Developing a great brand that becomes important to an audience and generates ratings involves a few key factors. First, great talent have to be in place. If your brand doesn’t have people in front of the camera or behind the mic who others want to listen to, watch, and spend time with, the rest won’t matter. Personalities with an ability to help an audience laugh and learn while coming across as likeable and interesting are vital.
The next part of the equation involves content choices. Discussing what you had for lunch may sound like an awful content selection but if a gifted storyteller can take that bland piece of content and turn it into something memorable, it could be your brand’s best segment of the day. It could also be your worst. This applies to sports talk too. A host on the air can build content around a team or player that’s most important to listeners but if all they do is state the obvious, it won’t be enough to make a mark. On the other hand, a talent who’s plugged in, processes information differently, and has something to say that makes you think, feel, and react is entirely different. Both types of hosts may have done the right thing focusing their material on the subjects that are supposed to resonate with those listening or watching, but if the opinion and stories told add nothing new, the topic choice alone isn’t enough.
Which leads us to one of radio’s biggest challenges – subjectivity. What one programmer considers spectacular, another may find uninteresting. A talent dubbed as a ‘game changer’ by one executive may be seen as ‘can’t be hired’ by another. One PD may value guests and calls, another wants them nowhere near their airwaves. It’s no different in pro sports too. Coaches, scouts and executives have looked stupid and brilliant picking players who others thought were or weren’t worth investing in.
But building and satisfying an audience depends on much more than just hiring a talented host. You’ve got to feature the right content, market your brand and personalities, connect on multiple platforms, study to learn where your audience is located and what causes them to tune in or out. The deeper you understand your audience and their preferences, the better your chances of reaching them, marketing to them, putting your advertising partners on their radar, and ultimately creating success.
To get a better perspective on the challenges of audience development, and how brands and listening habits were affected by the pandemic, I reached out to my friends at Point to Point Marketing. Their support helped us create the Meet The Market Managers series, which hopefully you read. If not, click here to learn about some of the industry’s top leaders. Given that they specialize in marketing, research, and brand/audience development, their insights should be helpful to programmers and GM’s who are trying to figure out how to better serve their fans and partners. Enjoy.
- Tim Bronsil – President
- Tim Satterfield – VP, Digital
- Susan Bacich – VP Strategy and Audience Insights
Jason Barrett: Before we dive into some of the opportunities and challenges associated with audience development, how did you get started your company?
Tim Bronsil: It started 23 years ago. Mark Heiden, who previously ran Eagle Marketing in Colorado, and Rick Torcasso, who was in charge of programming for Alliance and was kind of the brains behind the young Country format, they became partners. It began with a handful of clients. Now we work in almost all of the PPM markets. I came on board 16 years ago. Susan has been with us for 10 years, and Tim has been involved now for 7 years. The three of us are the face of the company as it relates to our clients. We’re the ones that strategize with them, come up with the different game plans, and then execute it. We have a team of nearly a dozen people that work for us and help with different things such as design, digital, research, etc. but the three of us are who work closest with the client.
JB: We partnered recently on the Meet The Market Manager’s series. There were a lot of different companies and business leaders featured over a 15 week period. What stood out to you from those conversations?
TB: The biggest takeaways for me from the Meet The Market Managers series were learning how business prior to Covid was different, and required adjusting to the present conditions. Brands needed to find ways to connect with their audience, serve their advertisers, and technologically get their talent to continue engaging with their audience whether it was done remotely or in studio. To hear each of these company leaders share how they handled pandemic marketing, programming, and sales was probably the biggest benefit for me.
Susan Bacich: For me, it was learning about the shift in how people are listening. I came to Point to Point from working in radio where you have your morning show and afternoon show as the staples of the radio station. Middays and evenings are obviously important too, but the way the shifting of listening has changed during the last fifteen months was really a big takeaway. The other item that caught my attention was discovering what radio stations and other audio companies are taking away from how listeners consume their audio, when they’re consuming it, and where they’re doing so. All of that has changed, and that stood out.
