Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong." H.L. Mencken

"When everyone sings the same tune, the words are unimportant." Stanislaw J. Lec

"Love and art do not embrace what is beautiful but what is made beautiful by this embrace." Karl Kraus

Today's image: curses by cloudnine. Beautiful shot. Thank you for sharing.

Running your mouth is not good enough

Execution not excuses wins the day

A farewell to Howard & Mel

The final curtain draws nigh for pay radio. While it's possible to make reasonable cases in defense of a wide variety of "how" and "when" scenarios, it appears the "if" argument is all but off the table. Getting the capital to deal with debt and operating expenses will require more than the spreadsheet arithmetic and clever feel good pitch considered coup d'eclat in the last century. New rules of engagement: the uber-cool cash user has fallen from grace along with the trade craft of financial engineering. Now framed in the context of a macroeconomic calculus driven by a consumer led recession, credit crisis, auto industry melt down and weak ad market, making arrangements to pay down debt and getting operating capital to survive is a whole new game, one requiring a solid plan and execution without excuses. Moreover, the ethos, pathos of a Dickensian 2009 will favor those trading in back-to-basics essentials over peddlers of the ostentatious and discretionary. Budget is in, luxe is out.

For Howard and Mel a fresh reading of Henry V and a serious study of history seems appropriate. Stern and Karmazin are engaged in their own battle of Agincourt with Mel cast in the role of the French commander Charles d'Albret. As it happens, the terrain will again play a decisive role. This time around Henry V will be played by hundreds of little guys. The big aging acts of Howard and Mel must somehow be made to prevail in the brave new world of agile little guys who live and dream in perpetual beta. The value proposition of pay radio (and related business model) must be reinvented, convincingly sold to financiers, subscribers and advertisers. My sense is the show will go on for pay radio at least for a while. Mel can buy some time playing from the bottom of the CEO deck, the bankruptcy card.

For broadcasters who were once considered players it's a sad ending.


Five things to start doing in 2009

Monday, December 29, 2008

"One of the illusions is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it in your heart that every day is the best day of the year." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment." Henry David Thoreau

"Seize this very minute! What you can do, or think you can do, begin it!" Goethe

Today's image: Tormet Way by Paulo A. Lopes. Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

All That's Fit to Tweet: According to HubSpot 70% of Twitter users joined in 2008. This from HubSpot's State of the Twittersphere - Q4 2008 here. You'll find some interesting media folks on Twitter, the early adopters, expect more of the cool kids to catch up next year. Birds of a feather: Tweetree - Birds in a tree. Sidebar: HubSpot's Twitter Grader program ranked me 2,014 out of 803,262 Twitter folk graded.

Bravos & kudos: Chicago radio star Fred Winston. The Fred Winston Holiday Spectacular broadcast on WGN radio was a tasty holiday treat. Bonus: Just in time for New Years, get your very own copy of the famous Fred Winston's Chili recipe here. Bonus too: Check out Winston's uber-cool photos each paired with killer quotation, it don't get much better, all on his blog here.

Congrats & cheers: Darlene Love and all involved in the digital short via SNL - Christmas for the Jews Song [Video here]. Amazon enjoyed their best holiday sales season in 14 years - nearly 73 items ordered per second on December 15th, the season's peak sales day. George Johns writes about the real game-changing players, the gifted creatives and says "it's not our fault that there are no finance action figures." Read George's entire post here.

Have an amazing week. Make something happen!

Friday, December 26, 2008

"What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens." Robert McKee

"There are two things that have to happen before an idea catches on. One is that the idea should be good. The other is that it should fit in with the temper of the age. If it does not, even a good idea may well be passed by." Jawaharlal Nehru

"All change is not growth; as all movement is not forward." Ellen Glasgow

Today's image: leaf on water by mosippy. Great shot. Thank you for sharing.

The Clay Shirky interview w/CJR...

"A lot of working journalists, and especially print journalists, are in the position of being sort of kept women. They don’t really understand where the money comes from but, you know, their particular sugar daddy seems pretty flush, so they just never gave it much thought. And then one day the market crashes and they suddenly discover, 'Wait a minute, we were a business? And our revenues had to exceed our expenses every year? Why wasn’t I informed?'

Read the Shirky interview here. The CJR cover story Overload! here. Both highly recommended.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"A movie is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it." Roger Ebert

"Every time a man puts a new idea across, he faces a dozen men who thought of it before he did. But they only thought of it." Oren Arnold

"To find new things, take the path you took yesterday." John Burroughs

Today's image: The Shadow by DavidHR. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Winter storm warning. Snow, fog, 22 degrees here this morning. The sounds of plows and snow blowers fill the air.

Today is the last day our offices will be open in 2008. Ahead, more time for blogging. Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." Yeats

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present...As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew." Abraham Lincoln

"The creative mind is the playful mind. Philosophy is the play and dance of ideas." Eric

Today's image: Untitled by taylorjonesphoto. Great shooting. Thank you for sharing.

Do the right thing

Ad-supported measured media is a mess.

The fish stinks at the head first, my friend Eddie Ruben often said. My sense remains that what we have here is a leadership problem exacerbated by a massive failure of imagination.

Gary Hamel, long a favorite business strategist of this space, has written a book every CEO should read. I know it was recommended here last year but it merits a serious revisiting. If you're a CEO please read it again (or read it for the first time). If you're not the CEO gift this to your guy at the top, thank me later. Get the Amazon info here: The Future of Management

Dr Hamel's thesis is management is out of date. I agree with Hamel when he says "What ultimately constrains the performance of your organization is not its operating model, nor its business model, but its management model." It's time for management innovation and, in my considered opinion, it needs to start at the top.

