Thursday, July 27, 2006

"No phone call, no muffin basket, no flowers, nothing." Don & Walt

The Steely Dan guys write an open letter to Luke Wilson about his brother Owen, here

The guys are on tour along with Michael McDonald. Check out venues and dates here

Google Radio. Elinor Mills covers the Detroit debut of the new Google dMarc-AdSense radio product....

"I think dMarc has an opportunity for us to connect with advertisers we don't normally interact with," said John Fullam, vice president and market manager for Greater Media Philadelphia who said this week that Google ads were already being tested on Greater Media radio stations in Detroit. "It's big for radio."

So why the excitement? dMarc automates the process of buying ads, placing them in time slots and tracking them, which is usually done by ad agencies over the phone, experts said. Automation could lead to efficiency, and that means lower prices for advertisers while bringing in more sales for the radio stations.

The Google-dMarc system would be a big change from the current ad-buying system, where ad salespeople establish personal relationships with radio stations, Fullam said. Advertisers could better quantify how well an ad campaign is doing and modify the ads quickly depending on the response rate from listeners, he said. Read the CNET News article here

Ear Candy. Wunderkind Bob Pittman of MTV, AOL and Daily Candy fame throws in with the gang, they plan to launch iLike a new social music discovery service. More via GigaOM here

Just say no. As a former resident of Dallas, former officer with CBS in Dallas and a former P1 of WRR the recurring news of a possible frequency+tower+cash swap for the city-owned station is always of interest. The latest seems to be a proposal to again trade the WRR commercial freq and tower lease for a non-commercial freq with associated xmtr location plus something like $50 mil in cash. My pov is the city can drive a much better bargain. So to my friends in Dallas here is an open offer of my services. Honored to assist the city in making the best of what you have and also interested in providing counsel and representation on any disposition options. On the latest offer - as I understand it - just say no. More via The Dallas Observer's Jim Schutze here Bravo Jim - good writing and job well done in keeping this issue where it the open.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Cultivate the habit of making quick, clean-cut decisions." William Swanson

From Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management, unwritten rule number 22:

"This does not mean one should act impulsively. Quick, clean-cut decisions are the product of a mind that trains itself to eliminate waste - to focus on value-added thinking.

Don't waffle or flip-flop. Stand by your decision unless you find out something new - or you discover that you were wrong. Then, quickly and cleanly, make it right."

Swanson's little book is a gem. And he offers a very important lesson here. Not making a decision is actually making a decision. In today's environment not making a decision, not taking action, often results in unintended consequences. Do your homework, make an informed decision, move forward, take action. Make something happen.

Having served, in a previous life, as both an MSO and a telephony (CLEC) guy, it is interesting to watch the RBOC gang roll out their play to retain control of broadband. Nobody does the black art of lobby better than the RBOCs. When they want something they "push the button" with great effect. Tom Evslin does an excellent job of putting this mess into perspective....

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The proverb applies to incumbents with huge market share (aka former monopolies) as well as to trees and schoolyard bullies. An enormous customer base paying comfortable margins makes it nearly impossible for an incumbent to fight a disruptor in the marketplace.

Disruptive technologies which provide new and better ways of doing things are all the rage."

Read Tom's post "Price - Toppling an Incumbent" here Please do also check out Tom's outstanding book here, highly recommended.

Jason calls Kevin out...

"Kevin Rose is going to make millions of dollars (perhaps tens of millions) when he sells DIGG to Yahoo (my best guess). When he does sell DIGG--and trust me it will be sold before in the next 12 months--he will have done it on the backs of those top 50 members. Those top 50 members will get exactly... ummm..... nothing. If I was running Netscape as a startup I would create a bonus pool for these users in the case the site gets bought. I can't do that given our structure, so we're gonna just pay folks. Kevin should do something similar." This simply serves to prove that money does make you stupid and lots of money tends to make you really stupid. There is more than enough for everyone. This is beginning to take on the flavor of a high school battle of the bands. Jason is correct in his observation that few outfits can/should/will going forward "own" a vertical, them days are pretty much behind us. More from Jason here

Image at top left (inspired by Jason) from the guy who draws cartoons on the back of business cards (mine included) the consistently amazing Hugh Macleod, jump into his gaping void here

Wonderful lunch earlier this week on Chicago's near west side. The Parthenon in Greek Town. The pan fried eggplant was superb.

When the phone rings at Arbitron it's never good news. Gerry has an idea...

Radio has lost listeners to other entertainment outlets. By continuing to allow Arbitron methodology to force programming toward the lowest common denominator, radio will continue to perpetrate the crime of chasing listeners away...and further isolating potential listeners, not to mention clients that want to reach a more affluent audience.

Am I offering a specific solution? Yeah, bring back Hooper.

This company operated strictly by phone and one-on-one encounters to provide specific information about listening habits. "What are you listening to right now? What stations have you listened to in the past hour? What have you listened to in the past 24 hours? What is your favorite station?" Information would also be gathered about the respondents' age, marital status, income and ethnicity.

Some might doubt the validity of the responses. What? Like the respondents will be more accurate because they are asked to write this information down? PPM the ultimate solution, you say? Right, and the stations the things pick up in department stores should count equally as those stations the respondents choose to listen to. An improvement over diaries, sure, but not as big an improvement as...well, as Hooper.

