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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

The Naked Truth

marilyn-monroe-1953The news is devastating to the 13-year old boy inside us all: Playboy magazine will no longer print nude pictures. The magazine that coined the word “centerfold,” will no longer have a use for the word it originated.

Playboy without nudes? That’s like getting money from a bank without having to talk to a teller, filling your own gas tank at the service station or listening to radio that isn’t being transmitted through a frequency to your bedside alarm clock.

It is progress, evolution, and necessary for survival.

I recently finished the audio book “Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal rose through the ranks of an Army most of us recognize: order, discipline, structure, pictures of pin-up girls, top-down commands, and a clearly defined org chart. This is the Army depicted in movies, which won wars, and saved thousands of lives. This is the Army where if a commanding officer orders you to “jump” you ask “how high?”

BN-IJ077_bkrvsc_JV_20150511155300As General of the Joint Special Operations Command in the mid-2000s, McChrystal quickly realized war was no longer like chess where one man was commanding all the troop movements of his enemy. Times had changed. Taliban and Isis were playing by different rules. The terrorists were recruited, trained, given the game plan and then empowered to make decisions in the moment. There was no way to keep up. As soon as JSOC thought they had a target in their sights, they had to wait to get the “go ahead” from McChrystal. Sometimes that meant waking him up and debriefing him, before he could make a decision. Each time, the targets vanished.

So they changed. McChrystal held a JSOC strategic meeting each day for everyone on the team. A video conference beamed to wherever his forces were stationed. Gone were the days where the General had a master plan and the forces were on a “need to know” basis. Now everyone knew everything. That created a shared consciousness. In addition, each unit was now empowered to execute in the moment based on collective intelligence, situational circumstances and timeliness. They became a team of teams.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAI_AAAAJDIyM2NiYTIwLTNjYTgtNGJkYy1iZTA2LTU5ODQ5M2E0ZWIxMAIt worked. The JSOC became more effective and agile. It morphed from a traditional org chart to an organizational web. McChrystal was hands off and eyes on. He was leading, not commanding. “Thank you” replaced the cold, directive language he was taught in the Army.

Thinking different.

Embracing change.

Adapting to technology.

Creating a collective intelligence and a shared consciousness.

Respecting and empowering your staff.

This isn’t Google or Apple or a quirky start-up in Silicon Valley, this is the Joint Special Operations Command.

And now it is apparently Playboy Magazine.

For radio it is time. Our enemy is no longer the station down the dial. It’s all around us and three steps ahead. We are battling for people’s time and attention on the device of their choosing, for on and off air talent, for digital solutions and distribution platforms, and for monetization. Frankly, a fifth front could be a public perception problem.

This is no longer a problem solved by a billboard campaign or a clever TV spot. To win we need to do what we do differently. “Team of Teams” may be a good place to start.

If Radio Was Like Blueberries…

PattsBlueberriesI spent a good half-hour talking to a blueberry farmer the other day. He was passionate, knowledgeable, and eager to discuss the business. He talk about how blueberries are becoming more popular internationally in China and some countries in Africa in addition to North & South America and Australia. He knew all about his competitors both regionally and internationally. He was gracious towards them. He saw them as a teammate in the global distribution, promotion and consumption of blueberries — instead of an evil enemy.

Ever notice we don’t seek out varietals of blueberries? We go to the store and buy blueberries. In fact, there are several dozen popular kinds of blueberries. (I dare you to name two.) But the blueberry industry, the farmers and marketers, focus on getting blueberries in shopping carts and mouths. They aren’t pushing you to eat Bluegold, Chandler, Elliott or Legacy blueberries. Just Blueberries.

What if radio did that?

What if everyone who grew and sold radio was passionate, knowledgeable, and eager to discuss the business?

What if we talked about the growing appetite of radio around the world and the role is plays in people’s lives?

What if we really were knowledgeable about our radio competition home and abroad? And didn’t talk bad about them?

What if we just all came together and encouraged everyone to listen to radio?

What if…?

Happy Birthday, Friend!?

Every year on 9/1 I get a few automated emails from companies I’ve done business with over the years. It’s jarring at first until I realize the date. You see my birthday is actually 1/9.

hb3

My next thought is how they must’ve tasked data entry with a part-timer, an intern or someone who was too busy to be careful. Shame. A small gesture to build a relationship with the customer has actually done quite the opposite. One slip-up of a 1 and a 9 is an eternal reminder that you’re just pretending to care about me, my birthday, our “relationship.” And each year as I shake my head a little stronger I am reminder how very fragile consumer or listener relations really are.

The lesson here is be mindful of your listener’s information. Treat it like diamonds. It is extremely valuable and you likely only get one shot to mine for it. And unlike real gems, if you’re not careful with this it can turn to coal in an instant.

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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When Copyrights Trump Commercial Creativity (Spoiler: Always)

copyrightI was listening to radio this morning and heard a spot for a local restaurant trying to be relatable by exemplifying how hard it is for working adults to find time to eat breakfast. They preached the importance of the first meal of the day. And wouldn’t you know it? They have a quick, easy, affordable breakfast sandwich you can pick-up on your way to the office to help solve your problem. Not a bad spot overall, but at one point the announcer says, “before you know it Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho it’s off to work you go!” and then fairly quietly layered underneath was the unmistakable original recording of the seven dwarfs singing the song.

