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The Producer’s Playbook: Relationship Building

“The low risk/high reward model offered in appropriately utilizing social media to expand your professional network will yield significant results.”

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This is a lesson that could easily be applied to guest booking, and will absolutely be included in that portion—however, the focus here is the relationships that you have created from within the vast network of resources that make up the sports media production community itself.

This is a competitive industry, but your relationships with others in the sports media world are the most undervalued and overlooked resource available to sports producers. I like to remind myself that you can learn something new from any and every one. Jackie Joyner Kersee definitely said it more eloquently: “I maintained my edge by always being a student; you will always have something new to learn.” 

Jackie Joyner-Kersee Biography: Olympic Athlete

This is a philosophy that is fundamental to your personal and professional growth. 

The sports media industry has two or three degrees of separation, maximum, inside its small community, making it imperative to put yourself out there and be willing to connect with others in the industry (remember this when an encounter with a program director at a BSM Summit leads to a job opportunity years later). 

There are so many wonderfully talented people I have been able to rely on for an honest opinion and career advice in general. The low risk/high reward model offered in appropriately utilizing social media to expand your professional network will yield significant results. 

So, I thought it would be fitting to kick off the The Producer’s Playbook series by reaching out to three amazing producers to ask what advice they had for others in the industry. Use their advice below as a reference for the next time you’re feeling stuck, conflicted or looking for motivation—the wisdom shared by these three will inspire you to open up Facebook and join Barrett Sports Media’s Sports Producer group.

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Jon Goulet, producer of The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Fox Sports Radio, FS1 and iHeartRadio shares the importance of opening the line of communication with hosts even more.

Jon Goulet (@JonGoulet) | Twitter

“Don’t be afraid to push back on your host.  If you aren’t getting into arguments or disputes somewhat regularly with the host then you aren’t doing your job right.  Hosts like producers that agree with everything that they say.  They respect producers that make them and their shows better.”

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Roy Bellamy, one of the brilliant producers on the ESPN Radio team, producer of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz shares his advice for sports producers and has some tips for how to stand out from the competition.

Roy Bellamy (@roybelly) | Twitter

“It’s a business that’s all about who you know. So that means the way to put your foot in the door is to be seen and to be heard on a consistent basis. Emails, demos, going out to remotes constantly, being at industry conventions, going to radio remotes, etc. Look into joining groups like the National Association of Black Journalists or whatever group that appeals to you. Gain a mentor. Someone that will offer sage advice that you may have looked over,” says Bellamy.  

“Anything that you can do to have your face stand out from the crowd and your voice above all others…you do. By any means necessary, be a pest.

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Dustin Swedelson, producer of The Wrap with Patrick Meagher on Mad Dog Sports Radio on SiriusXM, weighs in with his advice for producers, what they need to bring to the table and their role in sports radio.

Dustin Swedelson on Twitter: "On @TheWrapRadio right now… "

“Be a chameleon. Every host is different in their approach. Part of your job is to balance them out. Some hosts are very creative and may need you to be more structured. Others are organized but may need you to bring unique segments to the table. Some have great opinions but need you to add  interesting guests to the conversation.

If they’re serious you can help inject some fun. If they’re funny then you can add some seriousness. Whatever your host does best you should try and compliment them in areas that don’t come naturally for them,” Swedelson explains.

“This could be a daily challenge or it could be long term and part of your relationship. The key for you as a producer is to always work on all these skills so that when the time comes for you to need to ‘change your color,’ it happens easily.”

You can connect with all three of these talented guys on social media—follow them on Twitter @JonGoulet, @roybelly and @dustinswedelson for additional examples of their style, wisdom and humor. 

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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