It’s true that most on-air personalities believe the content they create is exceptional. They’re prideful, stubborn, confident, smart, and more times than not, have a good grasp on what the audience expects from them.
They also know what fuels their own personal interests. A programmer may offer specifics of what the audience is looking for, and they’ll nod in agreement and provide lip service to satisfy the request. But, when the light goes on, and the microphone is in front of them, many ignore the facts, and gravitate to what they enjoy talking about most.
If you’re in a building where ratings don’t matter, that might not be a bad thing. Having an on-air personality provide passion through the speakers, and treat the audience to something they’re personally invested in usually works out ok. One can argue that a talk show host who’s emotionally connected to a st ory, offers more value than a talk show host who delivers content that benefits the listener, but not themselves.
A host can be a big baseball fan, but if the market doesn’t have a strong desire for that content, you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight. Some on-air talent use social media to gauge interest in topics, and it can be helpful, but they forget that the feedback isn’t always coming from their audience.
What I’m a believer in is studying the trends.
In my previous stops, I’d have producer’s track the content of every segment, and send it to me at the conclusion of their program. I wanted as detailed of a report as possible, and I’d often go back to the audio on-demand platform on my station’s websites to make sure the content checked out in accordance with the report. If it didn’t, the producer was likely to hear from me.
The reason that’s important, is because if I’m going to sit in front of an on-air talent, and tell them I need more of one thing, and less of another, I’ve got to have a good solid reason for my position. Telling them “I feel something” or “I prefer something” isn’t going to win them over, and gain their trust. Showing them how the content is being received, and how it can put more money in their pockets, does.
In professional sports, scouts, coaches, and team executives spend a large chunk of their time analyzing data. They examine how a hitter responds to different pitches, counts, what their approach is when their team is leading or trailing, and they’ll use the information to create an informed opinion. They then share that feedback with the player to try and help them improve. Assuming they respond to the input and it shows up in their performance, it’s often reflected in the team’s long term commitment.
Now let’s think about that from a radio standpoint.
How many personalities and programmers spend time looking at the data from their shows? I’m not talking about an aircheck session where a programmer plays a piece of audio, offers an opinion on it, and the two sides discuss it. That’s a subjective analysis. Depending on the relationship between the PD and Host, it can either be beneficial, or a waste of time.
What I’m talking about is detailed analysis and coaching. This brings the programmer and on-air team together and puts everyone in position to better understand the vision, what’s working, what isn’t, and what matters most to the audience.
Sometimes talk shows get into a rut. They may follow the same daily routine and not even be aware of it. If there’s little suspense, and the pattern doesn’t take advantage of when people listen or satisfy the audience’s content desires, it can stunt the show’s growth.
When was the last time you looked at the number of guests you include on your program each day? How about the length of those conversations, and the times of when they appeared? Maybe they’re a big part of the show’s success, but then again, maybe they’re getting in the way of it.
Have you ever looked at where you field phone calls in a show? How long they’re on the air with you? What topics they respond to most? Do the ratings suffer or increase when you invite the audience into the program?
What about the content you choose to feature each day and the segments where you provide opinions on it? How does the audience respond when you talk football, baseball, basketball, lifestyle, or other subjects? Do you do a specific feature daily or weekly on a set day and time? Is it working or slowing you down? Is it strategically smart to offer a variety of content to your audience, or would they prefer a heavier focus on 1-2 key subjects?
Every programmer and personality should be aware of these things. If a host wants to connect with an audience, and a programmer wants to win, content evaluations should be done frequently. The information is available. All you have to do is invest the time to study it, understand it, and relay it to your people.
It’s no different than Dusty Baker telling Bryce Harper to look for a fastball on the inside part of the plate on a 2-1 count, because the data says it’ll happen 8 out of 10 times. That research matters. One little tidbit gives the player an edge, and increases their confidence. When they receive knowledge that can help them do their jobs better, they appreciate it. In turn, it makes them more likely to respond to future feedback. They may even notice something you didn’t, which can benefit the entire team.