The fact is, measuring audience is an inexact science at best. But I think we all believe we could do better than we're doing now. My question: Why aren't we trying harder?

Read all of Cagle's commentary here

My take is the exceedingly poor revenue environment has station and group management looking "outside" for excuses. Arbitron has always been one of the pinatas of choice in such times. It has been often said, when the phone rings in Columbia, or New York, or any office of Arbitron, odds are ten to one it's not a cheerful thank-you-for-doing-a-great-job call. #1 stations don't pick-up the phone to call their Arbitron reps and say thanks for the great book nor do they give any credit or praise to Arbitron for the accurate nature of those #1 estimates. The rocks go with the farm as my friend Larry Bentson says. As to bringing back C.E. Hooper in place of the estimates we now have on offer - no thanks. I must respectfully disagree with my former RKO colleague, the perennially uber-cool Gerry Cagle. The estimates produced by Arbitron are just about the best that can be produced given the methodology. Measuring audio media is a lot harder mission than it first appears to be. Agreed - the diary produces a rather crude data set, PPM is a light jump to a much superior method of capture, trade offs are inherent. Cognitive (literacy dependent) measure versus Passive capture. Recall versus Exposure. What we are facing is a sea change. The charge of programmers will be to get their audio played in as many environments as is possible. For my money the Arbitron PPM solution is the much needed next step. The problems with programming come not from chasing bad metrics, the wellspring is a leadership problem, a failure of imagination and a crisis in sales (subject matter written about here for years now). But wait, there's more...commercial estimates are just around the corner. If you think our sellers are outmatched now, stay tuned. Increasingly, smart programmers have two issues down cold...the dynamics of population in their DMA (including the practical implications of cohort replacement) and the exploitation of physics, the leverage of change in the multi-platform mediascape. Most importantly, they also excel at working closely with sales, inventing fresh new ways to create, sustain new revenues (this being the principal failure of practice at most broadcast especially public broadcasting).

The avail becomes blood sport. The days of the #1 sales department in town almost always being in residence at the #1 rated station in town is in decline. Transactional while certainly not dead is but a wee bit away from requiring life support. The entire tradition of the bid ask process now approaching incubation. The halcyon days of "push print and buy" are all but over and we are approaching the late afternoon of those storied days. The missing metier? Leadership. We have not one but two entire generations of management schooled in the finer points of transactional. Don't read me wrong here. Those that are great at programming (i.e., delivering winning numbers to the sales department) and those that are great at converting more than their fair share (e.g., sales leadership posting a close to, at or over a 2.0 power ratio) are champions, they are swinging for the fences, they are today's winners - no buts, ands or ifs. The real issue is...they are getting better and better at a game that is being played less and less. One perfect example is what happened to FM with pictures (that's the media commonly called television by those not in the trade) when auto went off the rez. Transactional is the nasty crack habit that must be marginalized. Transactional must be made to be the over the transom gravy, the gift that national too often once was in the years long since gone. Continuing to send sellers to work in what amounts to a game of optimization may well buy you today but it is not anything close to the activity nor the investment required to stay in the game. Hard work, game-changing innovation, abandonment and original thinking are the costs of doing business, the entry level investments, the ante, media will be made to pay to survive in the flat world just ahead. Showing up is just no longer good enough. Important, yes, but not good enough. Game on.

Just who the hell is this Brian Maloney? - Redux:

Hey, I'm getting the same introduction spam you are. Again, no idea who the scribbler is but he seems to be in the process of getting an education. Yep, Brian's little comments have attracted the attention of Ed Seeger, a good broadcaster and a fine gentleman by any measure. Further, Brian's generous, free-wheeling use of editorial linkage has come under the ever watchful eye of one James Smith, yes - that seasoned Chicago, and other major market, vet affectionately known to locals as Juke Box Jimmy. Class is in. You may catch Brian's so-called writing along with Ed and Jim's comments here Closed circuit to Tom Taylor: stop this man before he hurts himself again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Imagination is the last legal means of gaining an unfair advantage over the competition." Fallon & Senn

Just finished the Pat Fallon & Fred Senn book "Juicing the Orange" and highly recommend it.

In the final chapter of their book they write about the future of creative leverage...

"1. Creativity will be an increasingly essential business tool. Think about the challenges of your own organization this way: other than creativity, what points of leverage do you have? More than likely, your resources will become more constrained, and your markets will be more hotly contested. If you can't put creativity to good use, you'll be vulnerable - to competitors from anywhere in the world. We opened this book by saying imagination was the last remaining legal means to get an edge on the competition. Increasingly, it's the only means.

2. You can't buy creativity, but you can unlock it. Everyone draws from the same talent pool, and only the George Steinbrenners of the world have any recruiting advantage. Salary, benefits, and geographical amenities won't necessarily determine the creative power of your company. 'It is easier to enhance creativity by changing conditions in the environment,' writes psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 'than by trying to make people think more creatively.' Rather than hire more creative people, first unleash the creativity in the people you have on the payroll.

3. Creativity is not an easy path to walk but the rewards are worth it."

Amazon info here

Jay Rosen announces his very cool NewAssignment.Net project here

Ad Council creative + $300 million bucks in inventory to run it = traffic to this site

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Look for what is missing. Many know how to improve what's there; few can see what isn't there." William Swanson

From Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management, unwritten rule number four:

"It is human nature to focus on what is in a presentation, but sometimes what isn't there is even more important.

