Sunday, July 06, 2014

"Applause is the only appreciated interruption." Arnold Glascow

"To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting." E.E. Cummings

"Fortune pays sometimes for the intensity of her favors by the shortness of their duration." Baltasar Gracian

Today's image: Morning light in the woods. By Fred Winston. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Disruptive strategy:
zag when others zig

The Great American Dream Machine was a weekly magazine show on public television (1971-72). A mix of short features, sketches and song, it was both satire and documentary. It's acknowledged as seminal work, a precursor to Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show.

The show runners planned to launch the show with rotating weekly hosts but the brilliant Sheila Nevins, at the time, a producer on the show, had a better, original idea. Go without a host, use images and animation as bridges to connect the segments. Nevins' unconventional, fresh concept proved to be a masterstroke.

Let's remember the wise counsel of Gordon McLendon - "The Old Scotsman" 

Carefully study what every station in the market
 is doing, then do the opposite.

What's important is creating perceptible contrast. Nothing subtle whatsoever. Strive to be obvious, palpable, visceral. The marketing genius Dale Pon called this approach "high definition communication" (way back in the early 1980s). 

Do your homework. Know that, in most situations, there is more than one right answer. Follow the lead of Nevins, McLendon and Pon. Have the courage to zag when others zig.

ICYMI: Good reads

What does the Facebook experiment teach us? By danah boyd, here

This American Gamble. Ira Glass's 'This American Life' Leaves PRI. By Cara Buckleyhere 

11 Top Quotes on Complexity Plus a Startup Twist. By Margaret Molloy, here

Sharing and celebrating your favorite authors. By Seth Godin, here

Recommended: Shakespeare's Montaigne. Greenblatt and Platt. Classic. NYRB detail, here

Have fun. Make something happen! 

Thanks for stopping by. See you on the Twitter. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Where observation is concerned, chance favors only the prepared mind." Louis Pasteur

"Genius is only a greater aptitude for patience." Comte de Buffon

"One morning one of us, having no black, used blue instead, and Impressionism was born." Pierre Auguste Renoir

Today's image: Late Night Travel By Thomas Hawk Beautiful shot. Thank you for sharing.

Markets are conversations

One key benefit of today's hyperconnectivity is the wealth of conversation. Not a day goes by without someone starting or adding to a discussion. On topics related to media there's a robust diversity of ongoing discussion. Those working in media will gain valuable insight and advantage by devoting attention to a couple of particular discussions.

First, serious inside broadcasting baseball conversations and, second, the abundance of comments on broadcast media emanating from what Jay Rosen has called "the people formerly known as the audience."

Many of us arrived here from a different world. Access or exposure to some kind of thought leadership or best practice wisdom and any continuing professional education whatsoever were limited; trade pubs were delivered weekly, popular industry conventions staged annually. The important exercise of "holding a mirror up to the audience" was typically a once a year ritual - the perceptual research study - more event than process.

This should not be understood as a suggestion we should discount the potential value of publications, conferences or survey research. Au contraire, my thought is each would be enriched, complimented, not replaced, by careful study of available conversations. What has forever changed is context. The conversations are already in progress. Get engaged and involved.

To review the (now) obvious fundamentals as stated in The Cluetrain: "The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media." and "We have real power and we know it. If you don't quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that's more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with."

Localized radar: To get a quick read on your market create a local Twitter list. Populate with all the usual suspects. For best results make it an ongoing curation. Invite listeners/viewers/followers to suggest additions. Here's an example created for Madison, WI. Such lists can well serve your market "listening" strategy. FYI - some clients have created a second list using a Twitter account not associated with the company so they can also track tweets of all media in their market.

The Broadcast Ecosystem

My sense is broadcasters would benefit from some discussion about ecosystems. Let's frame it this way: Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are each building and fine-tuning (iterating) an ecosystem. A bespoke community set designed to create and sustain competitive advantage. What is the state of your company's ecosystem? Seems a fair, timely and important question.

You can Google "Amazon ecosystem" (or any, all of the big four above) and get an idea of the concept, including graphic representations. In my experience, a candid and valuable discussion about any ecosystem should begin with mapping. Have your associates independently create maps which reveal what they believe is your present ecosystem. Gather your team to share and discuss their maps. Create a map of your ecosystem. Iterate. How can your ecosystem be improved?

One example: broadcaster ecosystem maps include Audience & Advertiser clusters. Within the Audience cluster are lifestyle groups and their purchase needs/behaviors. These relate to buyer, potential buyer groups within the Advertiser cluster.

An area often overlooked in this mapping is your local developer community. The upside potential of establishing a formalized approach, a respectful place within your ecosystem, to effectively involve talented hometown geeks is not at all insignificant. Thank me later.

Good reads

The Future of UI: Contextual Intelligence. By Bob O'Donnell, here

EXCELLENCE. NO EXCUSES. By Tom Peters. This 737-page download is a gem, here

The Power of One. By Fred Jacobs. Fred offers up a solid post about the Nielsen LA Radio ratings scandal which turns into an interesting discussion via comments on how ratings are used, here

Witty Worried and Wolf. Nancy Wolf, the smart and celebrated communications lawyer, is not retiring, she's restarting. Enjoy her new blog here

SCOTUS: The Aereo decision, here

In closing let me share a wonderful image. This week Professor Gary Hamel delivered another of his thought-provoking talks. A keynote at the London Business School's Global Leadership Summit, his talk was about hacking management. The following image was taken from his deck. My thanks to Dr Hamel for allowing it to be shared here. Dare to distribute, discuss and post in your workspace.