Tim Satterfield: One of the best things I think is that they now have a higher perception of the value of the digital connection. When the pandemic hit and everybody went to a Zoom call, and the personalities were encouraged to stay in contact with their existing audience thru digital channels, whether thru Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. I just think it sealed the deal on their perception of the value of that contact point being digital. The good part for us obviously is that that’s our conduit on social bounce, so I think anyone who had questions about its value or its ability to work and succeed at getting the message in front of those people, I think that was washed away during the pandemic, if there were any of those.
JB: When it comes to developing and connecting with an audience, technology has changed so much about it. In the past it was a combination of radio, print and TV, now you have digital, which can be split into a number of different directions, plus you have email, direct mail, and other means of reaching fans. Is there one medium you value more than others when you’re working on behalf of a radio brand? How do each of you feel about that?
TB: The big thing with any marketing campaign that you’re going to deploy is you need to recognize the relative advantage that you’re trying to display. Once you have that nailed, then you can decide upon the tactics you’re going to use. Many stations will market before they’ve identified what that relative advantage is. So once we’ve done that, the best way we see to give a full three hundred and sixty degree view of that relative advantage is thru social media marketing. We can put up twenty, thirty or forty five second videos of talent, which showcases their humor, expertise, and other unique traits. That video can then live in the ecosystem with paid dollars behind it for a few days. Then we put up another piece of content that once again reinforces that relative advantage. Social gives you the opportunity to drill down to the demographic and key areas that matter, and that is the same whether it’s for broadcast radio or podcasting. We can find that audience and deliver that message on an ongoing basis very cost effectively.
TS: It just mirrors the move to digital marketing that you’ve seen across all brands and verticals. Radio shouldn’t be any different in that it’s very cost effective, very targetable, we can find the audience, and then when you take it and add it as part of a comprehensive marketing plan with the other products we have, we’ve seen that it can be extremely successful.
JB: How does age factor into this because radio and TV tend to skew older, digital younger. Are you able to still see great recall from older audiences on social and younger people on radio?
TS: The answer is yes. In fact, we’ve recently seen some results with people 55-64+ with podcast marketing because that demographic has the time, they’re interested depending on the product and the affinity it has. Those folks are on Facebook where you can generate a lot of click thru’s where that’s the campaign objective. On the radio side, it depends on the brand and what their target is. But if it’s 18-34 and they say ‘nobody is on Facebook’, that’s incorrect. We can see the results. They still have a high level of profiles. They’re on Snapchat, Instagram, and they look at stories, but they’re not off of Facebook, they still sample it. When you take the 18-34’s and the amount of frequency they have with their devices, it still makes them easy to find. Everything in between, really easy.
SB: One thing to add, in the social world it’s not just about casting a wide net. The nice thing about social and any of the marketing tactics we deploy on behalf of our clients is that we use it to grow recognition with compatible listeners. We’re not just throwing that wide net out, we’re looking for those people who are most likely to listen to your product. Whether that’s to your radio station or your podcasts or social media, we’re looking for those people who are most likely to consume your content. And in doing that, we’re helping to reinforce the brand’s position with that person who we’ve reached. Different tactics allow us to grow that audience in different ways.
JB: When it comes to sports fans, they’re very passionate and the platforms they use and the way they use them are very different. For instance, my company expanded into news in September, and I learned quickly that the majority of brands and talent on news radio are conservative. They have less trust in big tech and aren’t as enthusiastic to share content and engage on social media as sports radio folks are. Sports fans love to have conversations and stay informed on Twitter, whereas news is a different deal. When you’re targeting a sports fan on behalf of a client or just doing your own research to figure out what people want, what are some things you’ve noticed that sports fans respond best to?
TB: I would say that it’s not just the specific knowledge about a certain sport or team. You have that base knowledge but then there are other things around it that are about your lifestyle as a sports fan. Showcasing that from a talent standpoint works. It’s important to give that three hundred and sixty degree view of the show and the personalities not just highlight how you might be an expert at a particular thing. Just because you live in a particular market doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a fan of the local team. People move places all the time. Owning a particular team can be a challenge so we try to focus on showcasing the whole part of the show.