Always think about what's missing; it's amazing what you'll find.

This is what leaders are looking for in individuals who are coming up in the organization. Are these individuals pushing the corners of the box? Are they energizing the team and its thinking?

This is a rare quality that few have. It can and should be developed."

Fox bows their 17-24 targeted site Fox Atomic, check it out here

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"People don't buy what they need. They buy what they want." Seth Godin

The spring radio numbers are the single most important measure used to determine demand on inventory for the rest of the year. The summer numbers have never been important. So goes your spring book so go your sales until the fall numbers are released.

The Doc of Rock, Doug Podell, delivers a 5.0 in Detroit. More solid evidence that Podell's WRIF is more than a rock station, it has become a Michigan institution.

Jerry Lee again proves that an indie operator can win against all odds. Jerry's WBEB is #1 in Philly with a 7.1

Jeff Warshaw puts on a brand new FM in Bloomington, IL and turns in a #2, 25-54 in his second book.

And finally to Chicago where Steve Dahl continues to post very competitive numbers. Steve remains the only listenable program on WCKG. My guess is there are more people listening to police scanners and weather radio in Chicago than are listening to WCKG in the total combined hours when Steve is not on the air. Wait a minute, perhaps some sales manager will discover a way to sell ads on baby monitors, another listenership base potentially larger than WCKG minus Steve. Quarter-hour 25-54 persons Steve delivers 30,800 in the spring book, this compares to Rover's 8,100 and the Stan & Terry posting of 9,900. That Steve continues to rank in the top ten 25-54, book after book, is a tribute to not only how very good his show continues to be, moreover, it clearly demonstrates the obvious loyalties of his considerable following. People are tuning into the radio station for one and only one reason - Steve.

Doug, Jerry. Jeff and Steve. Each making something original happen on the radio, each rewarded by the audience. Congrats to all. All that's important is what comes out of the speakers, everything else is a footnote. It was ever thus.

LATER - please allow me to address a rule of engagement issue. Comments are moderated to avoid spam, to discard the profane, and prevent the occasional libelous rant. My suggestion is those folk seek out one of the many boards where that stuff plays. Thanks.

A couple of emails come in each week about the Latin in the header. Tonight we are featuring Cato Senior "Rem tene, verba sequentur" or Keep (stay on) the subject, the words will follow. And for those fellow JCL folks you know that phrase includes a deponent verb, the imperative mood, the future tense of the third conjugation, the fifth-declension. It's late I might be off on this one but you'll correct me should this be wrong. Ok, I love classical language, busted. Please do share any favorite Latin (or Greek) phrases.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Talent terminated before the release of their last book will invariably post great numbers. This achievement will be most pronounced when their replacement has not yet been signed or announced." Martin's Hypothesis #12

Submitted for your approval, the Chicago talent Mancow. Last week it was announced that he had done his last show, the end of eight years at WKQX. This week the ratings are released and the now homeless in Chicago morning star puts up a #2, 25-54 men. His national network show continues. And so it goes.

Tale of two talents. Mancow turned in an excellent final performance but what about the other Emmis Chicago star - Johnny B? As it happens Johnny B's spring numbers were down about equal to the morning numbers WLUP had before he arrived. Ouch.

In the city CC delivers another great sweep with Jim Ryan again leading the way. WBLS had a killer book, their morning show jumping into the top five. O&A get it done for Free FM. In LA KFI is #1 12+ (Robin Bertolucci is a rock star), KCBS is the first JACK, so far to post a big win in this round of sweeps. In Chicago, Drew Horowitz turns in another exceptional performance with his Bonneville cluster, Michael Damsky has a great book at WXRT, Kipper McGee programmed WLS is the #1 AM station (where it counts 25-54) and Earl Jones enjoys major wins with WVAZ and WGCI (Earl's WKSC also takes the CHR 18-34 crown). Brian Kelly continues to hold a clinic on how to successfully program CHR, his WXSS in Milwaukee turns in another 7 share. Congrats and cheers to all.

Minding the store. CBS Radio makes a wise choice in St Louis - Mark Edwards is promoted to FM programming chief in that market. Kudos to CBS, congrats to Mark.

Laurie Cantillo joins John Gehron and named program director at Harpo Radio. John has always had a good ear for leaders. Congrats to Laurie, bravos to John.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"You can become a winner only if you are willing to walk over the edge." Damon Runyon

Congrats to Rob Sisco, President of Nielsen Music on being honored with the Rockwell Award. The lifetime achievement award was presented to Rob at this past weekend's annual gathering of The Conclave. Rob's incredible charm, gracious style and curious intellect have long set him apart from the pack. His achievements are too many to note here. The youngest major market program director in north America, principal in a highly successful international program production firm, lead advisor at one of the nation's cutting-edge direct marketing shops. Rob is a mensch, a winner and a friend. His finest hour is yet to come.

Kudos to Tom Kay, hearing The Conclave was, again, a total smash!

Speaking of winning, the famous Mr. Runyon also said "The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong but that's the way to bet." Back in the office this week. Some random thoughts...

Erica Farber will continue at the helm for Radio & Records once new owners VNU take over. Erica is at the top of her game, expect many good things from the new and improved R&R. Congrats and cheers to Erica and VNU.

