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Missed Opportunities

In the past week I have offered part-time work to interns. They both declined the offer choosing instead to pursue opportunities that are more aligned with their career goals. I wondered aloud on twitter if this is the new reality for radio and it seemed to strike a nerve.

 

Some offered to take the jobs on their behalf including a couple peers from their school and one woman who has no broadcast training at all.

I am not pointing fingers at all millennials suggesting this is a generation of slackers. I know that’s not the case, because many of the millennials I’ve had the pleasure to work with are dogged, creative, hard-working and very talented. I am suggesting some inexperienced broadcasters are undervaluing actual experience. Perhaps it’s a false confidence created by the internet where anyone can become a broadcaster through their personal computer. Why work odd hours or off-air “button pushing” jobs to climb the ladder when I can create “radio” in my dorm room?

I am suggesting some broadcast students aren’t considering the power of relationships and networking. Every job I’ve been offered started with an introduction from a friend or colleague. I have never been hired by someone who I wasn’t within three degrees of separation. I have blanketed North American with resumes though my career and not one resume I sent to a total stranger lead to anything more than a “thank you for applying.”

New broadcasters may also be dismissing the value of gaining experience on a live broadcast where there are standards, expectations, and big dollars on the line. Talking into a microphone and recording a podcast is one thing, having the responsibility to deliver news or traffic information or be responsible for airing thousands of dollars’ worth of commercials is another.

I appreciate candor, bold decisions and determination. The interns that rejected my overture for part time work have that. I wish them well. I will only offer this. As a broadcast student I reluctantly interned in the news department of a radio station. I had no interest in news. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a host. But, I was good at news, discovered I loved it, and it lead to my first real radio job and a career I am proud of. You never know where opportunities, connections and experience will take you.

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2015

As a guy who has been blogging over the course of the last five years it is heartening to see stats rise from 1,500 views in 2010 to over 33,000 in 2015. But, and I presume my fellow bloggers will concur, the most popular blog posts arent neccessarily the ones the writer loves, adores or sweated over. So I give you my favorite posts of the year, even if they didn’t get the attention I wished they did.

snl40It’s Time For Your SNL Moment – Love it or hate it Saturday Night Live’s 40thanniversary show can serve as inspiration for your next radio event.

Curse of Subjective Adjectives – This is a phenomenal blog post; it’s fun, insightful, sensational, great, super, terrific, and awesome. Depending on who you are.

Paul KayeAirchecks. Dreaded Airchecks. – One of the issues that I hear from talent quite a bit is how airchecks suck. They dread them. Talent feel like they’ve been slimed by negativity afterwards when they just want some support, strategy and a plan to improve. They know what sucked. How do you fix it?

Secrets to Podcasting Success – In May 2014, Anna Sale launched the podcast “Death, Sex & Money” from the studios of WNYC. In the 10 months that has followed, Anna’s podcast has hit #1 on iTunes and she’s learned a ton about producing a successful podcast. Lucky for us she shared her revelations at Radiodays Europe and with the Radio Stuff Podcast.

What Do You Do With An Idea? – In recent weeks, clients have been sharing with me the anxieties associated with following their gut or executing on an idea.

RS 100 coverInside Radio Stuff #100 – How I landed the interview with Jonathon Brandmeier and how it all came together.

Broadcast Interview Scruples – The relationship between a broadcaster and an interview subject has triggered my curiosity. Let me tell you why.

Cirque du Radio – I was at the show Kooza last night and saw this awesome assembly of remarkable talent. It’s a really, really talented troupe. A couple things struck me as it relates to radio

Planning Ahead for the Sake of Spontaneity

If I were to tell you to drive from Seattle, Washington to Miami, Florida the first thing you’d probably do is tell me you’d rather fly. Fair enough. But, let’s pretend you’re driving.

What would you do? Make a list.

 

List

(Your list may not look like this, especially if you don’t enjoy beef jerky)

THE POINT?

The point is you don’t really just jump in a car and go. You plan for the things that are predictable.

Why do we do this?

Seattle to MiamiWe do this so when we’re driving along and we see a sign for “Biggest Ball of Twine” and want to stop, we can. But, when you’re done you need to know to get back on the highway instead of winding through back roads. That’s where planning comes into play. We also plan ahead in case we want to buy a cool souvenir. How do you know you can afford that stylish cowboy hat if you haven’t planned ahead?

Planning ahead allows for spontaneous moments on road trips… and radio shows.

USE THE FORCE (OR A CALENDAR)

Do not be the radio host who awakens on December 18th, realizes Star Wars is premiering, looks at his team and says, “What do you guys want to do with that today?”

