Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Don't buy the house; buy the neighborhood." Russian proverb

"Those not present are always wrong." Phillipe Destouches

"Originality is nothing but judicious imitation." Voltaire

Today's image: Orange - blue mood by anple. Outstanding. Thank you for sharing.

Too early to tell

Are we witness to some confirmation of a long standing industry conjecture, the Arbitron diary as "ballot"? The pre-currency Chicago numbers suggest a dramatic and significant difference between the numbers Chicago radio star Steve Dahl has been posting in the diary vs his early PPM numbers.

The diary depends on literate behavior, on recall. Those of us involved in gaming the system understand these rules of engagement and have developed practices which encourage the favorable "vote." In the diary world an important role of marketing was to remind, to "aid" recall by suggesting an answer. In some cases the goal was to influence, solicit or direct actual behavior (e.g., Birthday Game, targeting promotions/events on Thursdays).

On the day job we produced a white paper in 2005 Understanding the PPM Exposure Environments - Sense of Place - Single & Social. Our thesis being there were two very different "spaces" subject to PPM exposure, the personal or single space and the social spaces (e.g., the workplace). In my talk at The Conclave that year several suggestions from the paper were shared including placing a higher priority on sense of place and penetration of place.

Chicago media icon Steve Dahl appears to be one of the most recent examples of a performer with a solid track record of delivering consistently strong ratings in the diary data that, suddenly, without explanation, seems to have experienced a major loss of audience according to the pre-currency PPM data.

Could this be a case of ballot vs exposure? What is behind this difference in reported listening (diary) and recorded listening (PPM)? Is it possible that when provided with the opportunity to "vote" for Steve his fans did just that, no matter their actual listening during the survey week? Further, is it possible that Steve's fans are continuing to listen as before but we are now made aware of their "actual" behavior? (It's perhaps more fair to say their "actual exposures")

The sea change here may well be the contrast in the measure of occasions. The diary permitted occasions and the duration of those occasions to be defined by respondent reporting alone. The PPM permits only a passive recording of occasions and time spent per occasion by exposure.

It seems reasonable to suggest this pov: the behavior has not changed only the reporting of behavior. The data capture shifting from the elected/chosen to the heard/exposed. This introduces important issues related to cognition.

To date, the early PPM data from all markets seems to be teaching us a) morning drive is probably less important than middays and PMD. This has major economic implications. b) franchise personalities/programs may benefit from some degree of preference or bias in the diary (i.e., diary voting) that is not clearly as evident or as favorable in the meter. Stations favored in the social space gain practical measurement benefits over those favored only in the single space. Stay tuned, it's too early to tell.

Pack journalism, alive and well: Irrational herd instinct drives estimated 15,000 journalists to cover DNC. The economic pressure on station teams and publishers has never been more intense so why is it that managers are wasting money sending teams to Denver? My sense is those dollars could have and should have been more wisely invested. Don't make me release the flying monkeys. Blame the CEOs, put the guilty news managers on double secret probation. Minnesota Public Radio sending "20 people"? If true, someone in St Paul needs a wake up call. File this one under Serious Errors in Judgment! Bonus bad judgment points if new net rev was not produced to cover related expenses. Cory over at LR has more w/comments here.

A Mutual Thing: Gathering on 9/13 at the Crystal City Hyatt, former MBS staff. Get in touch if you worked for the network, WHN or WCFL. Should be fun. mutualreunion [at] yahoo [dot] com

Bonus: Edison Research Web 2.0 maven Tom Webster shares topline from his NME presentation. Highly recommended....

Don't be convenient.
Be unmissable.
Reward urgency.

Bravos, Tom. Well said. Read Tom's post, Podcasting: The Curse of Convenience, here. Still don't care for the term podcasting. My suggestion is the term is not entering the consumer vocabulary. Why not chase video on demand or audio on demand? Tom makes some excellent points about creating demand for audio offerings. On the day job we are still using the "Disney release" approach and producing favorable results. Just as the motion picture industry makes use of release windows (e.g., first run, second or buck house run, video release, vod release, etc). We continue experimenting with an approach we are calling "Early Extras" where we add first run content that is not available in subsequent runs. A reward to those that tune into the first run. We also refresh and add special little hooks exclusive to second runs and in the best of archive. Think Easter Eggs.

Going deep: Indie rock impresario Bruce Rave favors us with Go Deep, Show 24 now on offer here. Outstanding! Don't miss it if you can.

Congrats & cheers: Google Ad Manager. Very cool. More info here. David Sanborn on his killer new release Here & Gone, an incredible tribute to Hank Crawford, every track is a beauty; tight! Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Joss Stone and Sam Moore came to play. Deb Turner joins DEI as Exec Dir of the CPB initiative Leadership for Philanthropy being staffed by DEI. The dolls and guys of public media get their ning on, DirectCurrent, discussions about public media. Radio ace Jay Mitchell launches a new web design venture, Site For Sore Eyes.

Dept of new cool: Mozilla Labs bows Ubiquity. Loves it! Check out the vid, should it start choppy, standby, it gets much better. This alpha 0.1 experiment is totally cool. [Requires Firefox] Bravos, Aza. Well done.

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Nothing fails like success because we don't learn from it. We learn only from failure." Kenneth Boulding

"The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting." Fran Lebowitz

"People count up the faults of those who are keeping them waiting." French proverb

Today's image: Color Expression by rt44man. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Metrics & Testing

Trade secrets: On the day job we strongly recommend clients make use of a daily dashboard to track performance metrics. Further, we believe testing, experimentation, offers outstanding ROI.

Google web analytics ace Avinash Kaushik suggests investing one hour a day using analytic tools, experience has taught our team there is significant wisdom in his suggestion. Should you not be using Google Analytics it is our suggestion you sign-up today. More info here.

Sridhar blogging at Zoho has pulled together some interesting information and features the following data in the post Why We Compete with Google...