Allow me to quote further from the preface to Hamel's writing...

"I dream of organizations that are capable of spontaneous renewal, where the drama of change is unaccompanied by the wrenching trauma of a turnaround. I dream of businesses where an electric current of innovation pulses through every activity, where the renegades always trump the reactionaries. I dream of companies that actually deserve the passion and creativity of the folks who work there, and naturally elicit the very best that people have to give. Of course, these are more than dreams; they are imperatives. They are do-or-die challenges for any company that hopes to thrive in the tumultuous times ahead - and they can be surmounted only with inspired management innovation."

It's time for management to do the right thing. Time to carefully review and examine the leadership of the organization.

Bonus: Chris Brogan ppt Social Media for Publishers here.

Pre-order: Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by N=1 house artiste Hugh MacLeod. Amazon info here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Work usually follows will." Louis Pasteur

"What is strength without a double share of wisdom? Strength's not made to rule, but to subserve, where wisdom bears command." John Milton

"It is better by a noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half of the evils we anticipate, than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what may happen." Herodotus

Today's image: Going by Gail Johnson. Amazing shot. Thanks for sharing.

Catch them doing something right: Chicago's first tribe of wireless gets high marks from radio programming ace Matt Dubiel for something they didn't even do...yet. Read Matt's post here.

IWM: The annual Media Person of the Year award goes to Arianna Huffington. Read more incl comments here. Kudos to Patrick Phillips.

Congrats & cheers: Second-generation broadcaster Kevin Metheny joins Tribune as programming chief at WGN radio. Kevin is a gifted leader certain to make a lasting, positive difference at WGN and Tribune.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"To be independent is the business of a few only; it is the privilege of the strong." Friedrich Nietzsche

"Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune." Nicholas Lang

"Art is simply a right method of doing things. The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces." Thomas Aquinas

Today's image: The man and the clock by rabataller. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Nine Predictions for 2009: Marketing maven Tom Asacker has a well written piece that deserves your attention. It's one worth sharing. Read and pass along. Bravos, Tom. Available via PDF here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone." Coco Chanel

"A powerful idea communicates some of its power to the man who contradicts it." Marcel Proust

"We should rather examine, who is better learned, than who is more learned." Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Today's image: blending in (031/365) by Katherine Elizabeth. Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

Jack Myers: Jack's team have revised their 2008-2010 Advertising and Marketing Investment Forecast. You may download a copy free here. Here's the headline version...

ADVERTISING DEPRESSION: It's Here and It's Sustained. Down 2.4% for 2008; -6.7% for 2009; and -2.3% for 2010. The brunt of the 6.9 percent fall-off in 2009 ad spend will be felt by newspapers (-15.0%), Yellow Pages (-14.0%), consumer magazines (-13.0%), radio (-12.0%), local television (-10.5%)...

Have an amazing week. Make something happen.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

"There is only one success: To be able to spend your life in your own way." Christopher Morley

"Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority." Thomas Huxley

"Prudence is a presumption of the future, contracted from the experience of time past." Thomas Hobbes

Today's image: Mystery Morning In The Palouse by kevin mcneal. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Submitted for your consideration, a case study in real-time, to wit:

You have a major talent working for your company. The talent is a market legend of thirty years making, respected by the industry as an accomplished, innovative performer; he has consistently produced top five ratings in the diary. For the past year the performer has been assigned to a morning drive shift after years of success doing afternoon drive at another station in your cluster. Performance in morning drive, as measured by the new PPM methodology, is significantly different and less competitive than that exhibited in previous diary created data. Management decides to take the talent off the air while assuming the obligation to pay the talent for the next two and one-half years of the performer's contract.

Of course, the reference is to Chicago media star Steve Dahl. He did his last show for CBS this past Friday. While CBS has, to my knowledge, not made any comment on the decision (a wise move since most covering their equity only know what they read), we have the penchant for transparency of Steve Dahl himself to thank for a bit of back story. Steve made mention of the meter during his last show, suggesting music programming did better in the meter numbers and was less expensive programming.

We now come to the issues of this business case.

  1. Did management make the right decision in assigning Steve Dahl from afternoons at its Free FM talk station to mornings on its music intensive Jack FM station?
  2. Did management provide those resources necessary to ensure the probability of success in the highly competitive morning drive environment? (The counsel of a mentor, Paul Drew, comes to mind. Did Steve have a "better than even chance to win.")
  3. Once PPM data was in hand what corrective measures did management take to improve performance? Was Steve provided the direction, dedication of resources, deemed requisite to move the needle and improve performance? Were sellers provided the direction, support needed to build revenues needed to generate an acceptable profit?
  4. If we stipulate continuing to do mornings on WJMK was not an option, what other options were prospectively available to management without regard to the election to pay and not play? Is it not management's responsibility to explore any and all options to retain Steve Dahl including those beyond the conditions and scope of the existing agreement?
Clearly, management decided it was better to have Steve Dahl off the air and paying him than on the air in some other assignment.

Many have said the larger-than-life personality was not a good fit on Jack FM, the bold contrarian move of putting a high profile talent on a jockless station risky from day one. While it is perhaps convenient to argue that Dahl failed to improve the station's ratings performance, it should be kept in mind that Jack FM has failed to achieve, sustain ratings success of any significance where it counts. Recent meter numbers would have us believe the station's biggest win is outside of prime, 7p-12Mid. One has to at least consider the logic that Steve was released from breakfast duties as part of an effort to somehow "help" Jack FM. The single most credible, attractive attribute of any jockless station continues to be the low cost of operating which is not insignificant. Putting Dahl on Jack FM changed this jockless economic model.