That’s the attitude of someone who doesn’t respect his or her audience, but couches it in the spirit of spontaneity and authenticity.

Radio truth bomb: You can be spontaneous, authentic AND plan ahead.

HOW TO PLAN AHEAD

The key is to plan for moments and events you can, so you can focus your attention the day of your show on creatively tackling stories you couldn’t anticipate.

Here’s how:

Create a calendar and plot out holidays, big movie releases, local annual events, big sporting events, concerts, and anything else your audience is in to.

Brainstorm ideas with a group of folks a month or two ahead. This is everything from on-air bits, pieces of audio, liners, promos, parody songs, listener engagement to web content and social media plans.

Focus your list on the items you want to do.

Assign someone the task of doing each item.

Put deadlines on it.

Day of: roll it out.

This planning process gives you the freedom, time and opportunity to own it, edited it, be creative, and produce something great. Simultaneously, it gives you the confidence to be in the moment instead of thinking about what’s next and frees-up your creative brain to be spontaneous.

Forgotten Advice

Facebook has a new feature that it will tell you about “memories” you have on this very date dating back to when you joined. Through this fun time warp I discovered I wrote a blog before this one. I forgot that for two months in 2008 nearly every day I wrote a “note” on Facebook and called it my blog. I love reading them and thought I’d share a few. Strangely, the advice remains strong seven years later.

Under Promise, Over Deliver

This is one of the 100 or so great pieces of advice I have received during my career. It is simple advice, which works when adhered to. The Chinese restaurant down the street is great at this. I’ll call in an order and the woman will tell me it will take 45 minutes. 35 minutes later the delivery driver is at my door. I’m excited that my food is here early, I tip the driver more than usual, I enjoy eating the food and everyone is happy. If they would have guaranteed 30 minute delivery or less and it arrived 35 minutes later, I would have been upset, disappointed, maybe not have tipped the driver at all and probably would have been annoyed while eating my food. It’s the same food and the same quality of service, but a different promise resulting in completely different experiences by the consumer.

I Will Change Someone’s Life Today

Today, I have the dubious distinction of telling one of my employees that because of the great technological advances in our industry, we are replacing his position with a computer. Ouch. This employee isn’t my most valuable player, but he is hard worker and responds to coaching. And it is his life. He’s been here almost 7 years.

When did we as a society determine that things are “better” when a beating heart is no longer needed to make decisions that affect how our fans consume our product? Sure, it’s cheaper. And that is no small issue in these fiscally challenging times. However, it occurs to me as we take these giant steps into the automated future, we are taking huge leaps backwards in customer service.

When a computer is in control there is no one to answer the phone, there is no one to make a judgment call, there is no one around to do what’s best, there is no one to call for help, and there is no one putting their human energy into your business. The end result is perfection – cold, sterile, lifeless, perfection. How can we ask people to be passionate fans for our business, product, or service — if no passion goes into creating it?

I will change someone’s life today. If you are a fan of my product, it could be you.

Tuesday – I Have a Thought

Notice how often to you walk with your eyes firmly planted toward the floor or your feet. Today, lift your head, make eye contact, smile and say hello to people in the hall. Even if you don’t know the name of your coworker look them straight in the eyes, smile and say hello. Check that. Do this ESPECIALLY if you don’t know the name of your coworker. Watch what happens.

Coffee Confession

I have a confession. I have been cheating on my privately-owned coffee shop with Starbuck’s. I’m not proud. In fact, I’m embarrassed.

Here’s how it happened.

Right around the corner from my home is a small, privately owned coffee shop. They know me by name. They know what I drink. They will still serve me my coffee if I show up with no money. A couple months ago, I stopped going. Instead, I started making tea at home and taking it to work with me. I was trying to be healthy. I was trying to conserve money, resources, etc. Over time I missed my coffee, my morning chat and the daily routine.

However, instead of returning to “my” coffee shop, I would drive right by it and go to Starbuck’s. It’s not that I enjoy the taste of Starbuck’s coffee more than my coffee shop – I don’t.  I didn’t return to the private coffee shop, because they know me. I had pangs of guilt for leaving them. It had been a while since I had shown my face, there would surely be questions. So, instead I opted to go for the cold, sterile, factory of coffee where there would be no questions and no guilt. Except there was. Guilt that is. I felt guilty giving my money to the 800-pound Gorilla. I felt guilty based on the blog entry I wrote on August 18th “Starbucksfication.”  So this morning, after two months, I returned to my coffee shop. I pulled up to the speaker and heard, “Good Morning, we’ve got you started.” No questions. No guilt. Same service. I was treated as if I never left. I’ll return to tomorrow.