The first, certainly not the last. Tribune cuts 120 jobs. CBS Radio layoff puts out 115. Two quarters to go + year-end clean up + 2007 planning + stagnant revenues + frail 07 rev forecast= expense scrutiny at the subatomic level. Soft spring books will only acerbate an already bad year. Welcome to extreme P&L where some get the home game. Chalk this up to playing the street game. As Pat Caddell once changed the rules of play in national politics so have broadcast CEOs and CFOs changed the day-to-day nature of operations at publically held media. It was Caddell who once wrote to president-elect Carter "Essentially, it is my thesis that governing with public approval requires a continuing campaign." We live in the era of media CEO as song and dance man. (Thanks to Joe Klein for the insight on Caddell, his book Politics Lost is a must read for news junkies).

The Weather Channel
offers Starcom, via an experiment, a commercial-viewership guarantee. Nielsen offering up "commercial numbers" makes it possible. Expect Arbitron to watch and follow with their own commercial numbers.

MTV Overdrive
inks what some are saying is a $300 million ad deal with OMD the shop with Cingular and PepsiCo among others. Congrats, this is good selling (and buying).

Cable wake up call. "The days of double digit cable (ad spend) growth are probably gone" according to Michael Nathanson, a media analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein said. (WSJ)

Working while others sleep. Then there's those Scripps guys, anything but your basic dead tree outfit. They own cable (The Food Network, Home & Garden Network) and online property (Shopzilla). Larry Haverty, portfolio manager at Gabelli Global Multimedia Trust says "...end of next year, new media cash flows will be about 65% of its total cash flow". Larry goes on to say cash flow growth for Scripps over the next three years to be easily in the 20% area. (Barrons)

Safe wager. Before year end every media company is again talking about their very exciting internet initiatives.

Riffs, rants & remarkable ideas. "Small is the new big only when the person running the small thinks big. Don't wait. Get small. Think big." A bunch of stuff you probably read earlier but might want to think about again. Sounds fun. You may preview and preorder the new Seth Godin book "Small is the New Big" here.

Adapted from her new book Francine Prose writes a killer essay in The Atlantic Fiction Issue. "I believed that I was learning to read in a whole new way. But this was only partly true. Because in fact I was merely relearning to read in an old way that I had learned, but forgotten."
What fundamental(s) has your team "learned, but forgotten?" How about writing? Crisp, concise, fresh, relevant writing - promos, teases, bumpers, commercials and news - will refresh your entire station. Think: high definition communication (thanks Dale Pon). Coming this fall, Francine's latest...Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. Amazon preorder info here. Speaking of writing, can the paid help wanted ads running in the trades be any more lame?

Closed circuit to Tom Taylor: Stop listing XM and Sirius in your "broadcast" stocks, no one cares. The majority of ink that pay radio continues to get is in the broadcast trade, enough.

Make something happen this week. Out-think the other guys. Two major unfair advantages for radio...agility and imagination. All the best for great success in your spring book.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Interesting insight from the Youth Trends folks, data at left and following thanks to

The Males 16-25 Top 10 were:
1. Google 34%
2. ESPN 26%
3. Yahoo 21%
4. Facebook 17%
5. MySpace 13%
6. Amazon 11%
7. YouTube 9%
8. Major League Baseball 8%
9. iTunes 8%
10. Best Buy 8%

For females posting and sharing photos is big. "...You can essentially say: females are to digital photos as males are to sports" said Josh Weil of Youth Trends. Check the entire article by Debra Aho Williamson via here.

Keeping talent happy. Jason Calacanis gets it...

When you're on the business side your job is to:

  1. Keep talented folks focused on making great product.
  2. Get talented people paid (so they can focus on making great product)
  3. Let talented people grow and support the hell out of them (so they can focus on making great product)
  4. Make talented people feel comfortable that they are not going to get screwed (so they can focus on making great product)
  5. Make a bunch of money (so talented folks can get more money and get more focused on making great product)
And Jason goes on to say...

As I tell folks on our team, there are three types of people in the world:
  1. People who make stuff.
  2. People who sell stuff.
  3. People support the first two groups of people.

Bravo Jason! Excellent counsel. Jason has learned the very important lesson of servant leadership. No matter what my business card "title" over the years my real role has been to serve gifted creative people. A first-time manager once said to me "when you were at WCCO or WBZ or CBS were all those big name personalities difficult to manage?" My response was I never tried to manage them. I worked for them. In my experience the exceptional, the best, the most gifted talent are always "difficult" (especially when you expect them to behave/think/live like "normal" people). I love so-called "difficult" talent. btw, every person on the team is talent, every person is a creative in their own way.

I would only add - on the business side it is also your job to spend a part of every day searching for and getting to know talented folks; continuous recruitment is mission critical, find gifted talent before you need them. Recruiting, developing and retaining great talent is job 1. Read Jason's entire post here.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"You can't polish a sneaker." William H. Swanson

From Swanson's unwritten rules of management, unwritten rule number 29:

"In other words, don't waste effort putting the finishing touches on something that has little substance to begin with. I apologize to those who dearly value their sneakers, but the point is, if you polish a hollow shell, it's still a hollow shell, albeit a shiny one.

Polishing a sneaker can inadvertently convince others that the sneaker has a value that it doesn't possess. This can distract an organization from important pursuits or lead an organization down a dead-end."

