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What Can Sports Radio Learn From Squid Game?

“Netflix saw a wave and realized that it was time to surf. You have to do the same!”

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Let me say this right off the top. I have not seen Squid Game. My wife and I have both said that we want to see what the hype is about, but it is really hard for me to watch dubbed movies and TV shows because the out-of-sync nature between what I am seeing and what I am hearing gives me a headache. So far, it has been easy not to want to get started, although I am sure I will eventually.

Should fashion play with Squid Game? | Vogue Business
Courtesy: Netflix

I started thinking about this topic because of a conversation I had with a program director last week. I told him that it was shocking how few show promos he ran on his station. Didn’t he want to highlight reasons for listeners to come back and check out the station at other times of the day? That’s marketing 101!

He cited the Netflix. “If content is good, people will find it. Look at Squid Game. It’s good. People started saying it was good and other people went and watched it. That was more important than any commercial for the show.”

The idea that people will just naturally be drawn to good content has been proven false so many times that I genuinely wonder how people say that line with a straight face anymore. Great shows fail on TV and radio all of the time. Quality is an afterthought to marketing. The best-selling album of all time is The Eagles’ Greatest Hits. What more proof do you need than that?

Credit where it is due, Squid Game really is a surprise hit for Netflix. The show is about a game where desperate people are given the chance to play children’s games for money. If they succeed, they could win billions. If they fail, they are killed. It is a show that various studios around the world had passed on for decades. As the Wall Street Journal described it, “Squid Game is the dystopian hit no one wanted—until everyone did.”

Now, let’s talk about what actually happened. Netflix had a model it could follow. Just like Squid Game, Tiger King was a wild ass story that no one was really looking for. Then all of the sudden, people saw it, tweeted about it, posted memes, made jokes on late night TV and suddenly, Tiger King was everywhere.

Word of mouth marketing should only ever be a jumping off point. For studios and stations and whoever else that knows what they are doing, it will never be the entire strategy. Do you think all of these stories popping up about Squid Game are an accident or born totally out of interest in the show? No! Netflix has a large team of very good PR agents sending emails and making phone calls to networks and publications asking if they would like to do a story on the show or talk to its creator and stars.

Netflix saw a wave and realized that it was time to surf. You have to do the same! If you see or hear that you have a great product, that is more than enough reason to double down on the promos with the details of who these people are and when they are on the air.

Audiences won’t always find what is good, because what is good is subjective. What if someone that might really love your show was only exposed to it for a moment and thought what they heard was boring? Are you really okay letting a single impression be the only impression?

Last year, I looked at five states and how they dictated the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election in a distinct way. My message was every victory happens for a reason and it is important to understand why. Squid Game is no different and it is important that hosts, producers and programmers understand how it has become a sensation.

Squid Game is a totally original thing. This isn’t something based on an old movie or a toy from the 80s. The story didn’t come from a comic book or a series of novels with a huge, built-in fanbase. The love for this show is based on this show. It has themes that audiences connect with and tension to give us the dopamine hit we crave and are willing to come back for over and over again.

No one is going to tell you that a well-constructed piece of entertainment will not win people over. You can follow Squid Game’s lead and build something original and valuable by following a playbook. Book big name guests to give listeners reason to show up. Be creative and funny in the escapism you create for your audience. Connect with them through shared local experiences.

Maybe the most important lesson of Squid Game is to be where they are when they want you. Is your content easy to find and available on-demand? That is pretty damn important in 2021.

What I will tell you is that if you have a show hosted by entertaining people that know how to satisfy an audience, you should put effort into making sure the audience knows that show exists. If you don’t view promoting content as important as creating it, you can’t ever maximize your audience.

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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