When To Risk It All

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(By Randy Lane) Management and talent often struggle with how to approach sensitive subjects trending in the news. The recent ESPN Dan Le Batard controversy is a perfect example of a viral topic that has everyone weighing in with an opinion.

Does it ever benefit media personalities to break out of format expectations to take a stand and share their personal perspective on topics that could ignite strong emotional reactions?

Yes.

  • This is a perfect time for management to review political policies for on-air and social media.
  • Regardless of your opinion, Dan Le Batard has elevated the awareness of his brand. Two weeks ago, most people, other than heavy ESPN users, would not know his name. Check out the segment views on YouTube.
  • If it’s personal and you are passionate about a topic, it’s disingenuous not to speak up. Le Batard’s parents are immigrants. His reaction was both passionate and personal.
  • Nike took a risk with an ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick and boosted sales by 31%.

And, Proceed with Caution

  • Remember that the majority of the audience is not coming to music, sports, or entertainment shows for politics. In fact, they may be coming to your show to avoid it.
  • In this climate of polarization, talking politics is a no-win situation. However, there are moral social issues such as racism, gender inequality, or homelessness that can provoke authentic responses from talent and listeners.
  • If you are going to address a social issue, do your homework, fact check, and be concise. Avoid making the issue a theme. State your point of view in one segment and move on.
  • Your job is primarily to entertain, but when challenged to take a stand, be mindful that the middle of the road is road kill.
  • Just because it worked for Le Batard, beware of jumping on the bandwagon. There could be real risks involved. You could offend your audience, damage your brand, or be fired.

Hot topics will always come and go, but in the long run, you will be more successful presenting innovative content as your authentic, unfiltered self.

Randy Lane launched his media talent coaching and personal brand development company in 1996. He can be contacted by phone at 805-497-7177 or email at info@randylane.net.

1 COMMENT

  1. Randy’s comments, while viable and valuable, presume that any given manager is a reasonable individual that is also open to or, at least, semi-tolerant of some controversy generated by on-air performers.
    However, since most on-air folks absolutely NEED their phoney-baloney jobs and their very next pay checks, the real-life risks of providing any controversy are that they may very well be setting fire to their own hair – or worse.
    While utterly discouraging and a slap to their integrity, “the principle of the thing”, as a noble position, is not even close to getting any performer “taking a risk” a worthwhile response.

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