My sense is the real failure here is one of leadership. No matter the numbers, sales should have found a way to generate revenues. It is hard to argue there exists a more sales friendly talent than Dahl.

Given the option of creating the next successful music intensive format or finding the next killer talent, one is best served by electing the former. The latter is a far more complex mission, one in which finding becomes the easiest part of things, however, the rewards of engaging killer talent are almost without equal. The play's the thing so said Shakespeare and in this case the play is a killer talent, Steve Dahl.

As a practical matter, CBS is making a wager. They are willing to bet Steve will gain employment elsewhere, ultimately releasing them from their financial obligation. They are suggesting it is the best decision for the company to continue paying Steve to not be on their air or to have him working across the street. The alternative which management should properly consider, it seems fair to offer, being to retain Steve Dahl, putting him to work in a productive and effective manner on one or more of their stations. This will require the hard work of thinking, of engaging the imagination and most of all, it will demand creative leadership.

Stay tuned.

Previously, on Steve Dahl and the diary versus the meter, here.

As always, your thoughts are welcome. Thank you for stopping by.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

"What the business thinks it produces is not of first importance. What the consumer thinks he is buying, what he considers 'value' is decisive." Peter Drucker

"Limiting one's pursuits to one lone avenue without benefit of change or diversion can result in a form of vapidity which sometimes deadens imagination." Edwin Uhl

"The virtue of imagination is its reaching, by intuition and intensity, a more essential truth than is seen at the surface of things." John Ruskin

Today's image: Ordinary magic by IrenaS. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Good reads: Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin [Amazon info]. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell [Amazon info]. Fiction, worth reading, again: The Road by Cormac McCarthy [Amazon info]

Live ammo: You have a talent working for you. A well known talent with a history of thirty years in the market. The talent has consistently delivered top ratings for decades under diary measurement. Since the introduction of PPM the talent has failed to show the same winning numbers. The most recent monthly numbers show the talent is ranked 20th in demo a year after being moved from afternoons on one station into a morning drive shift on another station. You have two and one-half years remaining on the talent's agreement, an obligation of approx three million dollars. You play or pay the talent? In the case of CBS they made the decision last week to pay the talent, Steve Dahl, rather than continue to play him. Your thoughts? Back to blog about this Monday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"The future ain't what it used to be." Yogi Berra

"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." Niccolo Machiavelli

"That which the fool does in the end the wise man does in the beginning." Richard Trench

Today's image: 0092 by emiliebjork. Great shooting. Thank you for sharing.

"How much potential out there
is being ignored?

How much raw talent remains uncultivated
and ultimately lost because we cling
to outmoded ideas of what success looks like
and what is required to achieve it?

The words are those of Dr. David A. Shaywitz taken from his review of Outliers, the new Malcolm Gladwell book. Read the good doctor's review, The Elements of Success, here via WSJ. [Amazon info] Highly recommended.

How much potential inside your organization is being ignored?

My sense is 2009 should be the year that you and your team commit, entrust, confide in a game-changing mission - one that is laser focused on bringing out the best in others.

Mission not initiative, since the latter is much too small a word to embrace this opportunity.

A mission to help, assist, encourage, abet, incite, spark and otherwise do everything within your power to enable people to make real, measurable progress in reaching their potential.

The secret to growing your business in 2009 is being obsessed now, daily going forward, with growing your people.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has got there first, and is waiting for it." Terry Pratchett

"I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained." Walt Disney

"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk." Doug Larson

Today's image: Looking Downtown by James Neeley. Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

As I was saying...

The press of daily affairs has been such that there has simply been no time for blogging.

Please accept my apologies and my sincere thanks. Your emails and other contact have been encouraging. The conjecture, priceless (e.g., Maybe he's dead?). In answer to many, let me say all here is exceptionally good, never better.

On with the show.

Stuff the cool kids are talking about: In the spirit of Madtown hero Dave Winer (we locals claim he is only taking a really long extended holiday in Berkeley) let me provide some jumps. To connect the dots here, it was Dave who famously said "People come back to places that send them away."

Flogos - Promotion and NTR magic.

Michael Rosenblum - You need to be reading this guy. He's only reinventing video. One of the last big things he invented was for Al Gore, Current. Michael is brilliant and playing at the top of his game. Check out the writing and videos on his blog. Repeat, daily.

Yahoo! Jerry Yang stepping down creates one of the biggest potential game-changing moments in the online world. The big two could become the big three in the USA. The early buzz and Vegas odds say News Corp prexy Peter Chernin would be the ideal successor. As ever, Kara Swisher has the story covered, including review of the suspects, via ATD here.

Moms v Motrin: Over the weekend we witnessed an interesting real-time experiment in social media. Moms took on Big Pharma using Twitter, YouTube, blogs, other SM tools. Motrin never had a chance, the moms won. It's an object lesson. Grammer Girl offers a good overview, What People Forget About Twitter here. How Twittering Critics Brought Down Motrin Mom Campaign by Michael Learmonth and Rupal Parekh via AdAge here. Related videos, check other blog posts via BuzzFeed. #motrinmoms tag on Twitter search here. Here's proof positive the Motrin meme has achieved escape velocity, the parody has begun. Check out this video mashup, Getting a boob job seems to be in fashion, via YouTube here. Finally, what's your Twitter strategy?

Philly fresh: Mel Taylor, who makes his living by helping media create local online revenues, checks in to advise the new site devoted to live music and local bands is alive in beta. Check it out here. Congrats and cheers to Mel and all involved. Are you reading Mel's blog? Jump on over here.

