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BSM Writers

Christmas Cards Can be Valuable Career Tools

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I love Christmas time. It is without a doubt my favorite holiday. I like everything that comes along with it: Christmas music (it doesn’t get much better than Darlene Love’s “All Alone on Christmas”), decorations (You should see our December power bill), and giving presents (Yes, I do have a wrapping station in my house. Thank you for asking).

Today though, I want to talk about something that can get you in the Christmas spirit and benefit your career. Sending out Christmas cards can be a tedious process, but it can also be something that opens doors and builds better relationships that benefit your show.

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If you haven’t thought about this yet, it isn’t too late to put together a custom Christmas card. I use TinyPrints every year for our family card. You can also make your cards through a local print shop or even somewhere like Target. Hell, you’ve gotta go there for something anyway, right?

Take a picture of you in the studio, stage something a little bit silly, or put together a collage of the year’s best moments. It really doesn’t matter. You can even get custom cards made with holiday imagery and the show’s logo. The point is, it never hurts to put something physical together that you can put your signature on to say thank you to the people outside of the show that help make it a success.

So who gets these cards? Well, in my experience, there are four groups it never hurts to recognize this time of year.

  • CLIENTS – This is the obvious one, right? Product endorsements, benchmark and element sponsorships, or even just the business that airs spots on your show once an hour, they all help keep the show on the air. They probably have a hand in paying for whatever gifts you have to buy this year too. Make them feel appreciated and there’s a good chance they will be spending that same money on your show next year too.
  • REGULAR GUESTS – Your listeners are coming to your show for you. That cannot be overstated. But the regular guests are part of the show in their minds. Take some time to thank the athletes, coaches, writers, and anyone else who makes your show appointment listening for so many.
  • LOCAL TEAMS – The coaches and players may be the ones that get the headlines and show up on your air, but it is the PR folks, the media directors, and the SIDs that are really fueling your machine. Plus, those teams are generating so much of the content on your rundown each day. Take a moment to let them know that even if you aren’t always complimentary, you recognize that the local sports community is a small one and that it isn’t lost on you the value each member of the community has to each other.
  • YOUR MOST LOYAL LISTENERS – They might be the ones that respond to every Tweet or Instagram post you put up. They may be the prize pigs. Whoever they are, they are the ones singing your praises in the streets. Ask an intern or someone in the promotions department to track down their addresses and let them know how much their passion for your product means to you.

If your station sends out cards to clients, you might be tempted to ask for a few to send to the other groups I have mentioned on this list. That is fine, but it won’t have the emotional payoff that a card straight from you or your show will. That tells the recipient that he or she in particular is valued by you in particular. It is a much more personal connection.

You work hard during the year. I get that, and I am certainly not trying to add more to your plate than it can hold. I am trying to help you see the big picture. The show with clients, broadcast partners, and listeners singing its praises is the one management feels the most need to protect. Signing and addressing cards can be time consuming, but there is a payoff to it.

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“Tis the season of giving,” as they say. So, make it a season where you give recognition to those that give you content, loyalty, and in some cases, cash.

BSM Writers

Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content

Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.

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USA Today

When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.

“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.

Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:

1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”

2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.

The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.

I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.

Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”

There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.

First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.

The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.

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One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!

We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.

When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.

They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.

A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74

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This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.

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