hit the ground running.

Next, I am excited to welcome Alex Reynolds as our Social Media Coordinator. Alex’s creativity and curiosity stood out during our interview process, and we’re excited to have him helping with social content creation and scheduling for BSM and BNM. He’s a graduate of Elon University, a big fan of lacrosse, and he’ll be working with Dylan Barrett to improve our graphic creation, schedule our content, and further develop the social voice for both of our brands.

Speaking of our two brands, though we produce content on the website for both sports and news, how they get promoted on social is changing. When I started this company, the website was known as SportsRadioPD.com. That worked perfectly with my Twitter and Instagram handles, which were also @sportsradiopd. But since we switched our URL to BarrettSportsMedia.com and started ramping up content for both sports and news it’s become clear that we needed dedicated brand pages. It’s harder to expect people to share an individual’s content, and the mix of sports and news often feels off-brand to the two different audiences we serve. It feels even stranger if I’m buying social media ads to market content, a conference, and other things, so it’s time to change things up.

Starting today, you can now follow Barrett Sports Media on Twitter @BSMStaff. You can also follow Barrett News Media on Twitter @BNMStaff. Each brand also has its own Facebook page. Moving forward, we will promote sports media content on our sports accounts, and news media content on our news accounts. We started with that approach for BNM when the brand launched in September 2020, but expecting people to read another site and follow other social accounts was a tall order for a brand that was finding its footing. We made a choice to promote both sports and news under the same social accounts for the past year in order to further grow awareness for the content, and as we stand today, I think many would agree that BNM has made great strides. We’ve built a kick ass team to cover the news media industry, and I’m hoping many of you will take a moment to give BNM’s pages a follow to stay informed.

One thing you will notice is that the @BSMStaff account has replaced the @sportsradiopd account on Twitter. Let’s face it, most people who have followed me on Twitter have done so for BSM or BNM’s content, not for my NY Knicks and pro wrestling rants. I am keeping my @sportsradiopd handle but that is being developed as a brand new personal account. That said, if you enjoy sending DM’s my way, give the new @sportsradiopd account a follow so we can stay in touch. The only account we will use to promote content from both brands under is the Barrett Media account on LinkedIn. Instagram is not a focus right now nor is TikTok or Snapchat. I realize audiences exist everywhere but I’d rather be great at a few things than average at a lot of them.

Now that we’ve tackled the social media changes, let me share another exciting piece of news. I’m thrilled to welcome Jessie Karangu to our brand as a BSM weekly columnist. Jessie has great energy, curiosity, and a genuine love and passion for the media industry. He’s worked for Sinclair television, written for Awful Announcing, and has also hosted podcasts and video shows on YouTube. His knowledge and interest in television is especially strong, and I’m looking forward to featuring his opinions, and perspectives on our website. His debut piece for the site will be released this Wednesday.

With all of this happening, Demetri Ravanos is shifting his focus for the brand to a space he’s passionate about, audio. His new title is BSM’s Director of Audio Content. This means he will be charged with overseeing the editing, execution, and promotion of our various podcasts. He will also work closely with me in developing future Barrett Media shows. We have 3 in weekly rotation now, and will be adding Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves next week, and The Jason Barrett Podcast the week after that. The goal is to increase our audio library in the future provided the right ideas, talent, and interest are there.

Another goal of mine moving forward is to grow our advertising partnerships. Between our website, social media channels, podcasts, and newsletters, we have many ways to help brands connect to an affluent, influential, and loyal industry audience. We’ve enjoyed working with and helping brands over the years such as Point to Point Marketing, Jim Cutler NY, Steve Stone Voiceovers, Core Image Studio, Skyview Networks, Compass Media Networks, ESPN Radio and Harker Bos Group. That doesn’t include all of the great sponsors we’ve teamed up with for our annual BSM Summit (2023’s show will be announced by the end of the summer). I’m excited to add to the list by welcoming Backbone as a new website and newsletter partner. We’re also looking forward to teaming up in the near future with Quu and the Sports Gambling Podcast Network, and hope to work with a few others we’ve had recent dialogue with.

When it comes to marketing, I try to remind folks of our reach, the value we add daily across the industry, and the various ways we can help. I know it’s human nature to stick with what we know but if you work with a brand, I invite you to check into BSM/BNM further. Stephanie Eads is awesome to work with, cares about our partners, and our traffic, social impressions, and most importantly, the quality of our audience is proven. To learn more about what we can do, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Yes we continue to grow, and I’m happy about that, but just because we’re adding head count doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed to be better. It takes every person on a team holding up their end of the bargain, creating killer content, setting expectations, and paying attention to the follow through. We take pride in our work, value the support of our partners, and are extremely thankful for the continued readership of our material. That consistent support is what allows me to add to our team to better serve fans, partners, and industry professionals.

It may seem small, and unimportant but those retweets, comments, and mentions on the air about our content makes a difference. To all who take the time to keep our industry conversations alive, thank you. This is an awesome business with a lot of great brands, people, content, and growth opportunities, and the fact that we get to learn from you, share your stories, and help those reading learn in the process makes waking up to do it an honor.

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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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Barrett Blogs

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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