A few years ago in San Francisco, I tried to push my staff to take more chances talking NFL. There was an internal opinion that Bay Area listeners only followed the 49ers and Raiders, and while the local teams were a priority, the market had a bigger appetite for football than the staff was giving them credit for. Our competitor was also known for leaning heavy on baseball, so this was an opportunity to establish our position as a strong football focused brand.
I went to work to make my case. I pulled ratings of all of our shows talking about NFL subjects that weren’t 49ers or Raiders driven. I looked at the performance of our NFL Play by Play from Westwood One, which included at the time, the highest rated single event ever on the station – a Patriots-Texans playoff game. I highlighted the local market’s interest on television to national football games, the NFL Draft, and talked about the crowds I witnessed on Sunday’s at local bars when a 49ers or Raiders game wasn’t on the air.
To cap it off, I went around the room and asked each staff member to name their favorite football team. Much to my surprise, 90% of the room pledged their allegiance to teams not named the Raiders or 49ers.
After going through that exercise, it was easier for the staff to understand why it should be a bigger part of the radio station’s content strategy. The data and visual evidence supported it, and that made it easier for the group to accept.
Sometimes, we get in our own way. We’ll tell ourselves that we know what the audience wants because we want them to like what we personally care about. If they differ in their opinion, we try to sway them towards our way of thinking, rather than making the adjustments ourselves.
But if the content evaluation process doesn’t take place regularly, and you’re not treated to the information that makes your audience tick, then you’re allowing opportunities to pass you by.
I believe that most on-air talent care about the opinion of their Program Director. They want to please the person they work for, even if they don’t show it. They respond quicker to negative feedback than positive, but deep down, they crave the attention and dialogue. They want to know the PD is listening, invested in the show, supportive of their decision making, and has something of value to add. If they don’t, they shut down quickly.
No matter how many things appear on a programmer’s ‘To Do List’ each day, when they meet with one of their hosts, the talent wants to feel like the only thing that matters is their show. The way the PD guides the meeting and responds to the talent’s questions will determine whether they stay interested or reject further dialogue.
Hosts don’t want to be told to deliver a show the way the programmer would. That’s a remedy for creating a giant divide between the two. But, if a coaching session occurs and specific examples, detailed analysis, and audio evidence is provided to help the talent see something they might be missing, they’ll respond more favorably.
Any person on this planet can tell another “I like that, do more of it” or “That doesn’t work, do less of it”. Explaining and showing why, makes all the difference.
If you’re going to hire a highly opinionated person, and ask them to not follow their natural instincts, it won’t work. The only way the feedback takes shape is if they buy into it. When they see the details, and hear your thoughts, it opens their mind. Once they do it, and gain results, it becomes easier to gain future buy-in.
Once a host trusts your ear, respects your point of view, and knows that you’ve put the time into helping them find a way to connect bigger with the audience, that helps the relationship ascend to a higher level. It affords you an opportunity to create and enjoy future success together. That alone makes doing the research worth it.
For the sake of this piece, I thought I’d provide a content evaluation I did for an on-air talent. I’ve removed the individual’s name, and changed the market, and only included two segments worth of analysis from their show.
When a talent receives something like this either from their Program Director or Producer, it tells them you care about their show and have a grasp on what they’re doing. It’s important to provide positives, as well as constructive criticism because the only way someone improves is when they hear both.
The one thing I’d suggest is to send this to the host after the show. That allows them to keep their on-air focus, and discuss it with you once they’ve had time to disconnect from the program and process the critique. They may not agree with every part of your assessment, but they’ll respond to your analysis, and appreciate you for doing it.
- Red hot out of the gate by proclaiming “The Minnesota Wild are done” – this instantly grabs the audience’s attention on the day when the Wild are facing an elimination game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- You dive right in on hating to be the bearer of bad news, but you believe in being honest, and you see no evidence that supports a way for the Wild to avoid elimination.
- After setting the scene for the game, you give out the # (you’re more than welcome to try and change my mind) and use a good boxing analogy to further establish the point – “the Wild are that fighter that’s getting worn down round after round, and you’re not sure if they’re going to get knocked out early, or hang on to lose by decision, but you know they’re not leaving the ring victorious“.