For each company below - Annual Rev in $Bil/Rev per Emp in 000/Profit per Emp in 000

Google - 16.6/847/214
Microsoft - 60.42/664/194
eBay - 8.1/523/103
Adobe - 3.16/454/103
Yahoo - 6.97/487/46 - 0.75/262/7

We have selected only some of the firms listed in the post and ranked these by profit per employee. Should Sridhar be correct in the arithmetic and we have no reason to doubt the numbers, Google is doing an exceptional job of producing revenue and profit on a per employee basis. Sridar's entire post is here.

The encouraging news here is we are aware of some broadcast operations that are producing revenues north of $847,000 per employee and those same operations generate profit per employee greater than $214,000. How does your team compare?

Bonus: Internets rock star Clay Shirky talks with Bob Garfield about Twitter. How Tweet It Is, audio and transcript, via On The Media here.

Local, local, local: LR contributor Don Day has done an excellent overview of what's happening in local media. Highly recommended post, The battle for local: The Players, w/comments here. Bravos, Don!

Monday, August 25, 2008

"I prefer the errors of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom." Anatole France

"Man's desires are limited by his perceptions; none can desire what he has not perceived." William Blake

"The first undertakers in all great attempts commonly miscarry, and leave the advantages of their losses to those that come after them." Samuel Butler

Today's image: Mile marker 13 by James. Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

All your platforms are belong to us

The allusion is, of course, to CATS. If you're thinking of the T.S. Eliot inspired work of that gifted (and knighted) Webber gentleman, sorry, wrong memory;) The provenance here is from earlier this century, the memetic phenomenon born of the Toaplan offering Zero Wing.

Allow me to suggest we are living in the early days of digital media's burgeoning wild west, the digital frontier. We may well have passed the "pong moment," gone beyond that certain boundary of no return into the event horizon. [I could again prove to be wrong in my timing here as is evident from this post made in August 2004 - so you know, more than one group head read that post and said to me back in 2004 "What sales crisis?"]. Today's cacophony and chaos is the new normal. Ambiguity rules. Innovation is messy and there is lots of wreckage in the fast lane.

One thing is certain, we are, each and all, at yet another point of making it up as we go along. We have reached a point where decisions matter and not making a decision is, as ever, deciding. Dear reader, please beware the so-called experts. Truth be known, questions matter far more than responses (there are no answers, no game-changing solution sets at this point). Let me further proffer some really important things are - as our Zero Wing example serves to illustrate - getting messed up, lost in translation. It's the repetition of the poor translation that is becoming potentially dangerous.

Platform agnostic

If social media has offered any early lesson it is one must learn, understand and respect being platform agnostic. I learned this lesson the hard way as an IBM Business Partner in the 1980s. Our software development firm created custom code that became the first effective paperless office solution for the Citibank credit card operation. What we failed to grok was this was actually a system to sell through the then cutting edge AS400 platform for IBM. D'oh! Those were the days when I first learned a great many marketing lessons from my Armonk colleagues. [Social media sidebar: LinkedIn, that little social network the majority never heard of is said to be billing over $100 mil this year with a market value of about $1 bil. Compare and contrast, 100 mil is the same amount of revenue that put Joel Hollander into a living hell when he lost Howard]

In today's case - audio - listeners could care less where it originates or how they capture it. They only care that it is the audio they want when they want it. They like it or they don't.

Once the technology becomes transparent (and, if you're a successful provider, it will be at some point) all that matters is the content. This comes down to grasping that you are living in two very different worlds. Today's waning economic engine, that is, the business of import. Tomorrow's new model, one not yet fully defined with business strategy, which is one of export. The yesterday being perpetuated by end stage money versus the brave new unknown world of tomorrow supported, presently, by what amounts to little more than the rounding errors on financial statements. Too many CEOs are declaring this to be a Hobson's choice and they're getting it all wrong. Many damn the economy and every other potential accomplice for their failing and changing world of import. At the same time they damn and preclude the concept of any serious investment in new tech and export beyond that very precise penny required to generate a press release or provide them with the opportunity to talk it up as innovation on their next quarterly call. These are the CEOs that continue to insist on bringing a knife to a gun fight. As my old friend Joseph L. Floyd used to say "Talk is cheap. Whiskey costs money."

Throwing in another allusion, these are the CEOs taking the blue pill and complaining when they should be choosing the red pill and taking the wild ride. This is at the core of our present day leadership problem. CEOs insist on doing just enough, the minimum required, to check the box but it's no longer enough to matter. Not enough to get into the new game at hand. The majority of broadcast sites and other digital efforts continue to suck. There is only one excuse and it's that too many CEOs still don't get it. These are the CEOs that have become the dead weight, they are the true enemies of progress, the people standing in the way, blocking the paths of future wealth creation. In my opinion, it's time to retire some jerseys, this must be done for the good of the game.

Fail faster!

Hint: The number of times your team has met to seriously discuss and argue the merits of VRM = How serious your team really is about the future. 0 = 0. The number of times your team has launched a new initiative, failed and started another new initiative = How serious your team is about innovation. 0 = 0. The number of experiments going on in each department = How serious your team is about reinvention. 0 = 0. Failing faster is the most effective way to succeed sooner. Remember what Bill Gates said "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose." Keep in mind the advice of Steve Jobs "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."

Readers of this blog will recall my long standing rant: All that matters is what comes out of the speakers and what's on the screen(s), everything else is a footnote.

Silver bullets not included: Bob Struble has posted a new entry at his web page...

"Like every other consumer medium, AM/FM must be digital, online and over the air. And the efforts are complimentary – streaming those HD2s helps educate listeners; it’s a good thing. And HD Radio implementation can drive web traffic. Neither initiative will right the ship alone, but both play a role in the solution."

My sense is it would be difficult not to understand what Bob is saying here. Hard to imagine anything getting lost in translation. Bob's remarks are spot-on. It's not either or, it's AND. If you only pick one or two platforms you are probably the kind of person that has developed a system for playing and winning the lottery. How's that going? All your platforms are belong to digital. Moreover, all your platforms are belong to the group(s) formerly known as the audience. All your assets must be digital and discoverable. The one exception going forward is that totally important analog audio platform that still needs extra special attention, care and feeding TFN. Your main channel is not some distraction, it's the oxygen keeping your team alive, or not. If you don't own a demo in Arbitron you still have major work to do.

