Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl is no longer something that happens like clockwork, but at age 43 it still happens. And it has happened more often than we have seen anyone else win the game, so it is fair to call Tom and his victories our standard, a sort of sports talk measuring stick.
Here we are, the morning after another Brady Super Bowl victory, this one with a brand new team, and I am here to implore you not to fall into a trap that is right there for lazy sports talk talent to fall into today.
Please be creative. Do not use Brady’s seventh Super Bowl victory as an excuse to have the GOAT conversation. It is the sports media’s most boring use of the airwaves, the topic that screams “I don’t want to try today!”.
We measure players in a lot of sports by how they perform on the biggest stage. There is something about a quarterback though that compels us to measure the position exclusively by how many titles the player there has produced. It is why we stopped asking “is Tom Brady really better than Joe Montana?” a long time ago and now just accept that he is as a foregone conclusion. And look, I’m not here to argue that isn’t the case. Seven Super Bowl titles and being named MVP of the game five times is plenty of evidence that it is indeed true.
What I am asking today is that we not use another skin on Tom Brady’s wall as reason to dive into some of the tired, stupid conversations that I know a lot of you are thinking would make for great content today.
“If Super Bowls are what matter, then who had a better career – Trent Dilfer/Brad Johnson/Mark Rypien or Dan Marino?”
“Who is the NBA’s Tom Brady – MJ or LeBron?”
“What does this title do for Brady’s legacy now that he has a championship without Belichick?”
There are better conversations to be had today. The following are all free agents as of March: Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, Ndamukong Suh, Shaq Barrett, Leonard Fornette. How about asking if the Bucs are going to be able to sustain greatness or are we going to remember Super Bowl LV as a mercenary title and Brady’s career in Tampa as a sort of “one hit wonder”?
You want to tie this into the NBA? Okay, check out this Tweet from Mike Taylor of Ticket 760 in San Antonio.
Forget LeBron vs. MJ. You want to have a GOAT debate? How about Brady vs. MJ? Guess which one doesn’t have seven rings. Is Tom Brady at the point now where we have to start saying that he is more than just the greatest QB of all time? Do we need to seriously ask ourselves if he is the single greatest American athlete ever? I don’t think that’s true, but I also don’t think the premise is insane.
Those are just two jumping off points. I am not saying they are the specific routes you should be taking today. My point in bringing up those examples is that there is a lot of material that has not been beaten to death even when we are faced with the same situation the morning after the Super Bowl that we have been so many times before.
You earned your job on air or as a producer by showing your creativity. Maybe you are funny. Maybe you think differently or strategically. Today is a day to show that off. Everyone on every show across the country is talking about Tom Brady and Super Bowl LV today. Creativity and not just going with your first idea because it is easier than thinking of a second one is what will make your show stand out in an ocean of GOAT takes.
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.
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.
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.
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.