My bookmarks
- Not sure if you are aware but in the left column is my running collection of bookmarks (my del. icio. us). These are items I'm reading, sharing with clients and friends. Two stand outs this early morning: Steve Gillmor's timely piece on Microcasting merits your attention. Timesman David Carr knocks the cover clean off the ball with his writing on dead tree guys firing top talent. A very relevant and disturbing trend in media.

Back with more tomorrow. Thanks, appreciate you stopping by.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"It doesn't matter what people think about you or your company. What matters is how you make people feel about themselves and their decisions in your presence." Tom Asacker

"No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no past at my back." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant." Horace

Today's image: Francia - Holanda by arrozpide. Great shooting. Thanks for sharing.

Execution, not excuses
Third in a series

Thoughts on next steps for media CEOs. Ten things you must do now to prevail in 2009. Here now, the seventh of those ten. Previously: first in this series here, second in this series here.

7. The play's the thing, so said Shakespeare. It seems the majority agrees, content is king. The primary mission of every media company remains the same, find out what the market wants and then give it to them. What has changed is the accelerating shift in production and consumption patterns from a once purely producer-centric, linear world to a new consumer-centric, multidimensional mediascape. Cory Doctorow speaks to this shift when he says "Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about."

We are moving from a world of print, radio and TV to an environment of text, audio and video. The technologies of delivery are becoming increasingly transparent. Further, technology obviates place and time as we once knew it. We have indications that viewers demonstrate they care about the content without regard to the method of delivery. Product over provenance. The viewing of a recent SNL sketch starring Tina Fey as candidate Sarah Palin provides a practical illustration. A significantly larger number of viewers watched the sketch online (and continue to do so) than watched the actual NBC broadcast. Similarly, the overwhelming majority of folks who heard about or saw the Katie Couric interview with Palin did not first hear of it or see it at its real-time origin, on the CBS Evening News. These examples suggests content remains king. Content that was in demand was simply consumed in more than one place and at more than one time. The now well known comment by a college student is relevant here..."If the news is important, it will find me" (thanks to Timesman Brian Stelter). Let me suggest a paraphrase...If the content is good enough, it will find me.

Media firms must develop, produce, purchase or otherwise offer content that consistently creates demand sufficient to fuel a revenue engine that serves to produce a profit. Content must be made available as discoverable digital assets. CEOs need to shift strategic focus from import only with the addition of export. It's becoming less a game of either, or and more the new game of and. We agree with the wise counsel of Dave Winer - "People come back to places that send them away." [via] My sense is the most successful in the business of media will be those known to consistently provide proprietary intangibles which create sustained demand. This requires more than knowledge and trade craft, it demands the wellsprings of imagination and creativity. As George Gilder recently said "The real source of all growth is human ingenuity and entrepreneurship, which often thrive in the worst of times - and are always surprising...Knowledge is about the past; entrepreneurship is about the future."

All that's important is what comes out of the speakers
and what's on the screen(s).
Everything else is a footnote.

Web video phenom Gary Vaynerchuk often says "Content is king but marketing is queen, and the queen rules the household." Next, we'll consider marketing and what media CEOs must do to prevail in 2009.


Friday, October 24, 2008

"In art as in love, instinct is enough." Anatole France

"A really great talent finds its happiness in execution." Goethe

"The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice." R.D. Laing

Today's image: Positano - Country - Italy by RayDS. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Execution, not excuses
Second in a series

Thoughts on next steps for media CEOs. Ten things you must do now to prevail in 2009. Here are the second three of ten [first three here]

4. Reinvent sales. Stop waiting for business to come back. The revenue problem is not the problem, the response to the revenue problem is the problem. We don't need to simply reboot sales, we need a new OS. Stop wasting valuable resources trying to get better and start getting different. Embrace transparency and accountability. Adopt and enforce a zero tolerance for internecine silo warfare. Until broadcasters stop trying to kill the broadcasters across the street things will not get better for anyone except the buyers. Focus on your clients, not on your competition.

It is vital that all associates understand and agree, they are either in sales or sales support. A good read on what's happening in sales is What the Customer Wants You to Know by Ram Charan. [Amazon info]

What we are witness to today is nothing less than a sales crisis. It didn't happen overnight and has been years in the making. We've been writing about it here since 2004. It's easy to dismiss the problem, to ignore the fact that our sales departments have not changed very much in the last ten or, as some would argue, thirty years. Some wise guys will read this and say "Sure hope we have more than a week to get this baby checked off the list, reinventing sales might take two weeks." Clearly what we have here is a major challenge that requires our best thinking and best efforts. Reinventing sales will be an ongoing process not an event. It must be an urgent priority. We must get started.

Until and unless sales gets the attention it needs the entire company is at risk. The old saw seems apt, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten. Step one is stop blaming the market. It is we who have the perception problem, it is the delusion that we are doing something productive to fix the serious issues related to our dated revenue engine.

5. Get serious about R&D. Encourage, enable and protect innovation. Learn to win in the new ambiguous world of perpetual beta. Prize creative collaboration. Instill a bias for action understanding that to succeed sooner one must fail faster. Experiment. Forget about cap ex next year, put dollars into research and development. [Hint: If you missed the slide show in the first post of this series, here it is again - please watch here]

6. People first. As a practical matter, making HR important beyond compliance issues will be a new concept for many media firms. We have to start treating our employees like our best customers. Every person on the payroll is talent. Employees help the company achieve its goals by becoming the best at what they do. Leadership must create the context in which people can do their best work. An important part of the D in R&D is HR-D. The key to growing profits is growing people. Employees deserve and need an advocate, that's a critical mission for HR.