Monday, June 02, 2014

"I always say there are a hundred U.S. senators and eight people with their own show." Lorne Michaels

"The other set of effects, which is more narrowly targeted at the media industries, is that typically the new companies don’t take the profits of the old companies; they make the profits of the old companies go away. You end up having to shift from operating in a position of scarce resources and abundant profits to a world of abundant resources and scarce profits. And the design of businesses and organizations in that second world is very different from that first world."  Clay Shirky

"Smartphones have gotten us used to things that are mostly software and, consequently, get better over time. Every other manufacturer of durable goods will have to follow suit. Their overall success will likely be a product of how well they adapt to this new fact of life."  Phil Windley

Today's image: Lightning Strike Over the Pacific. By Craig HudsonReg Saddler. Thanks for sharing.

Your station sucks

Working in the so-called legacy or old media world ain't what it used to be. Preserving share has never been more difficult, the hard work of growing share never more formidable.

These challenges are made increasingly complex by media's nature, it's one of what Paul Valery called the "delirious professions...all those trades whose main tool is one's opinion of one's self, and whose raw material is the opinion others have of you." In other words, the high-wire acts - those careers where everyone is entitled to an opinion about one's work. Examples: politicians, artists, writers, actors, athletes, singers, musicians, dancers, journalists, comedians and broadcasters.

Accordingly, there's no shortage of opinion about media's present condition, no lack of crystal gazing and wishing out loud. About those employed as "creative people," the legendary critic John Leonard wrote "Each is asked every minute of the day to be original: unique."

Buzz Bennett, a celebrated radio programming ace, nailed it; told the station's receptionist didn't like his new format he said "Everyone has the right to program."

Media folk do their jobs in public, they work in a virtual fishbowl. Moreover, the advent of social networks has endowed public expression with a practically frictionless ease and the velocity of light. The opinions have always been there, the sea change is our new hyperconnectivity.

There are a lot of conversations going on inside the broadcasting trade about the present and future challenges of Broadcasting. For the purposes of this post, allow me to reduce one of those conversations to fifteen words: how do we effectively prepare for the future while remaining competitive and successful this quarter?

Reid Hoffman says "Starting a company is like throwing yourself off the cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down." The challenge for broadcasters is doing what Reid suggests while also working full-time on another demanding job.

In the argot of popular business writings, broadcasters find themselves up against Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma and a need to develop a time-sensitive solution set to affect the potential crossing of a Moore's Chasm. How can Broadcasters optimize present performance and be better prepared for the road ahead? Let me suggest a first step. 

The metrics, stupid

Broadcasters have need for a more comprehensive set of audience and revenue metrics especially at the local and regional levels. This is a critical matter as data could provide the inherent advantages of situational awareness. Where are we? How are we doing compared with all available options? 

The old saw applies here - what we measure gets attention.

We have some grasp of the national and global numbers. For example, one IAB/PwC measure of US time spent with media vs ad spend in 2013 puts TV's share of time spent at 38% with 45% of ad spend, Radio getting 12% of time spent with 10% of the ad spend.

We know from another IAB/PwC measure, Internet ad spend in the US was #1 last year eclipsing Broadcast TV revenues for the first time. We know that Broadcast Radio ranked fifth in revenue behind Internet, Broadcast TV, Cable TV and Newspaper. What we need is a richer perspective of the whole mediascape, a fresh sense of marketplace consumption and revenues. 

Kevin B. Sweeney, one of the great advertising sales and marketing mavens of the 20th century, was known for his list of "Ten Questions" every Broadcast Radio manager needed to be able to answer. One of the ten, list your local newspaper's top 100 advertisers, was intended to shift focus, improve productivity. 

To move forward effectively, Broadcasters need better treasure maps and scorecards.

Broadcast has done a good job of developing vertical competitive tracking systems. To date these have been focused on more and more granular, real-time data about the Broadcast silo. Competitive defined by direct competitors - the Broadcast guys across the street. This well-intended effort has advanced an acute myopia. The reality is, the majority of ad and marketing spend in every market is captured by non-broadcast properties while Broadcasters continue to be almost exclusively preoccupied with broadcast spend.

Again, what's needed is insight which captures the bigger picture. How did Broadcast do last month compared not just with other Broadcast competitors but with all available options - a more complete understanding of consumption and ad spending in our market. Fundamentally, this represents embracing a new and more realistic definition of what's happening in the marketplace.

We are living on the edge of a brave new world. One which is less about Radio and TV and more about audio and video. Less about Newspaper, Print and more about text. 

For the record, my take is Nielsen will step up and do an outstanding job of providing some of the new audio and video data needed by Broadcasters.

To be continued: Next, creating a local media ecosystem.

Good reads: Fred Jacobs has a great post on the state of commercial Radio. Read "The Flat Radio Society" here. Tom Asacker suggests we "Create some drama," his latest writing is worth the jump here.

ICYMI: Recommended reading: Fiction: Two great reads from 2013. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt [AMZN] and Lexicon by Max Barry [AMZN] Non-Fiction: The book we all need to read and keep reading is How to Write Short - Word Craft for Fast Times by Roy Peter Clark [AMZN]

Thanks for stopping by.