(By James Bahm) Spend time with any media outlet and what you hear speaks volumes about what the station’s management thinks of its clients, audience, and, oftentimes, its culture. I previously wrote about a station’s imaging (AKA Marketing Strategy) and the types of commercial copywriting they produce (AKA their clients’ messaging).
While I am primarily addressing radio stations in this column, these thoughts are applicable to any company, in any industry, anywhere in the world.
Innovation and forward thinking have allowed advancements in medicine, education, and technology — there’s more technology in our pockets than was in the Apollo capsules that took our astronauts to the moon! Why is it, then, that the number one killer in most radio stations (and other companies in the world) is not adapting?
For over 25 years I’ve worked for stations in every time zone, been on-air (radio and television), worked in sales and marketing, promotions, and community relations. The stations that have failed, or I should say remained stagnant, all had one thing in common: some programmer, general or sales manager, would browbeat the staff with this statement: THAT’S THE WAY WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT!
If you think that this philosophy is the best way to operate a company, do everyone a favor and go to work at a local fast food place, or be a greeter in the nearest big-box store.
Granted, being law-abiding, ethical, kind, and accepting of others’ religious and personal beliefs should always be adhered to and remain first and foremost in every company.
I’ve worked places where ideas were shot down because “the guys upstairs won’t let that happen” or “you don’t need to be creative, just let me do things the way they’ve always been done.”
If you have someone on staff who loves to write, pay them a little more each month to post blogs on your company’s website. After all, the more content you create, the higher your organic ranking in Google. When you give creative people the ability to speak their language, great things can happen.
Sales managers, if you bring someone on board, give them 6-9-12 months to get their legs underneath them — especially if they are moving to a new market. They could’ve been the highest producers in other markets, but yours is a different animal. Even LeBron James, the best basketball player in the NBA, is struggling in his first season in L.A. and at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade!
I met with a client recently who shared a story of his active duty time with the Air Force. A new airman joined their unit and asked why they were doing it that way when another way saved time and was more efficient.
When we’re humble enough to allow ourselves to learn from another person — regardless of whether that person is a teenager or senior citizen — we can grow and engage new audiences.
Anyone who works in broadcasting sells audience. We sell audience by reaching out via better liners and imaging, writing better advertising copy that allows our clients to be searched for not sought after, and letting our team do what they do best.
Whether it’s deleting their Facebook account or wanting apps that make them feel better connected to what they want, audiences adapt and evolve rapidly. So should those who run radio stations. Some corporations allow for creativity, some don’t. Smart ones innovate, and adapt, those who don’t risk losing not only listeners (which cost them clients and revenue), but they risk losing great people who can make a difference when given the opportunity.
Bottom Line: If you continue to do things the way you’ve always done them, you will be left behind.
James Bahm is a 25-year broadcast veteran, an advertising and marketing resource, and owner of The Bahm Consulting.