Diversity continues to be a challenge. As the joke goes our business is being killed by old white guys. Not enough women and minorities are being hired or promoted. Start with fixing outreach, it's broken.
On promotion, one example. Recently Clear Channel Radio announced the promotion or contract extension of senior programming staff, it should be noted that not one named was a woman or an African American.

Part three in this series may be found here.

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Romance is everything." Gertrude Stein

"The future is purchased by the present." Samuel Johnson

"Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative." H.G. Wells

Today's image: Bound to Ignite by Thomas Hawk. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Execution, not excuses
First in a series

Thoughts on next steps for media CEOs. Ten things you must do now to prevail in 2009. Here are the first three of ten.

1. Revisit your business model. Change the game. Do not tweak the numerator, change the denominator. Focus less on market share and become obsessed with market creation. Begin serious end days of revenue dependence on the import business and ramp up the business of export. [Hint: gather team to watch and discuss this slide show]

2. Embrace zero-based budgeting.
Employ brutal honesty. Cut all expenses that are not absolutely mission critical, no exceptions. Spend every dollar as if it were your last.

3. Labor, likely your single biggest investment, is the game changer. Thin the herd of the mediocre, release the sad dogs and 86 those retired on the job. Cut corp staff to lowest head count possible. Staff keepers should be assigned to line jobs as additional duty replacing marginal performers. Field the best possible team locking in your key players and stars, the ones that consistently make a difference. Identify and recruit more tie-breakers. Reassign associates as needed to ensure that everyone is working in an area that brings out their strengths and produces optimum results. Put an end to all "missionary work" (i.e., attempting to save people more than once, double secret probation, repeated altar calls, et al) [Hint: If they are not helping you they are hurting you. Cut the weakling performers. Clean house in one big bang]

Part two, second three of ten here.

The price of free speech. Say it ain't so dept:
Obama campaign charging media for prime election night coverage, from the campaign site...

The following coverage resource packages are available for purchase:

  • Main Riser Position - $935 (Includes 4 Main Riser Credentials, 5’x8’ Slot on Covered Main Riser and one 20 amp circuit)
  • Main Riser Position with Telecommunications - $1870 (Includes Main Riser Position services, PLUS two unlimited long distance/local phone lines and one wired high speed internet connection)
  • Cut Riser Position - $880 (Includes 4 Cut Riser Credentials, 5’x8’ Slot on Covered Cut Riser, one 20 amp circuit)
  • Cut Riser Position with Telecommunications - $1815 (Includes Cut Riser Position services, PLUS two unlimited long distance/local phone lines and one wired high speed internet connection)
  • Press File Seat - $935 (includes 1 Press File Credential, seat in heated Press File Tent, Power, Cable Television, High Speed Wired Internet Service, Catering)
  • Satellite Truck Position - $900 (includes 35’x20’ parking position and 100 amp electrical service)
  • Radio Position - $715 (includes table space and chair behind the riser, power and an ISDN BRI line for radio -- comes with two credentials)

Billing information must be submitted at as part of the request. Your credit card will not be charged until the campaign confirms your coverage resource package request. Coverage resource packages must be requested at:


Additional services may be purchased a la carte:

  • Unlimited Long Distance Phone Line - $300
  • High Speed Wired Internet - $275
  • One 20 amp circuit - $165
LATER: More coverage from Chicago Sun-Times here. My hope is this issue will be resolved favorably for the working press.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Life is a school of probability." Walter Bagehot

"Nothing succeeds like address." Fran Lebowitz

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." Maya Angelou

Today's image: As Autumn turns to Winter by Southernpixel. Great pic. Thanks for sharing.


Doris Kearns Goodwin talks about balance in life. She's a gifted storyteller and shares stories in today's video about leadership with lessons from presidents Lincoln and Johnson. Invest 18:48 of your day. Highly recommended. My thanks, as always, to TED for sharing.

Congrats & cheers: Rock programming ace Fred Jacobs joins the conversation on Twitter (hint: Fred come and join the big kids on FriendFeed). My beautiful, incredible wife on the celebration of the fourth anniversary of her exceptionally successful adventures in retail.

Next: My thoughts on what media CEOs must do now to prevail in 2009 and more on cognitive process as it relates to advertising.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind." F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech." Susan Sontag

"The ordinary man is involved in action, the hero acts. An immense difference." Henry Miller

Today's image: splash by nikond300. Very cool. Thank you for sharing.

Takes one to know one dept: Robert Feder calls radio legend Dick Biondi sui generis

Interesting conversations this week about the road ahead. Several client CEOs and COOs called to discuss revisiting their 2009 planning and budgets. Each year at this time we are involved in assisting clients with their planning. Concurrently we are deep into the process of developing our annual ad spend forecast. Because our firm also provides representation to talent we enjoy the advantages of a unique "both sides of the table" perspective.
Recent events in the financial markets have caused us to rethink even our most conservative assumptions.

This morning, thanks to Fred Wilson, we viewed a slide show created by the folks at Sequoia Capital. On balance, we agree with many of the points made in the presentation and have emailed the slide show to our clients along with our suggestions with regard to next steps. This morning I would like to share selected content from four of the slides in the Sequoia presentation.