- GREAT one-liner “The 40 Year Old Virgin is scoring more than the Wild” to emphasize the team’s biggest problems (Let that line hang out there for a second – being in a rush to hit the next point can take away from the impact).
- Nice job using some key stats to paint the picture and support your case (0 goals in 175 of 180 minutes this series – the Wild went 20 mins without a shot last game, and they’re 2 of 26 on the Power Play) – clever line used “stats are like bikinis, they show some things but not all“, and followed up with a dose of truth “even if you want to believe in this team tonight, every key piece of information goes against them – this is why I’m struggling to see a way for them to win.”
- Halfway through you tease NFL Draft/#1 Pick selection in 5 minutes – you’re going to tell the audience what the biggest mistake the Bucs could make with the 1st overall pick – good suspense and topical.
- Back to the Wild elimination game talk, and another quick one liner about Zach Parise being on a milk carton and missing – please alert the authorities if you see him – (these one liners are quick and memorable, just be careful of not overdoing it).
- You offer up the other side of the topic to provide some hope – one thing, be careful about playing both sides of the fence – it’s ok to explain it but reaffirm where you stand. Let the audience offer the other side to counter your position.
- Mid-segment, you offer more analysis on why the Wild are unlikely to prevail and toss to audio of Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo which brings the momentum to a screeching halt (there’s no emotion, opinion, or drama in what he’s saying. If the audio doesn’t fire you up or add something new to the content, skip it – don’t use audio just for the sake of incorporating it).
- Text line response from a listener who’s pissed at you for painting a negative picture in advance of tonight’s playoff game (Bleep You Dude) – funny, and offers you an opportunity to reset and remind people why you don’t see the game turning out well.
- – The content now switches to the NFL Draft (reset here, give your name and remind the audience you’re subbing for the afternoon host) – nice job of setting the scene by sharing how you struggle in life with over-analyzing things, and explaining why the Bucs can’t operate the way you do with this year’s #1 pick.
- GREAT opinion and explanation on why Tampa can’t trade the pick – “if you look at the last 10 teams to win a SB, they all had Top 10 QB’s when they won. 50% of all 1st round picks turn out to be busts. Jameis Winston will be a Top 10 QB. That’s what you need to win. You can offer 4 first round picks & my answer is NO. He’s the best QB prospect the past 10 years not named Andrew Luck. His arrival takes the Bucs to 6-8 wins” – Great confidence & insight, and a relatable subject. Really good content.
- Teasing to break – At 3:30, former Minnesota hockey player Brian Bellows drops by, has his opinion of Zach Parise changed? But coming up next, nobody in Minneapolis realizes how special this could be (good suspense).
- *Try not to tease 2 things heading into a break – people rarely remember both – stick with what’s next. Overall this was an excellent start to the show…..great attention grabber with the opening statement – The Wild Are Done! On the day of a playoff game, you have their attention, even if they dislike the opinion…..you laid out your case for why you feel the way you do, and used facts and color to do so. A lot of it makes sense. Now it’s the audience’s job to poke holes in your theory and try to change your mind.
- Midway through I liked the switch to the NFL Draft and the commentary on why the Bucs can’t consider trading the #1 pick. It was strong. When an audience hears a host say “you can offer 4 1st round picks for the #1 overall pick and the answer is NO, the pick is not for sale” their ears perk up…..that’s gutsy, interesting, and offers room for a strong pro/con discussion on the topic. Given that we’re 1 week away from the NFL Draft and you’re in a football rich market, this will be well received. We can debate if Winston is a Top 10 QB, on the same level with Andrew Luck as a prospect, etc. but that’s what makes it fun. Really interesting topic, laid out well.
- You start off giving the station call letters and your name and dive right into a tweet that criticizes your opinion on the Wild – nice response explaining why you don’t believe they can win tonight (Be sure to reset the topic first before the tweet since people who missed the opening segment know what you’re talking about and can play along.)