That’s a problem.

  • It’s not an original work created by the advertiser.
  • It doesn’t qualify under “fair use” exceptions.
  • The song isn’t in public domain. The only songs that are public domain in the USA are songs and musical recordings published in 1922 or earlier. This song was released in 1937. (Check out the website here with examples of public domain works http://www.pdinfo.com/)

So, that means either Disney licensed copyright permissions to a local breakfast joint in central coast California or the restaurant and radio station stole it. It probably wasn’t intentionally and in fact, it was a solid creative choice, but the law doesn’t factor in intent, creativity or ignorance.

What should they have done? Here’s some advice from business law firm Brooks/Pierce:

“To secure a license for a musical work, you will need to contact the publisher directly. You can obtain publisher contact information using the repertory databases maintained by ASACP (www.ascap.com), BMI (www.bmi.com), SESAC (www.sesac.com), and/or the Music Publishers’ Association (www.mpa.org). If a sound recording license is also needed (e.g., for dubbing an original recording), you will also need to contact the record company directly. Record company contact information can sometimes be obtained by the music publisher and is often also available on the copy of the recording (e.g., the CD liner notes). Publisher and record company contact information may also be located on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website (www.copyright.gov).”

That’s a lot of time, work and likely money for a :07 sample of a song in a :30 radio ad that you’re charging 50-bucks a spin for on your radio station.

Here’s the kicker. Even if the radio station didn’t produce the spot they can be held liable for copyright infringement. (Production Directors and Traffic Directors listen up!) Penalties can range from $150,000 to $250,000 per infringement and up to 10 years in prison. And in this case, Disney doesn’t shy away from going after little guys, because once you knowingly allow one entity to infringe a precedent is set. Typically a cease & desist will be the first action taken, but I wouldn’t press your luck.

Be careful out there.

Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else

The other day my wife and I were talking about my new weekly email (see: email #1) and were throwing around possible enticements to get people to sign-up. I wasn’t sure I wanted to promise anything more than the weekly communication and blurted out, “I’m not sure I want to promise them 10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else to get them to sign up” It was a flippant, off-hand remark that got us laughing and then I thought, “hmm. It would be fun to write.” My wife cautioned that if I did it would need to be helpful too. (Always the voice of reason.)

THE PITCH

Sign up for the email if you like. It’ll be chock full of links to radio stories, audio and video, radio related pictures, plus my observations, discoveries, and insights. I promise I won’t give away your information. And it’s free. Let’s call it viral swag. Wait! Let’s not. That sounds like an STD. Let’s just say if you like radio stuff as much as I do, you may like this too. For easy sign up click here.

THE LIST: 10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else

game of life1. Stop keeping score. Ironic considering the list this item appears on. But seriously, this will free you from the chains of ego – at least in part. So much of what riles us up is constantly comparing ourselves to the people around us. We compare our talents, which can be motivating. But, we also take stock of who got which desk, who got a new computer, who went to lunch with the boss, who is in the PDs office and for how long, who gets more air time, which show gets more promotion on air, who is voicing more commercials, what show got bumper stickers or billboards, who is on stage at the station concert and which bands are they introducing and on and on and on. Stop it. You’re going to drive yourself insane. If you’re not being treated fairly, take your official compaint to human resources. But, by fairly I don’t mean equally. Not everyone gets a parking spot, a performance bonus, a cushy office, or even a free t-shirt. Be supportive of each other’s success and opportunities. Trust me, if you stop keeping score and start cheering each other on you’ll feel better about yourself and find your job more personally fulfilling, because of the impact your actions have on the success of your team.

asshole2. Don’t be an a – – hole. This might seem cheeky, but really there’s no need to terrorize your co-workers, bully subordinates, or stride through the building like you are above it all. We all deserve better. And more and more people I talk to are instituting a “No a – – hole hiring policy.” (Like this guy) So, finding and keeping your job is getting tougher and tougher if you insist on being a sphincter.

3. Be present. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (if you are inclined.) I know some will say this is mumbo-jumbo. Okay, move on. For the rest of you… being in the present moment will make you more engaged, more reliable, more likable, more productive, more balanced, more mindful and the list goes on. This means letting go of what happened last hour, yesterday or last week so you can focus on what’s happening right now. It also means to stop thinking about what’s next or getting emotionally engaged in events that haven’t happened, but might. Sometimes the easiest way for me to shed those nagging thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow is to make a list of what’s racing through my brain so I don’t forget it and I can address it at a later time in a more focused, productive way.

greatness4. Aspire for greatness. People like to be around positive people who believe dreams can come true. I actually had someone tell me after a coaching session they didn’t want any more feedback on improving their show, because, “it’s good enough” they just wanted me to grow their audience. What a buzz kill. When I took over as program director at ESPN in Los Angeles I was quoted in the trades predicting the station would be #1 in the market. Lots of people laughed. But at the end of the day do you want to work with people who believe greatness is possible or work with pessimists (they like to disguise themselves realists) who are satisfied with the status quo? Greatness please. I always want to work with those people who dream big and take action to achieve it.