Our Take

  • Manage what you can control. Spending. Growth assumptions. Earning assumptions.
  • Focus on quality
  • Lower risk
  • Reduce debt

New Realities
  1. Cuts are a must
  2. Need to become cash flow positive
Increased Challenges
  1. M&As will decrease
  2. Prices will decrease
  3. Acquiring entities will favor profitable companies
  4. IPOs will continue to decrease and will take longer
The Solution
  1. Perform situation analysis
  2. Adapt quickly
  3. Use a zero-based budgeting approach
  4. Make cuts
  5. Review salaries
  6. Employ a heavily commissioned sales structure
  7. Bolster balance sheets
  8. Become cash flow positive as soon as possible
  9. Spend every dollar as if it were your last
View the entire slide show via Fred Wilson's blog post here. My thanks to Fred and Sequoia for sharing.

Everything here is my personal pov and does not reflect the views nor the opinions of my employer. This has always been the case. Please use comments when you have a different opinion to share.

RIP: Financial engineering

The days of the financial engineer are, as a practical matter, over and that is a good thing. We are in this mess today no thanks to the leger de main practiced by too many self proclaimed financial engineers.

In my next post I'll share my thoughts on what must be done by media CEOs to prevail in 2009.

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

Thursday, October 09, 2008

"Children enjoy the present because they have neither a past nor a future." Jean de la Bruyere

"Humility is attentive patience." Simone Weil

"Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before." Joseph Campbell

Today's image: Pull me out from inside by mbrinamen. Great shot. Thank you for sharing.

The following video contains language that may not be appropriate in your workplace or around children. Fair warning.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." Albert Camus

"The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness." Michel de Montaigne

"The best work is not what is most difficult for you; it is what you do best." Jean-Paul Sartre

Today's image: Canopy of Color Revisited by Darren White Photography. Great shot. Thank you for sharing.

You remember last time, we were talking about that vogue advertising and marketing term of the moment - engagement. Today, we continue on that topic with some help from marketing maven Tom Asacker. In our last post we suggested the first goal of advertising was getting noticed. For the purposes of today's post we'll ask you to agree that getting noticed is an early stage or condition of awareness. How does awareness work? To get into the mind of the customer we turn to Tom's new book - A Little Less Conversation, Connecting with Customers in a Noisy World...

"It's all psychology and sociology. What I'm saying is that you'll improve your odds of connecting with your audience if you influence at both the subconscious and conscious levels. Again, think of awareness as a way to attract customers and deliver value, and delivering value as a means to creating belief. And belief - creating an expectation with customers - is key, since belief leads to experience and experience leads to adoption.

If customers believe you can help them achieve their goals, look good, improve their relationships, feel good about themselves, and so forth, they'll take your call, stop by your place of business, click on your link, join your organization, or grab your product off the shelf. If they don't, they won't....people are simply too busy today to act on faith and take chances.

But most organizations are so focused on spreading awareness - of their mere existence or of some kind of static 'information' - they've deluded themselves into believing that customers are easily manipulated, or that they follow some kind of linear, cognitive decision-making path. You know, awareness, information, desire and action.


Well, it really doesn't work that way...People rapidly screen stimuli and connect with what intrigues and appeals to them. Their attention may flitter from one shiny object to the next, but they'll only spend time investigating something if their guts, and especially their desire for value, have been aroused. Reverse the positions of the letters. It really works like this: Awareness, Desire, Information, Action.


That's what great marketers and salespeople do best. They make you aware of, and stimulate your desire for their offerings and subsequent information about those offerings...they immediately connect their offerings with your gut, with your emotions, desires, and beliefs. Now, most purchases of low-involvement products move from awareness to desire, then straight to action. Consumers never even pause to consider their decisions. Their subconscious desires are stimulated by a feeling of liking, probably created by some form of advertising.

Look, most people believe in A.I.D.A., because it feels right. We feel that it works like this: We sense something in the environment - be it some form of marketing communication, retail outlet, product, or salesperson - which then causes us to think about that something. Then, after thinking about it for a bit, we develop a feeling about it. And that subsequent feeling is what drives some type of action...That's how the brain works. You sense something and automatically have a feeling about it. Thus gut feeling is fast, effortless, and associative. It's also typically below your own level of conscious awareness. You then decide, based on said feeling and in many cases subconsciously, whether or not to invest more of your time in it and attention to it. Whether to raise it to a conscious, deductive reasoning process...Your customers and potential customers judge you based upon the very little bit of you that they perceive, whether it's the facts or not. So everything that they perceive matters - and I mean every little thing - because they speed read you (pattern recognition) and prejudge you with their resultant feelings (categorization)"

This excerpt [from Five: Different and Desirable] while certainly interesting is not the full text of Tom's well-reasoned thesis regarding A.I.D.A/A.D.I.A which must be read in its entirety to be appreciated. You'll benefit from reading Tom's book which I highly recommend. Get more information via Amazon here.

Ways to get the most out of Tom's book:

  1. General managers. Have each team leader (department manager) read the book. Meet once each week for a group discussion. Six chapters = six weeks of discussion.
  2. Sales managers. Have each seller read the book. During your weekly sales meeting set aside time for discussion. Six chapters = subject matter for six sales meetings.
  3. Customers & prospects. Once your sellers are conversant with the subject matter have them provide a copy to the customers they believe would most appreciate getting the book. My sense is Tom's book would also make a nice thank you or welcoming gift for a new customer. [Hint: use the book as a door opener for getting that first appointment with a high potential prospect]
Let me also encourage you to visit and start reading Tom's blog by clicking here. My thanks to Tom for allowing me to share some of his thinking with you.