Read Bob's post, Digital Over the Air and Digital Online: We Can Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time, here. Bravos, Bob. Well said. Now that Bob & company have delivered the technology, the digital weaponry, we need to get to work on crafting those silver bullets without which that cool tech solution don't mean diddly. iBiquity developed the OS, we need to develop the apps. The apps the thing(s).

Danger, Will Robinson: This is a re-feed of a previous transmission for those that may have missed it last week. If you are working for a CEO who is blaming the economy you need to plan your escape, you deserve to be working for a much smarter person.

Just saying: When a person selling you something claims to be on the cutting edge of what's next in digital, you know, the one bragging about being dialed-in to what's really happening out there, simply ask them "What's your nick on FriendFeed?" Then, check them out. Alternatively, ask them "What's in your reader?" Take a look at what they think is worth reading. Then decide if the relationship is worth chasing. Should they fail to understand either question? Click. Thank me later.

Thank you very much: Chicago TV legend, Merri Dee, leaves WGN. Merri inspired generations, her body of work is a credit to WGN and to the television profession. More here.

Bonus: The five C's of social media. Thanks and bravos to Colin Walker

Congrats & cheers: The IE team at Microsoft. While they are not (yet) getting credit for the reorg, these are the guys to watch. N=1 is still going all-in with Ozzie. CBS Radio programming ace Mark Edwards featured in the latest Rick Kaempfer Chicago Radio Spotlight, here. Thanks for the mention, Mark! Kudos to Rick on another fine piece.

Have a great week. Make something amazing happen.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." Edgar Allan Poe

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." Walt Disney

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." Aldous Huxley

Today's image: La mar by toalafoto. Great shot. Thank you for sharing.

What is your mission?

Homework: Above is the mission of Facebook. This is the slide used by Mark Zuckerberg during his f8 keynote. [Image credit: (CC) Brian Solis, and]. How does your mission compare? What are you giving people? How is your organization helping to make the world more open and connected?

The show: Lennart Green holds a clinic on performance art, amazing close-up magic @ TED.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes than can be made in a very narrow field." Niels Bohr

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." Ernest Hemingway

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." Albert Camus

Today's image: Let me go by fataetoile/Cinzia. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Sales or Sales Support

Choose one

Great discussion over breakfast this morning. Forget all that chicken and egg nonsense. Product v Sales is a tired and empty argument. Sales = the entire ball game. Without sales you have no enterprise. As to profit, it's plainly an expense as Drucker often reminded.

Let's review: The six-word job description of the PD remains "Deliver numbers to the sales department." The PD is advocate for the group(s) formerly known as the audience. The four-word job description of the SM remains "Convert deliverables into cash." The SM is advocate for the paying customers. In the most effective organizations PDs and SMs are involved in an ongoing creative collaboration. The work is akin to the real-time improvisation one finds integral to jazz. A mix of equal parts art and science. Each player has a deep understanding and respect for producing results. Accordingly, there is art in commerce. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

What's Next Dept: Sarah Perez offers 6 Emerging Trends CIOs Should Care About...

According to Forrester Research, we're in the initial phases of a new 16-year cycle of technology innovation and growth called "IT Everywhere."

Sarah does a crisp review of the findings. Read her post via RWW here. Kudos, Sarah. Well done.

Got Firefox? New add-on for fans Downloading. Mozilla Selects Its 7 Best Firefox 3 Extensions via mashable.

"U.S. advertising revenue declined 1.5 percent in the second quarter, the steepest drop since Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. began tracking industry sales five and a half years ago." More via Bloomberg here.

Extra credit: Katie Couric & her digg swag via YouTube. Gotta give the girl credit for trying (perhaps too hard).

We're paying attention to the folks behind the Col Tribune curtain. They are revealed and pictured above. The details thanks to Todd Andrlik @ HuffPo here. Rock on, Col! Thanks for sharing Todd.

Thank you very much: Chat is now enabled in iGoogle. Very cool.

Have a wonderful weekend. See you next week in a brand new show.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Everything you can imagine is real." Picasso

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple." Dr. Seuss

"I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer." Douglas Adams

Today's image: Colors of Life by Lunalunita. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

The usual suspects

The broadcast trade show is broken

Please allow me to get the disclosures out of the way before we begin. In the last century I served on the committee responsible for oversight of the NAB RPC. I remain a fan of NAB, David Rehr, John David and others on NAB staff. I have always respected Steve Goldstein and believe him to be a good man. I served as board chair of The Conclave and continue to support that organization and its programs. Tom Kay and Ron Fell are friends. As any reader of this blog knows I am a loyal Dave Winer fanboi. Count me a long-time supporter of SXSW and a newfound advocate for Kelly O'Keefe. I make about a third of my annual income as a professional speaker and attend a variety of conferences for different industries. The following is offered in the spirit of constructive criticism. On with the show...

Dave Winer is a world-class expert on certain matters of the internet. Moreover, Dave has a unique pov when it comes to the world at large. Case in point, Dave's take on conventions...

"Let's get people with big ideas to contribute them, and to disagree with other people with big ideas."

Read Dave's post Time to shake up conferences? here.

Yesterday a uniformed federal employee brought me a beautiful full-color brochure from the NAB. The very well done piece promoted the NAB Radio Show which is now less than a month away.

Putting aside the expense, timing and not even getting into the communications channel used, the program - as outlined - was less than exciting. It did lead me to check out the complete agenda as presented on the NAB site. What I found, with some exceptions, was disappointing. The usual suspects leading discussions on predictable subject matter. Let me at least hope that I am dead wrong here and the association plans to do live streaming of sessions, enable/encourage live blogging and all kinds of other wonderful things now common at tech conferences. Please allow me to have child-like faith in the possibility of surprise.