Gary Sutton, writes (in his book Corporate Canaries)...

"Your business is in deep trouble when...

1. Sales have dropped two years in a row.

2. The competitors' sales have dropped two years in a row.

3. Nobody's making money."

Broadcast needs a new business model. Things are not getting better, the best used by date has more than passed. For most this is another poor year. Efforts focused on "getting better" at the same business model is not the solution. It's a dangerous waste of time. In this context it is irrational to believe you can sell your way out of trouble or save your way to success. Clearly, we have a leadership problem. Too many GMs, MMs, regionals and corporate staff simply have no idea how to fix what's wrong. Rather than focus on driving topline they have become distracted, obsessed with micromanaging the operating income line. Too many corporate teams continue to employ outdated "financial engineering" practices in the futile attempt to buy another quarter with the street. What is needed now is nothing short of game-changing innovation. Let's take radio...

The first step is to stop rationalizing failure. GDP growth, retail sales, "the market" is not going to get better this year. Get over it. Stop putting lipstick on a pig. A 1.9 share is just that, a game losing 1.9 share, don't waste time polishing that sneaker (e.g., "the 12+ is up 1.9 from a 1.7 but the real story is we are up 42% men 35-44 middays, we've really turned the corner in this trend" - that's baloney, and you know it. Any PD giving you excuses like this might better serve the team in promotion or sales but you need to get them out of programming asap.). Leadership is paid to produce results not excuses.

Second, get serious about the question "what would have to happen for us to be successful?" Stop hiding the failures in the aggregate. Every property should produce and if they don't you have a problem that needs to be fixed. If they are not helping you they are hurting you.

Third, engage the talent, imagination and every resource available to drive the toplines of ratings and revenue.

Fourth, reinvent the sales department. Every other department has evolved, changed or been blown up over the past thirty years. Sales is past due. A failure of imagination is at work here.

Fifth, exit the managers that don't get it - staff needs responsible, accountable hands-on leadership not a scratch golfer or leaves early on Fridays "executive". Beware the MM or GM that advocates firing as a fix. Firing the $28K sales assistant, $23K receptionist and $52K NTR manager does not change or fix anything, it is a one time only savings that - in fact - only puts more pressure on retained staff. Should that same MM or GM also budget themselves for an increase in base next year (COLA or otherwise) you have the wrong person in charge. The person you need and the staff deserves is a great general manager.

It's here now...a perfect storm of crises..product and sales. Leadership needs to step up and make something happen. As the 2007 budget dance begins we need fresh thinking, new ideas, a new perspective...broadcast needs to reboot or else. All that's important is what comes out of the speakers, what's on the screen, everything else is a footnote. Want a discussion of specifics?

It has been said that during the final days of the last century a trained seal could have produced the same results as most general managers, it was hard to get out of the way of the money. People got paid large sums of cash to show up, manage the inventory and keep the cost of separating the commercials and running the joint to a minimum, ah the good ole days. Those days are not returning, welcome to the world of managing decline, of entropy, of systemic collapse. A new day where management is proud to say they were down this quarter but not as much as the market. This condition is, in my opinion, iatrogenic (a five dollar way of saying we, the experts, the professionals, did this to ourselves, we put the business in the hospital). Read on, more here.

One year ago today - the real deal on JACK FM here.

LATER - thanks, lots of emails on this multiple page post. Please allow me some time to get back to you. One point made by many - radio has not qualified under Sutton's point 3. Agreed, while radio has not yet returned to the days of 1993 when 60 out of every 100 stations lost money, it has seen two down sales years in a row. If we don't improve topline, operating margins(ebitda) will continue to erode. Broadcast is still a good business but we have an urgent need for business model reinvention.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"A blog interview with Jarvis would have said reams about their willingness to be open to criticism. Instead, the Dell blog reads like a corporate brochure. Dell could still turn it around if they hurry, but I fear this lack of candor will really set them back." Steve Rubel

What if? You were an OEM with a history of customer service problems. Those problems became the subject of negative blog posts about your company. How do you address the issues and stop being one of the blogosphere's favorite pinatas?

This is the issue facing Dell. It seems part of their solution is to start a blog, however, they have done that in exactly the wrong way. Steve Rubel comments here, Jeff Jarvis - Dell Hell Poster Blogger - here and here.

Google is hiring "audio" sellers...and going at it in the right way. The job description and qualifications are posted here:

  • BS/BA degree required, preferably from top-tier school.
  • 7+ years of media sales experience with proven success in attaining sales budgets.
  • Ability to work in a dynamic problem-solving environment and synthesize strategy, plans, and solutions.
  • In-depth knowledge of interactive and/or broadcast media and its competitive landscape.
  • Ability to provide the highest level of customer service.
  • Exceptional academic experience required.
  • Travel up to 50%
Hire smart or manage tough. Bravo to Google! The hunt for the best media sellers just got a lot more competitive. Compare and contrast this Google ad with ads being run by "interactive" and "broadcast." Worlds apart. The majority of broadcast sales managers would fail to meet these qualifications. Therein is one root cause of the present crisis in broadcast sales. Closed circuit to Google: include "cable" in your fourth bullet point, some strong sellers in that camp.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"It is a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another man's oration - nay, it is very easy; but to produce a better in its place is a work extremely troublesome." Plutarch

Lee Arnold
has favored us with a blog. As you may be aware, Lee is one very gifted gentleman. Join me in making his thoughts about promotion and marketing a regular habit. Lee's new blog is here. The two 80s R&R articles on rock radio are worth the jump this session.