Thanks for stopping by. Taking tomorrow off, back here on Friday with more on the cognitive process and advertising.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety." Isaac Asimov

"If you look deep enough you will see music; the heart of nature being everywhere music." Thomas Carlyle

"We only consult the ear because the heart is wanting." Blaise Pascal

Today's image: Mount Rainier by rasone. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

On the day job we sent this TED video to our media clients last month. Want a killer local promotion - an initiative where media can make a real difference where it counts, here it is. Also great enterprise story potential. What's being served in your local schools? Kudos to Ann Cooper. Love her passion. Reinventing the school lunch

Congrats & cheers: New media maven Tom Webster did a fine job moderating the Edison Media Research webcast Music Royalties and the Future of Online Webcasting. Kudos to Tom's panel Tim Westergren, Kurt Hanson, Alan Levy and David Oxenford. If you missed it yesterday, the archive is posted here. [Related: Used Twitter to do a real-time blogging of the webcast. The microblogging format seems perfect for such things.] Tina Brown bows The Daily Beast. Like the site, lovin her email alert The Morning Scoop.

Ran out of Tuesday. Back tomorrow with more on engagement, advertising and some insights on those issues taken from the new Tom Asacker book, A Little Less Conversation, Connecting with Customers in a Noisy World

Monday, October 06, 2008

"To let oneself be bound by a duty from the moment you see it approaching is part of the integrity that alone justifies responsibility." Dag Hammarskjold

"The test of extraordinary merit is to see those who envy it the most, yet obliged to praise it." Francois La Rochefoucauld

"A dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority; what it abominates most is the dissent of the majority." Eric Hoffer

Today's image: myself by Davaun. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

[Chart via RWW]

Lots of conversation recently about measuring media. The Madison Avenue preoccupation is with so-called engagement. We are still in the process of establishing exactly what engagement means and how to properly measure it. There may not be agreement on how we define it but, that pesky detail aside, engagement is becoming one of the terms of art used most by buyers and sellers.

My sense is we are heading in the direction of getting a better (or in the least more serious) understanding of cognitive process and advertising.

Radio measurement is moving from the literacy driven diary to the passive Portable People Meter. From respondent recall to device exposure. The interesting development here is we are moving from engaging the attention required to complete the diary to a less demanding and different engagement of the respondent. From writing down listening and mailing to caring for a device that needs to be carried on our person.

No matter the method of capture we use the data to buy and sell advertising, the data also has serious business implications from what we program to how we program. But what does the data tell us about engagement? My sense is we don't yet know. We remain in the early days of learning.

Let's take a moment and deal with the bigger issues at play, the matters of cognitive process.

Advertising is communication that seeks to influence our thinking and behavior. For advertising to be effective it must first be noticed, before doing anything else advertising needs to get our attention.

For decades we have measured this notice in the study of recall. Did they see or hear the ad?

Here's a practical example. What billboard or other outdoor advertising can you remember seeing in the last seven days?

Years ago I put this question to my colleagues during an all hands meeting. The interstate highway we all used getting to and from work was filled with outdoor advertising. The majority of staff immediately recalled the exact same billboard. White letters on a black background. Two words of copy. Jesus Saves.

What can be learned from this? Standing out is the first important step. It's getting noticed. The billboard certainly did stand out from all others but is standing out enough?

As the story goes, the great advertising genius David Ogilvy once said "When I want a high recall score, all I have to do is show a gorilla in a jock strap." Speaking of gorillas, I invite you to watch a TV commercial starring a gorilla. Not even kidding. Via YouTube here. What did the ad say to you? Here's another to check out. Again, via YouTube here. What did that ad say to you?

I applaud those involved in creating those two excellent ads. My thought is if they moved the needle for the clients they were successful. The ads were certainly entertaining but is being entertaining enough? How many times have you been a part of conversation about a really cool ad where recalling the client was a challenge?

Next time we'll be back to more matters of cognitive process. Here's something to think about until we meet again. We pay attention with our time but time alone does not pay attention.

Thank you very much: To the readers from Australia, the EU, the USA and from all over the world who have been kind enough to use the chat feature on this blog to get in touch. It's always great making contact with readers. You'll find chat on the upper left of this page. Should it indicate I'm available please do give it a go.

Have an amazing week. Make something happen.

Friday, October 03, 2008

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary." Cecil Beaton

"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens." Carl Jung

"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." Jonathan Swift

Today's image: White and Blue by Alex Verweij. Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

Take three minutes out of your day and click on this link. My thanks to Chris Anderson for the tip.

Bonus: Kevin Kelly Where ever attention flows, money will follow

Good reads: Top 5 Best marketing books of 2008 (in no particular order); each highly recommended. Li & Bernoff, Shiffman, Shirky, Walker and Asacker.

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

Thursday, October 02, 2008

"Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of." John Stuart Mill

"The greatest genius will never be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources. What is genius but the faculty of seizing and turning into account everything that strikes us?" Goethe

"All men's miseries come from their inability to sit quiet and alone." Blaise Pascal

Today's image: The Old Bog Road, Kilkenny Ireland by Edward Dullard. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Pig on the runway - pay radio update: Mel uses a Jedi mind trick when talking with an Ad Age writer. My guess is he probably said something like "These aren't the ratings you're looking for." Andrew Hampp writes "...the biggest hurdle between his company and advertisers is trying to agree on the measurement system that most accurately meets their needs." The dirty little secret here is the ratings for pay radio are already available and they don't look good. In his writing Andrew makes a couple of errors. First, he reports radio billing as "...$6 billion terrestrial radio collectively banks annually" when the actual number is $21+ billion [Source: RAB 2007]. Second, he falls into the trap of thinking subscribers are listeners "One thing Mr. Karmazin can offer advertisers these days is a bigger audience, having more than doubled Sirius' subscriber base to 19.5 million" While it is true that the audience now on sale is certainly bigger we still are not able to get a sense of scale here without the actual numbers.