In order to take actions in life and business you need to actually take the action. We get caught up in the drama and our own fears of what MIGHT happen that we are left paralyzed. Today, go forth with gusto. Stop listening to the chatter in your head and start taking action.

One Thing Radio Has That Everybody Else Wants

liveEvery day radio DJs and talk hosts do something that strikes fear into others…

They crack a mic and talk to thousands of people at one time “live.”

That’s right, “live!” and without a net (other than a 7-second delay for dumping curse words.)

I can hear your sarcastic mumbling from here, “Woo hoo! Wowzers. Big deal, buddy. Why’s that something to write about?”

Well, it turns out people like “live” and radio has it in droves. However, for some reason we are taking this huge attribute and for the most part scuttling it.

Meantime, others are scrambling to capitlize on “live.”

knock-knock-liveRyan Seacrest is building an empire on “live.” He has “live” voting on American Idol and “live” performances, a “live” radio show (sometimes replayed and repackaged), a “live” countdown to New Year’s Eve and tonight he launches a new TV show called, “Knock! Knock! Live.” It’s billed by Fox TV as “the show where anything can and will happen.” They can say that because it is “live.”

“Live” is more thrilling. It makes it more dangerous, more daring, and more exciting. Though somehow radio doesn’t feel that way. We no longer view “live” as special, so our listeners don’t either and I believe that’s a mistake.

But even more than how it feels, “live” creates an instant community of people experiencing something at the same time. It makes it more special because we aren’t just watching or listening to something, we are bearing witness to it. There is something powerful to having a shared experience. Media companies of all shapes and sizes get that and are trying their best to capture it.

It is in fact one of the cornerstones of Apple Music’s Beats1 channel. It’s a shared, global, listening experience. It’s “live” from London, New York, and L.A. and you are listening “live” wherever you are anywhere and everywhere in the world.

After a successful and funny “live” show in the spring, NBC renewed the fairly average sit-com “Undateable” for 13 episodes this fall with the caveat that all the episodes are broadcast “live.” Let us not forget the enduring success of Saturday Night Live.

TV and radio networks also spend hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to “live” sporting events, because historically those are the most watched and listened to events – ever.

Tom Leykis has a bit called “Be Funny Live” on his New Normal Network internet radio show and it is so successful he created a sold-out event at a comedy club around the premise.

You can listen to your favorite band or artist on your device as often as you want, but seeing them “live” is light years better.

What’s the attraction to Periscope? It’s “live” video that you can interact with in real-time.

“Live” tweeting events and pre-recorded shows is almost more entertaining and enjoyable than the actual event or show.

I could go on…

At this very moment in time when “authenticity” is one of radio’s buzzy buzz words, the industry has a real opportunity to own the “where anything can happen” moniker. Unfortunately, we seem so restricted by our companies, brands, managers, and stock holders that rarely anything does. And the audience doesn’t anticipate that it will.

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10 Things To Do In A Radio Job Hunt

RS 109This week I’ve been talking to radio folks about searching for and applying for jobs. It coincidentally or not comes as CBS Radio layoffs several hundred employees. So I’ve assembled a list of 10 things to do while searching for your next radio gig.

1. Network. Most people end up getting jobs because of who they know. And you never know who is going to be the perfect “in” to get each job. So, connect with friends, colleagues, and old bosses on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Comb through your address book and reach out to folks from three markets ago. The key is don’t ask or beg for a job, don’t bemoan your situation, simply ask for advice. When you ask for knowledge people are more emotionally vested in your success. Take people to lunch or coffee and pick their brains and ask them if there is anyone they can think of that you should know and see if they’ll introduce you.

2. Apply for jobs. You are not above the hiring process. If you don’t apply managers assume you’re not interested. Don’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring. When you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind no matter how successful you were at one time. Find jobs that interest you and apply for them.

3. Update your resume. If it has been awhile since you’ve applied for a job make sure your resume reflects your most recent work experience. If you’re light on experience you might consider creating a functional resume over a chronological one. That allows you to focus on your skills and abilities and takes the focus on your tenure at each position. (Bonus Pro Tip: Spell check. Many hiring managers will eliminate candidates for spelling errors. The attention to detail you put into the materials you assemble to get a job is assumed to be as great or even superior to the attention to detail you’ll actually put into performing the job.)

4. Customize materials. Having one cover letter or introduction email, one resume and one demo for all positions is a sure fire way to get placed into the circular file (garbage bin.) Do some research and address your materials to the hiring manager. Avoid generic phrases like, “I’m seeking fulltime employment at a media company” and be specific about each job you’re applying for, “I want to be the night host on Crazy 96.6 WGIF.” Rearrange your resume so the experiences and skills that apply most to the position you are seeking are reflected towards the top.

