Good hosts and shows aren’t struggling for content right now, but who knows how long it will be before we get live sports again? Sure, the NFL Draft is coming up, but do you know what you’re going to do once the stories generated by that event have run their course? Hell, we’ll have been without sports for nearly a month and a half at that point.
We’re all in this together, right? That’s why Barrett Sports Media has created a content grab bag and we’re asking everyone to pitch in.
Got an idea that can help someone else? Do you have a perfect bit in mind, but maybe your situation has changed and now you have nowhere to pull it off? Don’t let it go to waste! If you want to contribute, reach out to Demetri Ravanos on Twitter.
This week, Carrington Harrison is contributing to the grab bag. The afternoon drive host for 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City is one of the most creative minds in the format. Rather than work out the details of a single idea, Carrington opens up his entire playbook to give hosts a range of options to inject some creativity into their show and find ways to utilize nostalgia to create new content.
First off, this period should excite you. I remember Bomani Jones saying in a podcast “I got into this business to talk” We know have the freedom to talk about whatever we want. From a content creation standpoint, that’s exciting to me. There’s no edict from the bosses or the listenership to “Shut up and stick to sports!” when the show breaks off into a fun conversation about a random topic or pop culture.
This is a time to experiment and try new things. There’s no penalty and stepping outside the box; your audience will appreciate it and you can possibly stumble across a few bits you like and appreciate but there’s no reason not to loosen up and take the chance right now.
Here’s a few bits/things that have worked for our show:
There’s ways to talk about the virus without being a scientist or having a deep discussion. The same way we spin off sports topics into lighthearted conversations, this is no different. We take the macro and break it down all the time into content that’s enjoyable for the audience. This should be no different.
We’ve started a bit called “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong” based on the classic Chappelle’s Show skit where we find stories based on people not taking this serious enough so whether it’s the college kid at Spring Break who say he’s not worried or the brothers in Tennessee who stockpiled supplies and ultimately had to give them away, we can discuss them as quick hitter sport topics. These are all 5-7 minutes back and forths you can have touching the biggest story in the world in a non serious and fun way.
One game, we tried was Google Feud. The concept of the game is you get the top 5 search results on Google and play 3 rounds of Family Feud. I went on Google Trends and found 3 separate names (we used Tom, Patrick, Michael) and what their top 5 results were to use as the answers to the game, had the music going in the back and played drops throughout for right and wrong answers. It’s an easy game the audience can play along with. It went really well. It’s something we will likely try again but this week has been different with the NFL Draft.
Last thing, get people to tell stories. Now is the time to get coaches to come on and talk about a classic game or an all-time great player. We’ve started a series with Denny Matthews who is the Hall of Fame voice of the Kansas City Royals. We pick a player each week and he will tell us classic stories about a different Royals great.
Every city has a legendary broadcaster, great coach, former great players, etc. If TV networks are playing up nostalgia, why not us? You can go back in time without simply podding up an old game. Get them to tell you the stories. Who is someone in your contacts who played with Bo Jackson? Who was on the team during McGwire’s chase? Is there anyone that played with Joe Montana? If you find those stories cool as a sports fan, the audience will too.
The biggest thing during all this is making sure you and your team is all on the same page and of one accord. We are all in different places and have a million things going on right now but remember we are all in the same situation. Brainstorm ideas, work together and communicate what everyone’s role is and what everyone is working on and despite not having any sports, you can do some really quality work and have fun.
Mike Greenberg Asked a Fine Question, But He Can Do Better
Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.
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.
Media Noise – Episode 74
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.
The Client Just Said YES, Now What?
We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.
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.