Let me get back to the subscriber sleight of hand. Perhaps the best way to understand this is to use cable tv as an example. You probably have VH1 on your cable system channel lineup, this means - strictly speaking - you are a VH1 subscriber. You do not count as a member of the VH1 audience until you actually watch the channel. During my days as a cable MSO it was common for networks to pitch us using their hh numbers. Not hh ratings but subs. The truly sly approach was "homes passed" a totally meaningless number. For the purposes of discussing advertising subs don't mean diddly it's the audience that matters.

Mel does manage to again make good copy. He wants to be the Walmart of audio, "...the low-rate provider." He also goes on to say his "...direct response has been phenomenal." Adding that "...one of my goals has been to dramatically cut back on our direct response." I imagine Mel went shoe shopping after the interview with Andrew. He had to, the shoes worn during the interview surely must have caught fire. Please join me in my personal mission to get Mel on the next round of Dancing with the Stars. Read the entire article Karmazin: Damned if He Does -- and if He Doesn't, here. Closed circuit to Andrew: Next time you're writing an article on audio advertising you'll improve your writing by talking to more than just one exceptionally gifted salesperson.

Tom Webster, new media maven at Edison Media Research will moderate a discussion - Music Royalties and the Future of Webcasting. Monday, Oct 6, 12 noon, Eastern. Get more info here. Very cool, kudos, Tom.

Bonus: Live Web rock star Marc Canter shares his slides. How to build the Open Mesh, here. Very cool, thanks Marc!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

"Talent does you no good unless it's recognized by someone else." Robert Half

"A friend is a person before whom I may think aloud." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"A part of kindness consists of loving people more than they deserve." Joseph Joubert

Today's image: Dis, quand reviendras-tu? by bleuet Anne-Marie. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

F5: Bob Struble offers up a new post on HD Radio...

"I know there are no ratings and only hundreds of thousands of radios, but that was the case with the early days of FM too, and creative account reps sold that. Bundle with other digital or analog assets, lease spectrum, create sponsorships, ask us for ideas. Set a budget number for multicast sales. The industry needs the top line help, and here’s something new to sell.

As I have said, there is no one silver bullet that will pull the industry out of its doldrums, but multicasting is most definitely a piece of the solution, maybe a big one. The technology is out there. The first industry pioneers are showing the way on great programming, effective promotion and generating revenue."

Read Bob's entire post here. Bravos, Bob. Well said.

Found on the way to finding other things: Nick Carr "The browser may be the medium, but the applications are the message." Spot-on. [via] My thanks to Doc for an outstanding piece! boxee, the open, connected social media center for mac and linux [info]

Kudos: The new book by marketing maven Tom Asacker uses the narrative technique of conversation to proffer a fresh approach to running your business. This is a book you and your team should be reading. A Little Less Conversation, Connecting with Consumers in a Noisy World is a gem. [Amazon info]

Congrats & cheers: Should you like Twitter, you'll love FriendFeed. Happy birthday to those FriendFeed folks, you rock.

: Thanks to Jessica Hagy for sharing the following image - Think it through. [via]

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Poetry is the shortest way of saying something. It lets us express a dime's worth of ideas, or a quarter's worth of emotion, with a nickel's worth of words." John Grier

"Most clear writing is a sign that there is no exploration going on. Clear prose indicates the absence of thought." Marshall McLuhan

"The thorough man of business knows that only by years of patient, unremitting attention to affairs can he earn his reward, which is the result, not of chance, but of well-devised means for the attainment to ends." Andrew Carnegie

Today's image: Head Above Water by Philippe Sainte-Laudy. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Leadership: Robert X. Cringely offers us some wisdom, thanks to Janna Raye...

"Modern corporations suffer from systemic-level issues that emerge in top-down hierarchies. Managers are there to control staff and budgets, not to lead. Although you can make valiant and often successful attempts to control things and processes, you will never again be able to control people. We've evolved, basically, and the information age has had a lot to do with it. So we still "manage" companies the same way as when we actually operated assembly lines in America--the good old days! Now, people need leaders, not managers, and that's what a fractal organization enables.

"In fractal organizations, it's the staff deciding how to continuously improve processes in their functional areas for efficiency of time and resources. These organizations thrive with a new pay model also, based upon results or value of work delivered and not how much time it takes to do the task. Those who are really good will get to go home early! These are not the organizations that are shrinking. Like galaxies, they continue to expand, actually aided by a strong gravitational pull of the leaders at the center. Those who do it well create a compelling vision and keep it alive. They allocate resources to projects that align with the vision, and reward arm- and team-cluster leaders for the creative ideas their staff bring to the organization. It's a shared vision and collective goals that are missing from the vast majority of organizations, which is why failing projects continue to drain resources. Really caring about what you do and feeling proud to be a part of something special and wonderful is what every human desires, even if they say they don't."

Read Robert's entire post here. Bravos, Cringely, well done.

Thank you very much: Marketing maven Tom Asacker kind enough to send along his very cool new book, A Little Less Conversation, Connecting with Consumers in a Noisy World. [Amazon info]. More on Tom's writing after the reading.

Congrats & cheers: Radio programming ace Mark Pennington promoted to PD of legendary Detroit rocker WRIF. Well deserved. Thanks to Lee Arnold for the tip. Adult Alt bows on AccuRadio today. Kudos Tom Teuber, Kurt Hanson and all involved. NPR launches online community, smart. [Related: NPR]