5. Learn something new. Take this down time from employment as an opportunity to learn a new skill. Maybe you want to explore digital editing, know more about how PPM works or become an ace at snapchat or Pinterest. Expand your skillsets while you have the time to dedicate to it. It will also ultimately make you a more attractive candidate.

6. Don’t leave social media. One guy I recently spoke to told me he was waiting to see where he got hired to be active in social media again, because he knew he’d have to change his handle. It’s your personal brand and your responsibility to cultivate it. In this new world of media, it is important that you remain active and engage on social media regardless if you’re employed.  It helps you to remain relevant to fans and evolve your personal brand. It’s also a key factor in hiring. Hiring managers look at how many followers you have, how engaged you are with them, how often you post and what the content of your posts.

7. Vanity search. Do a google search of your name to see what comes up. You want to type in some keywords too. Try it a couple different ways “Larry Gifford,” “Larry Gifford, radio,” “Larry Gifford ESPN” and so forth. See what shows up and be prepared to address anything that does. This is one of the first thing hiring managers will do if your application peaks their interest.

8. Dress up. If you get an interview, dress up a notch or two from what you’d actually wear to the job. Trust me, how you present yourself matters. It just does.

9. Ask questions. Always be curious. At the end of a phone conversation or in-person interview when the person interviewing you asks, “Do you have any questions?” Be ready to ask some questions. Curiosity is one of the most important attributes of a talent. This is a test. Don’t fail it.

10. Sell yourself. This is not the time to be humble. The key is to leverage all the great attributes, skills and traits you bring to the table by positioning them to the hiring manager through the lens of “this is how the company benefits with me in this position.” It’s actually less about you and more about how you help the company achieve its goals.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, so if you have more tips and suggestions please feel free to share below. Good luck on your job hunt.

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Peering into Periscope

periscopePeriscope continues to gain traction as real-time video interaction with a round-the-world audience is too big of an opportunity/novelty/ego-boost to resist.

I’ve tested it out a couple of times, talked to folks using it and done some research. Here are some keys for radio folks looking to use Periscope.

BEFORE YOU GET STARTED

Power up. Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have a strong wi-fi or 4G connection.

Have a purpose. You will want to know WHY you are initiating a Periscope session. There are many ways you can use it. Here are some:

  1. Impromptu Q&A sessions. Great way for listeners to chat with hosts or debrief reporters of a big story.
  2. Live news coverage / press conference. Let the audience see what you see when news is breaking.
  3. Introduce new show features / characters / hosts to your fans.
  4. Make announcements about your station or show.
  5. Get feedback/information/ideas on show topics, events, contests, etc.
  6. Go behind the scenes of the radio station.
  7. A regular mini-show; “Today’s Big Idea” “The Bonehead of the Day” or “The Daily Session.”
  8. Tell stories to engage fans. Storytelling is as much of a key to a successful Periscope as it is your radio show.

Write a title that entices. This is your tease, but it should also give the audience a snapshot of the video session they’re joining. Many have luck asking a question so the audience engages from the get go.

Example. What is the worst part of Mondays? Who is your man-crush / woman-crush? How do you make a good cup of tea?

This keeps the session focused and people can immediately play along.

periscope-screenshotDURING YOUR SESSION

Steady the phone. There is not a stabilizer built into the Periscope app, so many of the video sessions I’ve joined are blurry, vomit-inducing messes. Either steady the phone by holding it with two hands or set it up against a computer screen, some books, or a put it on a tripod.

Keep the phone vertical. Unlike most apps and cameras on your phone, Periscope doesn’t work so well when you try to flip the phone in the landscape mode. It is seemingly incapable of readjusting once the session is started. Keep your phone straight up and down.

Frame your shot. Keep the focus of your video in the top 1/3 of the screen, because the lower 2/3rds is fill by comments and hearts. (Pro Tip: Hearts are like an infinite “like” button. Viewers can tap the screen as many times as they like and each time they tap a heart appears.)

The talking part. There is no need to begin talking at the beginning of your session, unless you enjoy light banter with yourself. Wait until people start arriving to your Periscope session before diving in. (Editors note: As pointed out by James Cridland there are those who will access your replay in the 24 hours that follow, but most consumers of your Periscope will be live. It depends on which audience you want to record the Periscope for I suppose.) And when they show up, talk to them. Answer their questions. Ask them questions.

Trolling. This is still the internet and your Periscope video is not contained to a small group of your best friends. All Periscope videos are available to anyone. If you attract a troll, just ignore them.

If you’re using Periscope for radio or radio-adjacent projects I’d like to hear about your experiences and would appreciate you passing along any tips in the comments below.

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