- The transition is made to resetting the NFL Draft talk – “the biggest mistake the Bucs can make next week is trading the #1 pick” – no price is high enough to deal it, Jameis Winston is going to be a Top 10 QB, a Ben Roethlisberger clone, and if the Bucs don’t take him, it’ll hurt their franchise for years to come“. One suggestion, although NFL fans follow the entire league, local people care most about the team in their own backyard. Consider how to make this relatable to Vikings fans by pointing out a previous draft blunder they made, and how it impacted them. Then relay how the Bucs passing up Winston would compare. That’s just another way to add an extra layer to the topic.
- Quick Text – what round are the Bucs drafting Jameis’ babysitter? Clever response from the audience, good job responding to it.
- You then take a call from Hugh who adds “you took off your fan cap and put on your radio hat to fire up the audience and get them to call in about the Wild” – After explaining that you don’t do shock jock content, Hugh asks about the top 2 QB’s entering the draft & asks about the hockey spirit and why the Wild are allowing fundamental mistakes to hurt them.
- *** The caller placement in this segment stunted the Jameis topic which could have been gold – the previous tease was about something being special in Tampa – was that about the Bucs/Jameis or something else? Make sure you’re clear so the audience gets a payoff for what they were promised. Don’t leave them to guess, make it easy to play along.
- Good move mentioning that the opinion may be harsh and it might have required some massaging, especially on the day of an elimination game, but maybe I can make it up to you by offering you this – the Minnesota Twins are going to the post-season this year – book it! ***This is a strong opinion, sure to fire up local baseball fans, and it shows that you’re not against the local team’s and their success. Your proclamation gives every local baseball fan the one thing they all crave – hope! I’m guessing this is what the tease was about right?
- That leads you to explaining that people outside of Minneapolis have no idea how good the Twins are. You point out how good their youth is and how they’ve won 6 of 8 despite injuries, and have one of the better young rotations in baseball, and run scoring is a half point higher. Those are all good reasons for explaining why you’re optimistic about them. You then set the scene on the wildcard picture and explain how you believe the Astros will come back to earth, and the other spot up for grabs is a complete crapshoot.
- * If the Twins need to secure 1 of the 2 wildcard spots, tell me how they measure up against the teams that are going to be in contention. How do they going to stack up to the teams in their division and to some of the more formidable teams in the race – Astros, Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Blue Jays, etc. Explain the obstacles in their way, and why they’ll pass those other clubs and prove the experts wrong!
- Tease – Brian Bellows next, is his perception of Zach Parise changing? He tells us next (Very good – one focused item, with a question that leaves the audience thinking).
FOUR KEY TAKEAWAYS:
- Let your bold statements, strongest opinions, and one-liners hang out there for a second – it allows people to process things and ask “What? Did he just say that?” For example, “the 40-year Old Virgin scores more than the Wild”, “If you offer me 4 1st round picks for this #1 pick, I’m not interested”. Both were great, but didn’t have a chance to settle. Let it bake for a second.
- Pay off your teases – they’re excellent going to break, but when you come back they’re not always provided or made clear – it’s not only about teasing content, it’s important to deliver on what you promised too. Not doing it will frustrate your audience. I love what you’re doing to keep them curious. Just make it easier when you return.
- Using Audio – GREAT audio can make a segment, BAD audio can break one. If it doesn’t provide emotion, drama, suspense, humor, or an ounce of information to support or counter your opinion, don’t feel obligated to use it. Think of the soundbite as being a prop in your show. It’s supposed to enhance the overall content experience. If it’s getting in the way of your best material, leave it out.
- Segment 1 vs. 2 – The first one flowed nicely, and offered a mixture of strong opinion, quality information, and humor. You went 7-8 minutes on the lead story, before switching to a secondary topic, which also provided many of the same qualities. It was an excellent start to the program and easy to follow…..now contrast that with your second segment, which started without letting folks know what you were hot on, and then switched into a quick discussion on the #1 pick, a text on that subject, a caller on the NHL playoff game, and conversation on the Twins…..It’s ok to change topics, but make the direction easy for the audience to follow…..if in segment #1 you were on a highway and got off to take a side road to reach your destination, segment #2 you were on a side road, headed back to the highway, got off the next exit, hoped to find an alternate road, stumbled onto one which wound up working out but added time to your trip…..lots of good material, all a matter of connecting the dots to make it easy to process.
Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network
“We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July.”
To run a successful digital content and consulting company in 2022 it’s vital to explore new ways to grow business. There are certain paths that produce a higher return on investment than others, but by being active in multiple spaces, a brand has a stronger chance of staying strong and overcoming challenges when the unexpected occurs. Case in point, the pandemic in 2020.
As much as I love programming and consulting stations to assist with growing their over the air and digital impact, I consider myself first a business owner and strategist. Some have even called me an entrepreneur, and that works too. Just don’t call me a consultant because that’s only half of what I do. I’ve spent a lot of my time building relationships, listening to content, and studying brands and markets to help folks grow their business. Included in my education has been studying website content selection, Google and social media analytics, newsletter data, the event business, and the needs of partners and how to best serve them. As the world of media continues to evolve, I consider it my responsibility to stay informed and ready to pivot whenever it’s deemed necessary. That’s how brands and individuals survive and thrive.
If you look at the world of media today compared to just a decade ago, a lot has changed. It’s no secret during that period that podcasting has enjoyed a surge. Whether you review Edison Research, Jacobs Media, Amplifi Media, Spotify or another group’s results, the story is always the same – digital audio is growing and it’s expected to continue doing so. And that isn’t just related to content. It applies to advertising too. Gordon Borrell, IAB and eMarketer all have done the research to show you where future dollars are expected to move. I still believe it’s smart, valuable and effective for advertisers to market their products on a radio station’s airwaves, but digital is a key piece of the brand buy these days, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Which brings me to today’s announcement.
If you were in New York City in March for our 2022 BSM Summit, you received a program at the show. Inside of one of the pages was a small ad (same image used atop this article) which said “Coming This Summer…The BSM Podcast Network…Stay Tuned For Details.” I had a few people ask ‘when is that happening, and what shows are you planning to create?’ and I kept the answers vague because I didn’t want to box ourselves in. I’ve spent a few months talking to people about joining us to help continue producing quality written content and improve our social media. Included in that process has been talking to members of our team and others on the outside about future opportunities creating podcasts for the Barrett Sports Media brand.
After examining the pluses and minuses, and listening and talking to a number of people, I’m excited to share that we are launching the BSM Podcast Network. We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July. Demetri Ravanos will provide oversight of content execution, and assist with production and guest booking needs for selected pods. This is why we’ve been frequently promoting Editor and Social Media jobs with the brand. It’s hard to pursue new opportunities if you don’t have the right support.
The titles that will make up our initial offerings are each different in terms of content, host and presentation. First, we have Media Noise with Demetri Ravanos, which has produced over 75 episodes over the past year and a half. That show will continue in its current form, being released each Friday. Next will be the arrival of The Sports Talkers Podcast with Stephen Strom which will debut on Thursday June 23rd, the day of the NBA Draft. After that, The Producer’s Podcast with Brady Farkas will premiere on Wednesday June 29th. Then as we move into July, two more titles will be added, starting with a new sales focused podcast Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves. The final title to be added to the rotation will be The Jason Barrett Podcast which yours truly will host. The goal is to have five weekly programs distributed through our website and across all podcasting platforms by mid to late July.
I am excited about the creation of each of these podcasts but this won’t be the last of what we do. We’re already working on additional titles for late summer or early fall to ramp up our production to ten weekly shows. Once a few ideas and discussions get flushed out, I’ll have more news to share with you. I may consider adding even more to the mix too at some point. If you have an idea that you think would resonate with media professionals and aspiring broadcasters, email me by clicking here.
One thing I want to point out, this network will focuses exclusively on various areas of the sports media industry. We’ll leave mainstream sports conversations to the rest of the media universe. That’s not a space I’m interested in pursuing. We’ve focused on a niche since arriving on the scene in 2015 and have no plans to waver from it now.