Some of the people that put radio into critical care are among the presenters. Unless they plan on announcing their resignation, giving their last industry address before retirement or sharing something new or interesting they should not have been invited. Alternatively, they should have been honest enough to decline the invitation with the admission that they a) have no idea how to successfully address radio's present challenges b) have not been able to fix their own problems and don't feel qualified to counsel others.

What's needed badly here is intellectual honesty and cognitive diversity. Speakers should be qualified for invitation. The decades old practice of inviting the business card must come to an end. There are scores of people on the program that would never have a chance of being invited if they did not hold their present job.

I commend show chair and radio ace Steve Goldstein on making some bold moves this year, 15 sessions on digital is a good start. He's right to say there is a hunger for new thinking. What's required, however, are the new thinkers. The same old thinkers, ones that have found their way and are able to offer bullet proof evidence to support any such declaration, are certainly to be included. Where is the diversity? Where are the women? Kudos for inviting Kelly O'Keefe. Kelly gets it as too few do.

However, doing the arithmetic, conservatively...1,500 paid @ $500 each = $750,000 and this is the agenda we get?

Was it not possible to find a woman to at least moderate the all male group pd session? By my count there are 20 women speaking out of 141 speakers. Perhaps that says it all. Folks of color? Don't ask. Unless there is a sea change at this year's show my best guess is the majority of presenters will simply show up and wing it. Those that come prepared to deliver something of substance will be counted on one hand at the show's end (vendors excused from the count).

Where's the session with radio programming ace and award winning HD Radio innovator Mark Pennington doing a show and tell of the top ten killer HD2 streams? Let's get this straight, you give the guy a national award but failed to engage him in the design and leadership of a session related to his award, HD2 best practice?

How can the radio industry hold a meeting in 2008 and not invite internet radio rock star Kurt Hanson to put together a session or two?

Denise Shiffman would have made a great addition to the show. The smart kids at Google and Microsoft are reading her book this summer. And who forgot to invite Microsoft and Google? Susan Crawford is another that would have added much. Her take on the current regulatory environment would have been right on time. More fresh faces? Let me commend to you Clay Shirky and, since he's hanging his hat in Texas these days, how about inviting Hugh MacLeod to mix it up?

Some perspective.

Back in the last century when radio stations were powered by fire wood I had dinner in the city with my friend Rick Sklar. We had a wonderful time at one of Rick's favorites The Russian Tea Room. Over dinner Rick got into his agenda. As the highly successful and very respected lead programming guy on the NAB RPC Steering Committee he wanted his junior member on the same page. "Every year there are about fifteen hot people and ten or so red hot topics. Our job is to make sure the hottest people are invited and the red hot topics are covered. We play the hits, no excuses." Rick went on to suggest we stage point - counterpoint debates. "Jingles - YES or NO" was one I will never forget because the then CEO of TM, a jingle company, was also on the committee (representing show vendors).

Rick recruited me that night. I adopted his "damn the torpedoes" attitude especially about association politics. "Someone needs to care about the manager that pays their own way, uses their vacation time to attend and expects to go home with something practical they can use. That's our job. Dave, we gotta look out for the hard working station guy or no one else will."

Took that philosophy to heart when named chair of The Conclave. My version of Rick was "What can we provide that will cause the gal/guy in Bismarck, Omaha or Milwaukee to invest their own money, burn their vacation time, get behind the wheel, drive to The Cities and go home pumped, excited about getting back to work?" Conclave exec dir Tom Kay continues to lead that effort and has done some wonderful things. The Conclave is half-right on their brilliant Edison Research 30 under 30 collaboration. The next step should be unleashing the 30 to design, staff and lead their own sessions. Come on guys, this stuff writes itself. Take a flyer on the kids, they are living closer to the future than any of us.

Steve is right about fresh ideas. He's got the right attitude. He's got the almost completely wrong, business as usual agenda. Points given for some new stuff, just not enough of it. To borrow a line from Michael Rosenblum you need to "burn it to the ground" and start fresh.

Clearly, the problem here is close is not good enough. Close only counts in horse shoes, slow dancing, bad breath and grenades. ROI is the name of the game. More importantly, NAB should be leveraging tech and offering access online for those who will not attend for whatever reasons. Those staying at home will out number those attending by a very significant number. What can NAB do for those hard working folk?

Here are some things to think about for next year (and some for this year if someone is willing to do some work). Ordered as last minute this year and next year:

Flood the zone with connectivity, encourage live blogging. Live stream as many sessions as possible (audio feeds are ok, this year). Set up an official show blog with comments, chat, all handouts and ppt. Establish flickr and YouTube accounts, push a Radio08Austin tag, let all contribute. Enable and encourage export, sharing of all assets via CC license.

Engage the first tribe of wireless in the from scratch, blank canvas agenda creation. Allow all who wish to design and pitch a session using the SXSW model. Establish a wiki to design the conference particulars down to the food. Enable and encourage voting on the sessions pitched, again ala SXSW. Bake diversity into the steering committee. Create a new revenue stream by offering remote conference attendance. Qualify presenters. What have you done in the past six months that no one would question is totally amazing and game-changing, industry-changing? Show us. Ensure a mix of the wise sage and the young gun. More women! Fewer old white guys!

When Ron Fell ran The Gavin Report he once told me he wanted his conferences to "make a difference." Ron inspired me to do a great session at his conference the one and only time that I was invited to present. Pages of the leave behind from that session are still sent to me, the session still mentioned when I meet people. Ron raised the bar. He told me "let's give them something that makes them feel good about deciding to be at The Gavin, we have to give them practical things they can use, something that will help them to win and make them look good to their boss."

Thanks, Ron. You said it better than I ever could have.

Good luck, Steve. No disrespect intended, you have moved things forward and made some progress. We still need much more. Game on.

Congrats & cheers: Radio programming ace Fred Jacobs and the Jacobs Media crew are inviting you to participate in an election. Your choice for President of Radio. Mad cool concept. More info here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children." Madeleine L'Engle

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."
Malcolm X

Today's image: Confusion by dave nitsche. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

All or Nothing

Pick one

The July numbers are not encouraging.