Congrats Lee, and bravo - welcome to the conversation. (P.S. If you're a broadcaster you will want to share Lee's blog with your marketing and promotion team as he intends to offer special deals on merchandise via the blog).

Andrew is not in full boom yet...but the video and sound up today is still a fun break here.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Joanne Colan, former MTV EU vj, is said to be the new or perhaps temp Rocketboom gal. Rachel Sklar of ETP breaks (New Rocketboom Girl Chosen, Looks Strangely Like Old One) here.

Dave Winer confirms, and says...Andrew Baron confirmed via email this evening that the new interim host of RocketBoom is former MTV vj Joanne Colan. Dave also offers his usual spot-on pov on the rb phenom. Andrew is saying rb is back tomorrow morning.

Jarvis, Reynolds and Wood joined Howie Kurtz on this morning's Reliable Sources to chat about YouTube, cj, vlogging and the bigger picture of what it all means in msm context. Bravo to all. Excellent segment Howie. Kudos to Jeff, Glenn and Molly on their strong contributions. Closed circuit to Jason: Jeff continues to make the brilliant suggestion that CNN should offer program video, why not grab CNN content for Netscape. Start with segments or at the least clips.

Congrats to Osgood and his Sunday Morning crew (again #1) on posting their best second quarter average ever (4.75 mil total viewers, 3.4 rating this compares to second place Today posting 3.59 mil and 2.8).

The Sunday news show race dominated by Russert (3.59 mil tv), second Schieffer (2.79) and Stephanopoulos trails (2.51). It's the 35th consecutive quarterly win for MTP. Thanks to Media Life, more here

Ed Driscoll talks with Chris Anderson about this summer's must-read The Long Tail - 17 min via MP3 here

Jay Rosen is a rock star, again he knocks the cover off the ball...

The people formerly known as the audience wish to inform media people of our existence, and of a shift in power that goes with the platform shift you’ve all heard about. Read his post w/comments here

Killer thought by Dave Winer added to my header "People come back to places that send them away" Worth thinking about - his original post is here

More good reading, and thinking, from Geoffrey Moore...

2. Symbolic competence creates competitive advantage. On the web, as one cartoonist famously noted, no one knows you are a dog. All they experience about you is a function of your ability to manipulate vocabulary and symbols.

This puts liberal arts education in high relief. The digital world will move from being an engineering phenomenon to a cultural one. Memes, brands, reputations, causes—all will seek to recruit the most powerful symbolists to their ends.

Read his entire post (Top Ten Truths About the Digital Ecosystem) here

Back to the research: Finally have the time to return, part-time, to researching the beginnings of domestic black radio (WDIA, WERD, et al - 1940s and 1950s). Hope to complete research next year and begin writing a book on the subject. Should you or someone you know have subject matter expertise or have any professional insight I would love hearing about it. Thank you.

Nobody does it better: First place - running your mouth award to Mel Karmazin. The old man is on a roll lately, got his game on; few have the ability to gin up the biz, consumer and trade press better than he. While his remarks may not be pumping up his stock (as much as he wants) it's still fun to watch. The man senses blood in the water, XM is on his radar and it shows. Well played Mel. Kudos and bravo to my pal Gerry for calling it, right on the mark...

Nevertheless, anyone with a molecule of gray matter should be able to see through Mel's latest vision of grandeur. It's just a cheap and easy way to raise the company's profile by providing the meat for some fresh, new headlines on his company--which, judging by the coverage in fellow trades and industry Web sites, worked like a freaking charm. That's why they pay him the big bucks.

Blind squirrel finds acorn...Congrats to Radio Ink for finally putting the amazing Mark Masters on your 40 Most Powerful People list. Now, what happened to another legit media mogul - Nick Verbitsky? He heads the largest, most successful privately held network (with his partner, media icon Dick Clark). Hint: Next time use that clever little way you made Mark and Randall both #1, and Chad and Ryan together #40. You could open up the ranks for nine additional players by using the same convention to add John Hogan to #1, Scott Herman to #3, Judy Ellis to #4, Jon Pinch to #5, Rick Cummings to #7, Marc Morgan to #8, Catherine Hughes to #9, George Pine to #17, and John David to #21. Eric you should consider this as a way to get more realistic depth and diversity into your list. It needs work. Having said that, I'm on the record as not being a fan of these kind of lists. No matter, congrats to all making the 2006 list.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"If you can't solve a problem, it's because you're playing by the rules." Paul Arden

Another reason Jason Calacanis is a player: he appreciates talent. By now you have heard Amanda and Rocketboom are estranged (WaPo coverage here - the usual good writing by Sara Kehaulani Goo). Jason wastes no time in making her an the open, online...

So, my offer to you is do your daily report for Netscape and we'll pay you whatever you need to get paid AND you can own all of the rights to your video forever (just give us like a six month exclusive window on Netscape). We will set you up with our kick-ass studios, get you an office, and I've got a full-time video editor at your disposal (i.e. they can go with you anywhere). Also, we'll set up a travel budget so you can go cover whatever stories you want.