Additionally, you may have noticed that we now refer to our company as ‘Barrett Media’. That’s because we are now involved in both sports and news media. That said, we are branding this as the BSM Podcast Network because the titles and content are sports media related. Maybe there will be a day when we introduce a BNM version of this, but right now, we’ve got to make sure the first one works right before exploring new territory.
Our commitment to delivering original industry news, features and opinions in print form remains unchanged. This is simply an opportunity to grow in an area where we’ve been less active. I know education for industry folks and those interested in entering the business is important. It’s why young people all across the country absorb mountains of debt to receive a college education. As valuable as those campus experiences might be, it’s a different world once you enter the broadcasting business.
What I’d like to remind folks is that we continue to make investments in the way we cover, consult, and discuss the media industry because others invest in us. It’d be easy to stockpile funds and enjoy a few more vacations but I’m not worried about personal wealth. I’m focused on building a brand that does meaningful work by benefitting those who earn a living in the media industry or are interested in one day doing so. As part of that process I’m trying to connect our audience to partners who provide products, services or programs that can benefit them.
Since starting this brand, we’ve written more than 18,000 articles. We now cover two formats and produce more than twenty five pieces of content per day. The opportunity to play a small role in keeping media members and future broadcasters informed is rewarding but we could not pay people to edit, write, and host podcasts here if others didn’t support us. For that I’m extremely grateful to those who do business with us either as a consulting client, website advertiser, Summit partner or through a monthly or annual membership. The only way to get better is to learn from others, and if our access to information, knowledge, relationships and professional opinions helps others and their brands, then that makes what we do worthwhile.
Thanks as always for the continued support. We appreciate that you read our content each day, and hope to be able to earn some of your listenership in the future too.
5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs
“Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.”
I recently appeared on a podcast, Monetize Media, to discuss the growth of Barrett Media. The conversation covered a lot of ground on business topics including finding your niche, knowing your audience and serving them the right content in the right locations, the evolution of the BSM Summit, and why consulting is a big part of our mix but can’t be the only thing we do.
Having spent nearly seven years growing this brand, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just know what’s worked for us, and it starts with vision, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to adapt quickly. There are many areas we can be better in whether it’s social media, editing, SEO, sales, finding news, producing creative original content or adding more staff. Though there’s always work to be done and challenges to overcome, when you’re doing something you love and you’re motivated to wake up each day doing it, that to me is success.
But lately there’s one part of the job that I haven’t enjoyed – the hiring process. Fortunately in going through it, I was able to get to know Arky Shea. He’s a good guy, talented writer, and fan of the industry, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s joining us as BSM’s new night time editor. I’ll have a few other announcements to make later this month, but in the meantime, if you’re qualified to be an editor or social media manager, I’m still going through the process to add those two positions to our brand. You can learn more about both jobs by clicking here.
Working for an independent digital brand like ours is different from working for a corporation. You communicate directly with yours truly, and you work remotely on a personal computer, relying on your eyes, ears and the radio, television, and internet to find content. Because our work appears online, you have to enjoy writing, and understand and have a passion for the media industry, the brands who produce daily content, and the people who bring those brands to life. We receive a lot of interest from folks who see the words ‘sports’ and ‘news’ in our brand names and assume they’re going to cover games or political beats. They quickly discover that that’s not what we do nor are we interested in doing it.
If you follow us on social media, have visited our website or receive our newsletters, you’ve likely seen us promoting openings with the brand. I’ve even bought ads on Indeed, and been lucky enough to have a few industry folks share the posts on social. We’re in a good place and trying to make our product better, so to do that, we need more help. But over the past two months, Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.
Receiving applications from folks who don’t have a firm grasp of what we do is fine. That happens everywhere. Most of the time we weed those out. It’s no different than when a PD gets an application for a top 5 market hosting gig from a retail employee who’s never spoken on a microphone. The likelihood of that person being the right fit for a role without any experience of how to do the job is very slim. What’s been puzzling though is seeing how many folks reach out to express interest in opportunities, only to discover they’re not prepared, not informed or not even interested in the role they’ve applied for.