Seems that folks are finally coming around to understanding some of what we have been blogging about here. The economy, as related to the ad spend, will not get better this year and next year will - most likely - be flat for radio, down for television, up single digits for interactive and the days of double digit growth for cable are clearly behind us.

The solution set (suggested here previously) involves getting different. Those that continue to waste valuable time and resources trying to get better will fail.

Here's the simple truth...There has never been a better time to be working in electronic media.

Trade secret: On the day job our most successful clients are using the Kevin Sweeney "4 Point Pitch."

1. [Target demo] is important your business.
2. Traditional media do not effectively reach this important market.
3. [Company name] efficiently reaches this important market daily.
4. Here is our strategy for improving your share with this important market.

Granted, this is much more work, exceedingly more difficult, than submitting on an avail. This is about creating wealth by adding genuine value. It's about relationships and delivering measurable results.

You can complain about the economy, burn bandwidth in another blame storming session or you can stop doing what's not working and begin the reinvention of your business. Word to the wise - those that wait for things to get better will not have jobs next year. [Hint: Automotive is not coming back, it's over, Sparky. If the CEO of your company is blaming the economy you need to get busy planning your escape, you deserve to work for a much smarter person. Life is too long to work for idiots. Friends don't let friends work for hacks.]

Closed circuit to Big Co: Here's a clue for that certain large organization that has a music player in private beta, it's the one that I am not allowed to talk about, blog about or suggest to others. Your beta sucks. No, your beta really sucks. The solution. Stop burning money and buy Pandora or Grooveshark, it's mad cool. Thank me later.

Bonus: Black vinyl fashback, Chicago style. Ronnie Rice & The New Colony Six - I Will Always Think About You via YouTube here. "...the nights, the lights were yours and mine, it's true..." A special long distance dedication ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." Albert Camus

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." Mark Twain

"The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." Ayn Rand

Today's image: Just hanging around by Immagina. Awesome. Thank you for sharing.

Bonus: Can you guess where my accent is from?

Congrats & cheers: Grooveshark up and running in private beta. [Related: blog] Thanks for the invite.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." Maya Angelou

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon

"Never judge a book by its movie." J.W. Eagan

Today's image: Untitled by Mr. Bones. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Beautiful weekend here in Wisconsin.

BFF Fred Winston has been shooting and uploading some remarkable images and is pairing them with quotations. Great stuff, take a look here. Kudos, Fred.

VOTE: The 2009 SXSW Panel Picker is live here.

Choice: Marketing maven and branding ace Tom Asacker shares writing from the new Phil Fragasso book [Marketing for Rainmakers: 52 Rules of Engagement to Attract and Retain Customers for Life - Amazon info]. Tom promises this to be the first in a series...

"As counterintuitive as it sounds, the surest way to lose customers is to give them too many choices. People are inundated with decision-making responsibilities. Think about your own life. Every single day you’re faced with literally hundreds of personal and professional decisions. Take a walk through your local grocery store and if your choice of cereals, shampoos, sodas, detergents, and breads don’t approach a thousand different options then you’re living in the wrong neighborhood."

Read Tom's entire post here. Thanks for sharing, Tom. Well done! [Hint: All the smart kids have Tom in their reader, highly recommended]

Tom's post reminded me of some long ago discussions. Involved in the turnaround of a major market radio property I complained to friends about the over-crowded competition in the format and the number of stations targeting the same demo.

One of my friends, working in packaged goods (breakfast foods, dry cereal) suggested she would gladly trade places with me. "Having five or ten direct competitors is nothing, try breaking through the clutter when you're up against hundreds of competitors."

Another friend, a writer of business books, agreed, telling me "Compared to the cereal isle in a grocery or the business section of a book store you have very little competition."

Sometime later a friend working at Coke USA said to me "It's not important that they are drinking Coke, what's actually important is why they are not drinking Pepsi."

In that moment my attitude changed forever.

It's like the first time de Bono reached you or when you first grok Mozart, Bronowski, Stanislavski, Tony Schwartz, Locke, Rosser Reeves, Picasso, Ogilvy, Hume, Dusenberry, Drucker, Bucky Fuller, Miro, Isaac Stern or Kasparov.

We achieved great success in that turnaround just mentioned, from last on the ranker to the top, worst to first. The lesson was to change the perspective, the pov, from the small cluster of direct competitors to all possible choices.

We moved from focusing on the numerator to changing the denominator. We stopped thinking about market share and started thinking about market creation.

From the smaller format and demo battles to the much larger share of media behavior and attention war. The result was we gave up getting better and became obsessed with getting different, dramatically different.

Here's a trade secret - once we allowed the users to define us the competition was half-won.

Create contrast.
Differentiate or die.
Get into the behavior - give them reasons
Increase preference - give them reasons to come back

"Be so good they can't ignore you."
Steve Martin

Cartoon by Steve Benson. Outstanding, Steve! Thanks for sharing.

Now reading: The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics - Leonard Susskind. Brilliant! Damn good read. [Amazon info] My sense is Brian Greene and Lisa Randall are better writers, however, Lenny makes his case with a solid and very interesting presentation. Some math included.

Bonus: Phil Hall, radio programming ace and fellow former Okie, tells it like it is...

"It’s time for radio to step-up. We have to focus on the right things again. Listeners take care of advertisers who take care of revenue who take care of shareholders."

Read his entire post here. Bravos, Phil. Well said, as ever.

Thinking out loud
: Not certain the POTUS candidates have yet addressed, in depth, telecom, net neutrality, spectrum and other critical communications issues. Emailed both campaigns after reviewing their sites today. Expecting nothing more than an intern or other unpaid staffer to respond. FAIL.

Congrats & cheers: Jeff Jarvis, the buzz machine his own self, scores the gold this morning with Howie on Reliable, to wit:

"Forget for a moment the financial allocation. The journalistic allocation, we over-cover politics and under-cover government. We under-cover life and what really matters to people. We think that politics is life, and it's not."

Bravos, Jeff! You done good. CNN transcript here. Jeff's take here.