You're a star baby... it's time to be treated like one.

Kudos Jason, very smart move. Jason's Amanda blog entry here. Good luck Amanda.

Steve Safran writes "Rocketboom jumps the snark...Without Amanda, Rocketboom is just another podcast." More with comments here

Without talent you ain't got a show. Talent is perhaps the greatest of all proprietary intangibles. "The monopoly of personality" as my friend Mark Masters often says. WBZ legend Commander Larry Glick enjoyed a commanding lead in the Boston DMA but he also had an audience in 32 states, Canada and the better part of the western EU every night he was on. They tuned in to hear the Commander; our research showed the station was, in fact, "talent driven." When he was on vacation our listenership dropped off. As PJ says "In all of art, it's the singer, not the song."

Microsoft ready to bow its version of iPod? That's the buzz. Great send up of Microsoft package goods design, while it lasts, highly recommended, via YouTube here

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor." Capote

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up." Vince Lombardi

"You miss a 100 percent of the shots you don’t take." Wayne Gretzky

"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creative." Charles Mingus

"I am always doing things I can't do, that's how I get to do them." Picasso

"The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate." Thomas Watson, Sr.

Seth Godin has a fine post on sales, here are two of his nine plus points...

1. Selling is hard. Harder than you may ever realize. So, if I seem stressed, cut me some slack.

6. I have no earthly idea what really works. I don't know if it's lunch or that powerpoint or the Christmas card I sent last year. But you know what? You have no clue what works either. I'll keep experimenting if you will.

Bravo Seth, well said. Read Seth's "Nine things marketers ought to know about salespeople (and two bonuses)" here

"Let's continue to be known as an agency which spends more time trying to improve its theories rather than to defend them." Leo Burnett

The great Leo came to mind this morning as I read the well written piece by one of broadcasting's best, Jerry Lee.

The "obsession to buy cheap" is leading media buyers to make bad decisions, ones that may be working against effectiveness. He makes a strong case.

"In the U.K. , paying Creative Agencies based on the success of the campaign has now reached critical mass (56%). Can you envision one of these agencies sitting still for buying the wrong audience? I don't think so."

Thanks to Inside Radio you may read Jerry's writing via PDF here

Bravo Jerry! Good job. Cheers and kudos to Tom Taylor and Inside Radio for sharing.

Let me please add to the discussion. Media buyers have an advantage here, assisted by professional partners in their crimes, willing accomplices, creative highly trained co-conspirators. As the noted philosopher and sage Pogo once said "We have met the enemy and he is us!" Media sales people and their leadership are also a part of the problem. In the drive to grab share, to get on an order no-matter-what, the pressure to make the month because we must - without excuse, to improve pacing, to tighten rank spread in Miller-Kaplan...insert your reasons here...our sellers and their managers are putting clients into no-win or less than efficacious situations more often than any of us would like to admit. It is the avail turned blood sport.

Jerry is spot-on about frequency. However, in my experience, we more often sanction too little frequency rather than too much.

Too little (wrong) reach + too little (too much) frequency + weak (wrong) creative = chocolate mess (e.g., "yeah, we tried radio once, it didn't work").

More than is fair, good or right we fail to invest the attention, time, hard work and care required to breathe life into the right creative approach. In too many cases station creative, especially local direct, is just not our best work. Once the bullet points of the print or yellow pages ad are packed into the copy it's time to write up the production order ("jocks have fun with this"). Radio sellers and copywriters should deeply understand and agree with Dan O'Day's suggestion that "Radio is a highly visual medium" (sellers not able to make this case convincingly to advertisers require intervention - the sales managers involved need to be read Miranda and put on double secret probation). This holds especially true in that ubiquitous closing tool of choice - the value add.

Why are stations doing promotions for goods/services their audience has little or no interest in? We continue to ask one question in promotion meetings. If we offered this product/service free of charge to our staff would we end up with a fight on our hands because everyone would want it? (Do they know someone they are close to that would kill to have it - their wife, husband, significant other, child, parent?) If not, why should we expect our audience to want it? But wait...there's more. Not satisfied with promoting the exactly wrong product/service to their audience, too many station teams insist on going the extra mile. The end result - feature the client's unwanted product/service in a sweepstakes or giveaway. Entry requirements and procedures, by arcane design, will be demanding. So demanding that the team, and all other living persons known to them, would never consider their own participation in any such event, not even in a less than sober lets-have-a-few-beers-and-talk-shop moment. Hey, they're professionals after all, not, uh, contest players. Perhaps their professional skill sets in this specific area might be put to better use in the design of complex, daunting hoops of fire obstacle courses that entertain by daring the most fit and eager to please circus dogs.

"Look for our Miller Brothers Toyota van at the retailer you've never heard of between 4 and 4:40 today and stop by, register to win, then listen tomorrow morning, when you hear your name you'll have ten minutes to call and when you do, you'll automatically win the 20% off discount coupon, our cool summer t and be qualified to win in our big Friday afternoon drawing...and remember...keep asking everyone you see 'Are you the Z100 Pepsi-Chase Bank-Bow Wow Pet Center Mystery Dog Groomer'" Expecting listeners to do things that you would never do to win a prize you could care less about?