JB: I want to ask each of you about the challenges of doing research and marketing during the pandemic. In 2019 we had a pretty good read on where people were, what was growing, what wasn’t, but then 2020 hit and everything changed due to uncontrollable circumstances. That obviously can create some challenges in the way you might go about reaching people. How did you guys pivot in the way you helped brands market themselves and gather information to be able to reach their audience?
TB: Everyone had a cell phone in their hand in mid-March of 2020 and they were constantly checking it. Our marketing is delivering to mobile devices 100%. Wherever they are Jason, either in the car, at the office, in the backyard, by delivering to that device with an immediate call to action we saw great success and engagement rates pick up in the second quarter of last year. Because we had this platform ready to go, brands were still able to reach their audiences even if they were displaced from their normal commuting patterns.
TS: We saw the engagement rates and connection with the audience go up not down because of the pandemic. People were home, they had their device, they were interested in what was going on outside not inside because they were stuck, so we saw everything pick up. The pandemic I believe helped enhance the perception of the value of the digital marketing that we do. The change from the pandemic may have been the use, but it was also the perception of the value.
SB: What’s interesting is that we’re now doing more at work targeting but during the pandemic it was really important to catch them at home. We had their complete attention because they couldn’t go anywhere. Anything coming in from the outside world was great. If we were able to get into those homes and deliver messages that made them excited, made them interested, made them want to look twice, that’s what our goal was, and that’s what we focused on.
JB: You guys work with multiple formats so I’m curious if we went back to March-May of last year, music didn’t stop, news became really important, but sports shut down. When you’re working with sports brands at that time and there’s no new content being created in the sports world, where do you shift a brand’s marketing focus?
TB: In April and May brands started creating original content. All throughout that time there were a lot of sports stories out there – when will sports return, what will open up in the fall, what type of capacity will there be, the hope of sports is where we placed our focus.
JB: Would it be fair to say that the pandemic helped emphasize how important it is for brands to feature sports media personalities not just talent with an ability to create topics built from last night’s events?
SB: Anyone can deliver the news line, the stat, but it’s how you deliver it that counts. You saw a lot of programmers, producers, and personalities, step up their game because they had to. They had to literally reach out and grab that audience and create a reason for people to connect with them. A lot of people grew during that time period especially the hosts.
JB: As a former PD, the one part that I found fascinating was that you can create a strategy, tell talent what to talk more or less about, and image a brand around a team or teams, and that all sounds great, but when sports goes dark and there’s no live events taking place, you better have great personalities or you’re not going to retain an audience. The PD isn’t going to have the answer when an unprecedented event like a pandemic rocks the world and cancels all of sports. There’s no playbook available that says ‘this works, this doesn’t’. Imagine a music radio station staffed by DJ’s who show up one day and have no songs to play. That’s what sports talent dealt with, and the brands that featured on-air talent who were more important than the content, essentially the destination and reason listeners show up, did well. Those dependent on last night’s game, either struggled or wished they could use vacation time.
TS: Connection is key and personalities always make the difference.
SB: What you’re describing are stations and personalities who lost their brand. But they didn’t have to lose their brand position. They could’ve retained their position in the market. That’s what we worked on with our clients. Reinforcing what the brand is to the audience, and retaining that recognition is what we wanted to keep intact whether people were listening live to a show or thru podcasts.
JB: You mentioned podcasting which is one area of the business that many are excited about. Digital listening continues to increase, revenues are climbing, and radio in recent years hasn’t been growing so that factors into why so many are bullish on this space. When you’re studying audience behavior and the way it’s changing, from what you’ve seen so far, what are your takeaways? Is radio making the right call putting a heavier focus on podcasting based on where things are projected to go in the next few years or are we rushing towards it simply because it’s growing and other parts of the industry have been a little flat?
TS: I think it’s additive. Every time we do this, where we’re looking at the new shiny object, I think back to the days when cable was going to kill local television. I still watch my local television station. And I believe that there is no way podcasting or audio consumption on digital only is going to kill radio. Will it have to adjust? Will the audience change? We’ve seen some research that shows it’s having an impact in terms of frequency and how many tune ins, but it’s not going away. A good company with good margins is still going to see good cash flow using good ole fashioned radio to deliver a product to an audience. I know the public companies like to see growth. I see this as an opportunity that helps not hurts in the long term.