My thanks to Michelle Oshen for the tip via FF on the above Cecil Beaton image.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Very simple ideas lie within the reach only of complex minds." Remy de Gourmont

"Some people do not become thinkers simply because their memories are too good." Friedrich Nietzsche

"Clear your mind of can't." Samuel Johnson

Today's image: Seashore Afterglow dusk June 2008 by courtneyplatt. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Five reasons you need to be on FriendFeed

1. Deep dive. It's the best free lunch in social media. You'll encounter life streaming in what is practically real-time. Put yourself into the conversation and enjoy it without risk.

2. Application immersion. Become aware of the apps of the moment. The ones you know are there (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, digg, StumbleUpon, Flickr, Pandora,, delicious, LinkedIn) and a great variety of some you may not be as familiar with including vimeo, plurk, twirl,, bookmarklet, tumblr, disque, toluu, pownce,, jaiku, yelp, diigo, seesmic, mixx and brightkite. Become aware of them, test drive those that interest you, get involved with the ones that matter to you.

3. Betaland. Subscribe to the "invites" room and check out those inside the inside beta offers. FF is a leading edge community and as such invites to the A list betas are often found on offer, yours for the taking.

4. Discovery. While there are certainly a great many sites worth your bandwidth, the ROI on FF is without equal. The right mix of friends will help you to discover a wealth of wonderful things. Focus on getting your subscriptions in harmony with your interests. You love photography? Thomas Hawk is a must-subscribe. Enjoy being on the cutting edge of PR? Steve Rubel is your guy. There is a group of friends for every possible interest. As a hardcore autodidact, I find FF to be a firehose of data that has proven to be well worth the parse. If you are serious about learning FF is an app you should be using daily.

5. Connect. As readers here are aware, this is the summer of FriendFeed for me. The experiment was to get deep into FriendFeed and find out what was really happening with social media. In that process I have made new friends, discovered an amazing number of new things and become connected with leading edge folks from all over the world. My sense is this is a connection with what is happening now, what is going on at the leading edge of social media, this is a preview, a peak into things to come, an early work in progress. One you cannot afford, should just not allow, to pass you by.

That's the quick sketch.

Now, the option is yours.

Do you jump in and sign-up? Get started, get engaged, come and play, be a part of this cool new adventure?


Would you rather just read about it? Hear about it? Jump in later when everyone else is telling you it's cool? Wait to sign up when those you know are getting involved?

Leader or fast follower - which best describes you?

Yeah, thought so. If you are still reading this, let's dance. Sign up here. Subscribe to me dmartin and I'll subscribe to you.

And the hits just keep on coming: Oasis. The Shock of the Lightning. Thanks, Mark. Clearly, the men of Manchester are back. "I wanted to write music that had a groove, not songs that followed the traditional pattern of verse, chorus and middle eight" Noel Gallagher [via Song Blog, thanks to Ashley]. Congrats & cheers to Chris Moyles who broke the tune earlier today on BBC Radio 1 with Noel along side.

Bonus: Face Your Manga. All the cool kids are doing it so I had to face mine.

Regular readers of this blog will have seen the following video and they will want to watch it again. For those of you never having heard of Sir Ken Robinson, well you're in for a special treat. Prepare to be wrong!

Have a great weekend. See you next week in a brand new show.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"There is no strong performance without a little fascination in the performer." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"America is the only country ever founded on the printed word." Marshall McLuhan

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead." Louisa May Alcott

Today's image: Tea by the doll is mine. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

Brian Solis is one of the bright stars working in the PR trade today. I enjoy reading him...

"Those PR professionals that get it, will understand that much in the same way bloggers have created and earned notoriety and influence, that they too can harness the democratized, Social Web to cultivate an influential platform for which to help businesses generate strategic mindshare and presence. However, it requires an entirely new approach, mindset, commitment, and re-dedication to improving your craft, and with it, the rest of the industry will follow in your footsteps."

Bravos, Brian. Well done. Read Brian's entire post, PR 2.0: PR is Not Dead here.

Congrats & cheers: Radio programming ace Patty Martin, format architect Greg Solk, general manager Jerry Schnacke & all involved on the simply incredible pre-currency performance of WDRV 97.1 The Drive. My sense is these folks just might make Chicago radio history once currency happens. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Wit has truth in it; wiscracking is simply calisthenics with words." Dorothy Parker

"The more intelligent a man is, the more originality he discovers in men. Ordinary people see no difference between men." Blaise Pascal

"Our most important thoughts are those which contradict our emotions." Paul Valery

Today's image: untitled by R.E.M. 2. Great shooting. Thanks for sharing.

A Tribute to Amazing: Lili Keller is one of the most amazing people I have the good fortune to know. She's retiring after 28 years with Bonneville.

She took time to take my call today and we laughed, we remembered the wonderful times we had working together at 101.9, what is now one of the most successful radio stations in the nation, WTMX in Chicago. Truth be known I owe the success I enjoyed at Bonneville to the incredible people that were on staff including the amazing and gifted Lili Keller. It's vogue to say you're good at keeping it real but Lili is the world-class champion, a master of that particular meme. The woman has a hardwired BS detector the likes of which are not only exceedingly rare but totally refreshing, it's the stuff of pure unadulterated candor. When I want the unvarnished reality Lili always serves it up straight, no chaser and without reservation. That's how she rolls. She's a rock star that works behind the scenes and makes things happen.

Lili reminded me of something I used to say all those many years ago to wit:

"This is not a life saving hospital, we are not looking for a cure for cancer, this is only a radio station."

Perspective as Gary Hamel reminds is worth ten IQ points.

Too many managers take their jobs so seriously that they are guilty of killing the possible, they beat the life out of the creative process, making it difficult and boring work. Art is a very fragile thing that requires imagination, spirit, encouragement, tireless dedication and love. Greatness demands that you go to work ready and enthusiastic about achieving the impossible. There is a significant difference between being serious about your craft and taking your job (and yourself) too seriously. It's a matter of compassion vs compliance. It's about respecting, honoring, supporting the people that come to play.