"I could heartily wish this had not befallen; but since it is as it is, mend it for your own good" so wrote Shakespeare. I appreciate and respect the daily press of affairs to get the business. It is the lack of imagination and creativity that is abhorrent. There are some really clever, effective, creative and successful promotions being executed by electronic media, it happens when the process gets the attention it deserves. The agenda should the product/service a good fit? Is the creative right? Is the message one that will print with our audience? Have we given them reasons to be interested, engaged, entertained or even care? Stop creating clutter, quit sending spam to your listeners and viewers, find a truly creative approach that works for the client, one that creatively engages your audience. Try it, it's fun (endless thanks to the gifted professionals I am blessed to work with).

Kevin Sweeney, my sales mentor, once told me about the pitch and the promotion he created to get his Los Angeles beautiful music station on an 18-34 buy, the product was an entry level motorcycle. Kevin's usual creative elan went to work in his thoughtful pitch. "You need to compliment the youth stations with the station reaching grandparents. We have the influence to tell grandparents that your fine bikes make excellent graduation, birthday and christmas gifts. Some will put this suggestion to use when selecting a gift for their grand children. At the same time, we can reach the parents of your buyers to let them know your bikes are safe and a smart investment compared to the ongoing operating costs related to a car purchase. We can get the grandparents to help suggest and sell the bikes while also providing the approval (and cash contribution) some of their children may need to justify (make) such a purchase." Of course, he was right, and...the promotion and the flight on his station was a major success. FYI - Kevin also insisted that he be allowed to craft a special message to his audience rather than using the same brilliant commercial created for the "youth market." The 18-34 stations not on the buy never understood what happened, could not imagine how Kevin had taken their money, that lost business report was probably among the best creative writing of their careers.

A long ago Saturday afternoon in one of his now famous copy and pitch writing classes Kevin assigned me funeral services, the Chicago yellow pages packed with page after page of the category. When I told him our audience had no interest in the subject matter, they just would not respond and besides the whole idea was a negative, a downer - he offered one of his typical brutally candid responses. "Dave, trust me, you will not purchase your own coffin, you ain't gonna make your own funeral arrangements pal." It was an important lesson in relevance. Relevance and creativity are a very powerful combination. THINK. Get on the listener side of the radio, the viewer side of the screen.

Which reminds me of two more classic Leo's and one vintage Burnbach...

"If you can't turn yourself into your customer, you probably shouldn't be in the ad writing business at all."

"I have learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one."

And Bill Burnbach..."Good advertising makes a bad product fail faster."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Why do we strive for excellence when mediocrity is required?"

"THERE is little demand in the commercial world for excellence. There is a much, much bigger demand for mediocrity."

"Everybody wants to be good, but not many are prepared to make the sacrifices it takes to be great. To many people, being nice in order to be liked is more important. There's equal merit in that, but you must not confuse being good with being liked. Most people are looking for a solution, a way to become good. There is no instant solution, the only way to learn is through experience and mistakes."

"You will become whoever you want to be." Paul Arden

Paul Arden has written two books that deserve your attention. The first is his 2003 gem, It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be (Amazon info here). At $7.95 it could be the best book buy of the year. Paul writes...

Don't expect top management to lead the way. They are too busy running the company. Decide you are going to make the company great; at least decide you are going to make a difference.

Arden's second must-read is Whatever You Think eht kniht .etisoppo (Amazon info here)...

What is a good idea? One that happens is. If it doesn't, it isn't.

It is better to live in ignorance than with knowledge. Solving the problem is the exciting part, not knowing the answer. Once a conjuring trick is explained it loses its magic. The excitement of a game of football is in not knowing who is going to be the winner. Some people have success and rest of their laurels. The lucky ones continue to live in ignorance.

Amazon has both books on offer for less than $15.00 plus shipping. Get yours.

Paul B. Brown reviews three books on creativity in the NY Times (The Elusive Goal of Corporate Creativity) and tells us the best of the lot is by Pat Fallon and Fred Senn, Juicing the Orange: How to Turn Creativity into a Powerful Business Advantage (Amazon info here)...

The authors, Pat Fallon and Fred Senn, founding partners of the ad agency Fallon Worldwide, say they believe that creativity can be not just harnessed, but also leveraged. They offer seven steps for doing so:

• Always start from scratch.
• "Demand a ruthlessly simple definition of the business problem."
• Find a "proprietary emotion" you can appeal to. "Marketers who favor reason over emotion," they write, "will find themselves quite literally forgotten."
• Think big. Don't be limited by the budget or the initial challenge.
• Take calculated risks.
• Collaborate with others both inside and outside your company to solve the problem.
• "Listen hard to your customers. (Then listen some more.)"

Bravo Paul - well done.

Dr Jerry Boulding tells it like it is, again and again...

"The policy of restricting our air-personalities (the few true, local ones that are still left) to back sells and liners has led to a less than compelling product overall. We risk continuing to lose our place as a primary medium unless we take the boredom out and replace it with something our listeners really want to hear.

Those urban stations that invest in and cultivate personality and creativity will score in years ahead. They will also be the ones that are then able to attract and keep the most creative personalities in the business. We have to realize that we missed some classes and ask ourselves are we prepared to attend the make-up classes necessary in order to make the grade we want? And for some, there are no make up classes.


Thank you very much and bravo Dr. B; sometimes the obvious, is indeed, the hardest to see. More of Dr. B's writing at Joel's AllAccess here (free sub req)