For instance, one applicant told me on a call ‘I’m not interested in your job but I knew getting you on the phone would be hard, and I figured this would help me introduce myself because I know I’m a great host, and I’d like you to put me on the radar with programmers for future jobs.’ I had another send a cover letter that was addressed to a different company and person, and a few more applied for FT work only to share that they can’t work FT, weren’t interested in the work that was described in the position, didn’t know anything about our brand but needed a gig, were looking for a confidence boost after losing a job or they didn’t have a computer and place to operate.
At first I thought this might be an exclusive issue only we were dealing with. After all, our brand and the work we do is different from what happens inside of a radio or TV station. In some cases, folks may have meant well and intended something differently than what came out. But after talking to a few programmers about some of these things during the past few weeks, I’ve been stunned to hear how many similar horror stories exist. One top programmer told me hiring now is much harder than it was just five years ago.
I was told stories of folks applying for a producer role at a station and declining an offer unless the PD added air time to the position. One person told a hiring manager they couldn’t afford not to hire them because their ratings were tanking. One PD was threatened for not hiring an interested candidate, and another received a resume intended for the competing radio station and boss. I even saw one social example last week of a guy telling a PD to call him because his brand was thin on supporting talent.
Those examples I just shared are bad ideas if you’re looking to work for someone who manages a respected brand. I realize everyone is different, and what clicks with one hiring manager may not with another, but if you have the skills to do a job, I think you’ll put yourself in a better position by avoiding these 5 mistakes below. If you’re looking for other ways to enhance your chances of landing an opportunity, I recommend you click here.
Educate Yourself Before Applying – take some time to read the job description, and make sure it aligns with your skillset and what you’re looking to do professionally before you apply. Review the company’s body of work and the people who work there. Do you think this is a place you’d enjoy being at? Does it look like a job that you’d gain personal and professional fulfillment from? Are you capable of satisfying the job requirements? Could it potentially put you on the path to greater opportunities? If most of those produce a yes, it’s likely a situation to consider.
Proofread Your Email or Cover Letter and Resume – If the first impression you give a hiring manager is that you can’t spell properly, and you address them and their brand by the wrong names, you’re telling them to expect more mistakes if they hire you. Being detail oriented is important in the media business. If this is your introduction to someone and they have a job you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to go through your materials thoroughly before you press send. If you can have someone else put an extra set of eyes on your introduction to protect you from committing a major blunder even better.
Don’t Waste People’s Time – You’d be annoyed if a company put you through a 3-4 week process only to tell you they didn’t see you as a viable candidate right? Well, it works the other way too. If you’re not seriously interested in the job or you’re going into the process hoping to change the job description later, don’t apply. If the fit isn’t right or the financials don’t work, that’s OK. Express that. People appreciate transparency. Sometimes they may even call you back in the future when other openings become available. But if you think someone is going to help you after you wasted their time or lied to them, trust me, they won’t.
Don’t Talk Like An Expert About Things You Don’t Know – Do you know why a station’s ratings or revenue is down? Are you aware of the company’s goals and if folks on the inside are satisfied or upset? Is the hiring manager someone you know well enough to have a candid professional conversation with? If the answers are no, you’re not helping your case by talking about things you don’t have full knowledge of. You have no idea how the manager you’re talking to has been dealing with the challenges he or she is faced with so don’t pretend you do. Just because someone wrote an article about it and you read it doesn’t mean you’re informed.
Use Social Wisely – Being frustrated that you didn’t get a job is fine. Everyone goes through it. Asking your friends and followers for advice on social of how you could’ve made a better case for yourself is good. That shows you’re trying to learn from the process to be better at it next time. But taking to social to write a book report blasting the hiring manager, their brand, and/or their company over a move that didn’t benefit you just tells them they made the right move by not bringing you in. Chances are, they won’t be calling you in the future either.
Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?
How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.
But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?
As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.
Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.
Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.
I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.
What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.
As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.
Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.
But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.
Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.
There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.
I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.