Until you are able to have fun on the job nothing exceptional is going to happen.

Until you are able to create the environment that brings out the best in others nothing remarkable is going to happen.

Until you dial the fun up to eleven and have people truly excited about coming to work nothing great is going to happen.

Until you live, breath, sleep and dream the show, the show will have no chance of being a hit.

Until you understand that hits start with attitude and bold decisive action nothing amazing is going to happen. Going for greatness demands sacrifice and pays rewards in tangible and important intangible ways. There is a very special magic in audacity.

Until you dare to put your heart and soul into it nothing even close to breathtaking is going to happen. Nourish the spark, feed the flame.

Until you care about the results and care not at all about who gets the credit nothing memorable is going to happen.

Happy people, people that deeply love their jobs, consistently do the best work. Time does fly when you're having fun. You look up and you've run out of daylight, you're pressing into the night and lovin every minute. When you work harder than you have ever worked, your food tastes better, sleep is refreshing and you deliver killer results. In my experience, working 12 hours a day dramatically improves your luck. The best pressure is the custom pressure that only you can create.

I learned a bunch from Lili Keller. Most importantly, I learned that no one ever really worked for me (especially those said to be "direct reports"). The simple facts are - I worked for them. For me it remains an honor and a privilege to serve the stars of the show. I'm reminded of the legendary maestro Ben Zander who said "The conductor of an orchestra does not make a sound."

Thanks for the great memories and the fun, Lili. Thanks, more than anything, for being Lili. All the best to you and Bob.

Want to read more on leadership? Month after month, the most popular post on this blog is from 2004 and it's all about leadership. Check it out here.

Refresh: Derek Sivers wrote something in 2005 that is making its way around again. If you click on only one link today you should check out Merlin Mann here. Thank me later.

Mel is so, money: Mel is at it again. A man reborn, making good copy and ready to rumble. About his newly super sized pay radio dodge he tells the New York Post "We're going to be the most successful company in radio." We are perhaps witness to the final act of this once close but no cigar mogul. Looks like Mel is all in on this deal. He appears close to owning yet another distinction, being the media underdog people love to hate. His boys downtown don't seem to be liking the dog food. Check out what Goldman had to say, ouch! Coming next the $400 mil in cost savings and knocking at the backstage door those pesky billions in debt. We've got a great seat to watch the media miracle of modern times or the best paid failure since the big three auto makers. Either way, book it for a case study and stay tuned. The Post article here. [FD: On this blog, I called the odds 6 to 5 against the merger. Once upon a time or two I worked for Mel and consider him, warts and all, to be brilliant and consistently over paid]

Congrats & cheers: Radio programming ace Tony Coles named VP programming and operations Clear Channel, Chicago. Uber-mensch and radio legend Dennis Constantine honored by R&R with their Laura Ellen Hopper Visionary Award and a Erica Farber Publisher's Profile here. When I hear Laura's name good things come to mind. I commend R&R for naming an award after Laura and for their wisdom in honoring Dennis. Laura was one of radio's most gifted. Laura was the runaway teen who drifted into KDNA, the bright young woman who went on to work with Jeremy Landsman and Lorenzo Milam. She lived the words of Larry Yurdin "Pose a threat to the normal way things are done." Laura Ellen Hopper made a difference.

Did you not take my suggestion and check out that Merlin Mann link? Here's the take away. The words of Derek Sivers. Please think about it...

"To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed.
They are just a multiplier.
Execution is worth millions."

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Having precise ideas often leads to a man doing nothing." Paul Valery

"The man who listens to reason is lost: Reason enslaves all whose minds are not strong enough to master her." George Bernard Shaw

"Colleges hate geniuses, just as convents hate saints." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today's image: untitled by Lisa at TSS. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Summer reading: Fiction. China Mieville. Finished Perdido Street Station - outstanding! Picked up Mieville's The Scar. This gentleman is an incredible, gifted writer. [Amazon info]

Cara's Basement: Cara chats up my girl Duffy at Chicago Lollapalooza. [Podcast - Listen in here]. Warwick Avenue the next US single - killer! [Official video via YouTube] Kudos to Cara.

Please, help this woman: Deborah Chesher is a published photographer [Amazon info]. Her rock star gets include George Harrison, Jerry Garcia and Frank Zappa. Now, her daughter is having brain surgery and Deborah is selling prints to help pay the bills. Get the story, see the prints here. If you're not able to buy a print, please share the link.

Congrats & cheers: Shel Israel signs Intel as sponsor of his Social Media Global Report.

Colonel Tribune

Give ten points to the gang at Tribune. Col Trib is on Twitter (1,287 updates and counting, 739 followers) setting things in motion for their second TweetUp. The Col is also on FF, brightkite, digg and more. Smart. [More TweetUp info]

Friday, August 08, 2008

"The mind's direction is more important than its progress." Joseph Joubert

"Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught." Oscar Wilde

"Everybody calls 'clear' those ideas which have the same degree of confusion as his own." Marcel Proust

Today's image: Stop! by tj scott. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Seth blogs The secret of the web (hint: it's a virtue)...

"I discovered a lucky secret the hard way about thirty years ago: you can outlast the other guys if you try. If you stick at stuff that bores them, it accrues. Drip, drip, drip you win."

Bravos, Seth. Well said. Read the entire post here.

Thanks for stopping by. See you next week in a brand new show.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent." Marlene vos Savant

"Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance...poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music." Ezra Pound

"I couldn't wait for I went ahead without it." Jonathan Winters

Today's image: blue skies by clumsy bird. Wonderful shot. Thanks for sharing.

Bonus: The Right Brain vs Left Brain test. Thanks to Dave Winer for the tip. The test indicated I'm a right brain guy. Try it. [Related - The Truth About the Spinning Dancer via New York Times.]

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"Genius is fostered by industry." Cicero

"My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions." Peter F. Drucker

"The more people believe something, the more apt it is to be wrong. The person who's right often has to stand alone." Kierkegaard

Today's image: Leave Nothing but Footprints by SheldonBranford. Awesome. Thank you for sharing.