SB: I worked for a small company a while ago and they had this legend and it was the original owner talked to Howard Hughes. He was a bellhop at a hotel and he asked Howard ‘How do I provide for my family? What’s the next thing for me to get into?’ Howard told him ‘Buy FM transmitters’. So this bellhop started buying FM signals, and everyone laughed at him, but soon he was the one laughing all the way to the bank. It took some time and changes in formats and programming between AM and FM, but it reminds us that you never know what’s going to happen. It’s wise to move forward and to start going into those digital directions because you don’t know what is going to take off. If we were having this conversation twenty months ago, we wouldn’t have been talking about a pandemic and people’s listening habits changing wildly in such a short period of time but here we are.
TS: We can see the growth in podcasting. It’s genuine and it’s real. We’re out there to help those who have podcasts and want to have significant audience share do just that. We’ve seen it as a product extension if you will that we think is going to pay off for us kind of like FM transmitters paid off for the bellhop.
JB: So you take the podcast audience, the radio audience, the people a brand reaches thru their email newsletter, the video consumption on social media, in some cases brands even have TV simulcasts, and you add it all up and it’s pretty significant. But then the issue becomes, radio has all of this reach and audience, but isn’t getting full credit for it. That’s frustrating inside the building because you can see the brand’s impact but buyers are still making decisions based on certain criteria and it doesn’t always include the things you do well at that go uncredited. For you guys, doesn’t it in some ways become not just about marketing to develop audiences but also educating advertisers on the power of a brand and why they should be associating with it?
TB: Yes. The first step is to remind the advertisers of how big the brands are and show them that reach and engagement. We had clients that used videos of their air talent and then sold a sponsorship of that video. The exposure that that brand received was thru the roof and they saw the power of not only having a mention on the air but also being involved in social. Taking some chances and involving your client in those ways, maybe at no-cost in the beginning, gives you the opportunity to show them down the road when you go and ask for that order. The other part which was interesting, Sam Pines in Cleveland, what he’s doing with the Land on Demand, an on-demand service, that can also bridge some of that where you’re not picking up some of the advertising dollars but that subscription is an innovative way to leverage that content across other platforms.
JB: I want to wrap up by asking each of you to reflect on last year and the challenge of helping brands while the industry dealt with pain caused by the pandemic. As someone who helps stations myself, I saw how it started bad, but fortunately turned around. During that time though, it has to be hard when the strategies you’ve used that you know work have to be quickly adjusted because people’s habits are rapidly changing. Then there’s the reality that some brands who need your help are navigating financial setbacks and are going to pause business, even though you can argue that there’s no more important time to study audience behavior and be in front of people. When you’re going thru something like that, how do you keep your business relationships strong and remind folks of the importance of sticking with a plan and continuing to market to their audience and do research?
TB: In normal times Jason, it is reminding them that ongoing communication with an audience is important because there are so many other audio choices out there. We have to remind them of that unduplicated content and why they need to come to your brand on a regular basis. It’s even more important now because we know listening patterns have changed since the pandemic to go and remind the audience of that. We need to make sure our radio brands are doing this while people return to the roads, return to work, as they return to their normal commuting patterns. Failure to do something is really not an option.
SB: I want to touch on one thing you mentioned Jason about the challenge of dealing with the realities of what everyone was dealing with last year. There were times when our clients told us ‘we’re with you but we’re going to have to hit the pause button because we don’t know what’s going on.’ That was understandable. If I were in their shoes I’d have probably done the same thing. But just because they paused didn’t mean our communication with the client stopped. If anything, our communication with the client picked up. We were coming up with ideas for them to help them with their advertisers and connecting with their audiences. We worked with them on brainstorming to try and help them create solutions to overcome a difficult period. For us, keeping those relationships intact was important.
TS: And Jason, the result of that is that the relationships and communication that we’ve had with these companies and individuals for literally decades, led to them stopping the pause. To their credit, knowing that they needed to get back in front of the audience to get that share back, and taking into account the relationship history and all of that groundwork that we did to help them, paid off in bringing those companies back to a marketing opportunity sooner which was great for both them and us.
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.