Sweet: As first tipped yesterday, Bob Pittman & his Pilot Group Ventures score a solid, well deserved win. Back in 2003 Bob made a $3 mil investment in the ad-supported email newsletter DailyCandy. Credit founder Dany Levy [Related: How I Did It via] with the idea of sharing pop trends of the moment in a rich media, geo-centric push email format. Credit Bob for knowing a winner when he saw it. When Bob made his investment Dany enjoyed a bit over 200k subs, that would set the purchase price per sub at about $15. Yesterday Comcast acquired DailyCandy for $125 mil. Word is DC is running about 2.5 mil subs, should that be the case Comcast paid about $50 per sub. DC is said to be billing $25 mil in ad revenues and producing about $10 mil in EBITDA (40%). Congrats to Bob and to Comcast EVP Sam Schwartz. The one to watch now is Dany, she's just getting started.

Bonus: Google Insights for Search

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

"Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor." Hesiod

"Differentiation is a distancing designed to reduce the price sensitivity of the offering." Shiv S. Mathur

"There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and finish together. The public doesn't give a damn what happens in between." Thomas Beecham

Today's image: The way out? (from Hell) by Giampaolo Macorig. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

You're only as good
as the mavericks you hire

John Furrier makes an excellent point in his post about Yahoo! [Yahoo is Falling Apart - Please Clean House]...

"I am a big fan of Yahoo and what it has meant to the progress of the Web, but it’s time to clean house. I mean really clean house. Get 'mavericks' who can look beyond powerpoints and deliver product value."

Bruce Johnson, a mentor of mine, often said "Always hire the tie-breakers, the super achievers who consistently make a difference where it counts most, in the big things."

Your organization is only as good as the mavericks you hire. You need to hire, develop, encourage and support cognitive diversity. This requires that you gain an appetite and healthy respect for dissent.

Broadcast media have been "hiring safe" for decades and my sense is hiring much too safe. A perfect example from late in 2006: When reviewing the final three candidates for DOS, the person hired was not the most intelligent, not the most creative, not even the most enthusiastic. The person hired was the one of three that already had a business card reading DOS. The track record of the person hired was not particularly exceptional. In their most recent post they had kept an even pace with the market, that is, they were down about the same as the market over the past 24 months.

The most intelligent, creative and enthusiastic candidate was a maverick, a medium market general manager. The hiring manager was not able to get beyond two flaws in the maverick's resume - the candidate had been a GM for years (over-qualified) and lacked cluster DOS experience (previous combo GSM experience viewed as dated, irrelevant).

The safe hire was terminated after proving to be less effective, productive than was expected. The maverick went on to take a senior leadership role at a major media firm and is setting new records of achievement.

We need to surround ourselves with mavericks, advocates for getting different, champions of game-changing innovation, agents of change.

What's your ratio of mavericks to safe hires?

LOVE: Brian Oberkirch "But startups, like the rest of life, are a test of constant failures. What is the thing that refreshes and renews you and gets you back to the textmate file? Fame, greed, insecurity, opportunism. They go only so far. The greatest of these is love." Bravos to Brian and thanks to Susan Mernit via FF for the tip.

How to survive: Christopher Lochhead offers his advice [Up the downturn]...
  1. Strategy 1: Don't cut the budget.
  2. Strategy 2: If you have to cut, DO IT FAST, DO IT ONCE.
  3. Strategy 3: Put your best people on your biggest project.
Buzz: Nielsen selling trade pubs? Word around midtown is The Hollywood Reporter, Ad Week, Billboard and others including R&R might be going on the block. Bob Pittman selling DailyCandy to Comcast for $125 mil?

POV: Mark Whitaker, SVP of NBC News talks about his new job as NBC News Washington Bureau Chief via NPR [audio here].

The Official Site: Design Our Pepsi Can

Bonus: Polymeme
: A Polymath's Guide to News. Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Paris Hilton responds to McCain Ad: Funny or Die video via Mahalo. "I'll see you at the debates, bitches." Outstanding.

Congrats & cheers: Andrew Baron
keeps Rocketboom and inks seven-figure distribution and ad sales deal with Sony. Regator debuts, coming out of private beta, Thursday. John Battelle partners with Microsoft to launch music interactive beta CrowdFire.

Kudos: Today's most creative use of Google Street View [Related: Marry me, Leslie!] Thanks to Jess Lee via FF for the tip.

Monday, August 04, 2008

"Don't talk unless you can improve the silence." Vermont proverb

"You adapt, evolve, compete or die." Paul Tudor Jones

"When they slam the door in your face, you have to figure out the reasons. That's the essence of marketing." Marc Nathanson

Today's image: Renegade Silhouette Work Must Be Done by Thomas Hawk. Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

Kevin Kelly
@ 2007 EG Conference reviews what we've learned in the first 5,000 days of the web and previews the next 5,000 days. Kevin suggests the next 5,000 days will be different. Smarter, More personalized, More ubiquitous. Highly recommended. Bravos, Kevin! Outstanding.

  1. Copies have no value
  2. Value is in the uncopyable
  3. Media wants to be liquid
  4. Network effects rule
Kevin leaves his talk with a To Do list...
  1. There is only One machine
  2. The web is its OS
  3. All screens look into the One
  4. No bits will live outside the web
  5. To share is to gain
  6. Let the One read it
  7. The One is us

Bonus: Kevin's talk reminded me of recent discussions concerning the cloud which led me to look for Hugh's cartoon which led me to this post.

Video of the week: Watching Kevin's talk also reminded me of 1989, the year that the ABC Television Network invited Kevin in to give them his view on where the internet was headed. Which reminded me of a killer presentation made this past June at the Library of Congress by KSU professor Dr. Michael Wesch.
  1. Media is not content
  2. Media are not just tools of communication
  3. Media mediate human relations
  4. When media change > Human relations change
Highly recommended - An anthropological introduction to YouTube via YouTube here. Kudos to Michael and his students on their ongoing efforts.