5. Present solutions not problems. This is what I call “being an owner” or “see a problem, fix it.” Too often people carry their problems across the radio station being sure to let it spill a little on everyone’s desk before dumping the mess and all their attached emotions in the (insert manager position here)’s lap. This instantly relinquishes them of the responsibility of whatever is going on and leaves it up to management to solve. Or so they think. We are adults, right? Trust me, the results will be swifter and more satisfying if, before you march in and demand resolution, you consider what that might look like. I would even approach it as a pitch to solve a problem at the radio station that will; increase morale, save the company money, increase efficiency, etc. Management has enough problems to solve. If solutions are offered it’s easier to act on them in a timely manner. Vice-versa is true too. Management can’t tell employees to work smarter, collaborate or increase output without offering tools and solutions to do so.

listen6. Listen. This means actually hearing what people are saying. Studies have shown only 7% of communication is verbal, 93% is non-verbal (55% body language, 38% tone of voice.) So, put down your devices, move away from computer screens, and communicate with people face to face as often as you can. Focus on what they saying. Listen. Don’t just use the time they’re talking to figure what you’re going to say next. Communication only works when the message sent is the message received, otherwise it is miscommunication. This also applies to listening to the radio station you work at. Hear what is going over the air tell people specifically what you like.

7. Make “what,” “how” and “why” equal partners in making decisions. I’m a big proponent of strategic thinking. Knowing what you want to do, why you want to do and how it can be done seems logical enough, but in a radio station atmosphere I’ve witnessed more than my fair share of knee-jerk reaction decisions based on nothing but spite, fear, or an attempt to save face. Regardless if you’re a board operator or the chairman of the board, keeping this in mind while making decisions is key to garnering internal support for changes. It’s human nature to want to know WHY a decision is being made and if you are the decision maker you should have an answer other than, “Because.” This applies to all levels of employees.

Second-Chances8. Give people second chances. The old adage is you only have one shot to make a first impression. But, what if we just declared that old. Some people get nervous, have bad days, always make a horrible first impression or are simply miscast. I know I’m as guilty of anyone as painting someone with a broad brush on a first impression, putting them in a box, or diminishing their value to me based on a single interaction. That’s silly. Humans are fallible. Be human and realize you may be the one who made the mistake this time and give people a second chance before writing them off.

9. Be open to uncomfortable ideas. No need for any safe words here. Get your mind out of the Cosby gutter. This is about challenging conventional wisdom. This guy is doing it and I only wish he wasn’t so combative, angry and intent on hording his solutions until you hire him. But this can apply to changing where you sit in the studio, what color the walls are, experimenting with new bits or talent, or rebranding a heritage station to be more in touch with the way people consume radio today. Be the guy or gal who encourages evolution. The person who says, “Yes, and…” and add to the discussion instead of shutting it down with a, “no!” or even worse, “we’ve never done that here.”

10. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. We’re in this big crazy world together so why not pitch in to help make it a better place to be. You could volunteer at your favorite charity, share knowledge with people who could use it, raise funds, raise awareness, or help find solutions to community issues. It could be as simple be creating a personal mission in how you want your actions and activities to impact others. When you are selfless in your actions the energy you exert is minimal in the scope of life, but the impact can be life changing for you and others. It also gives you a broader perspective on how your actions make a difference. And I believe when we are conscious and purposeful with our actions the impact is greater and more positive than if we take action in a vacuum and let the chips fall where they may.

Purpose

And those are 10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else. Feel free to share additional items, feedback and stories below.

Radio Odds and Ends

I drove a total of about 10 hours yesterday to catch up with radio friends and listen to the radio. It also gives you time to think, come up with new ideas and dream a bit. I have a renewed focus and a more positive attitude starting my day today. Here are some things I heard, saw and thought that may be of interest to you.


OVERHEARD

I heard a bunch of a election coverage. There was no greater test for my brain than flipping between NPR and Fox News Radio coverage of the midterm elections; different tone, different language, different storylines. Both were biased. Both served their audiences. Neither was misleading.

Non-stop election coverage is rewarding for anchors and reporters, but hard work. I heard national anchors and local reporters all lose their thoughts, get choked up by dry mouth, and fumble through names and issues they weren’t prepped to discuss. You can’t over prepare for a night like this.

I didn’t hear anyone fumble and most of the coverage was informative and timely with the right level of excitement and urgency.


OVERSAW

I saw this on the 405-South heading out of Los Angeles. I had to turn around and drive by again to snap this photo going 60 miles an hour (not recommended).

KFI

TAKEAWAY: I think KFI is threatening me.

Two points here. It’s hard to be funny and I think they’re trying to be funny. Humor is tough and extremely subjective. Use it with caution. Secondly, how is “stay connected” any different of a benefit from most other radio stations? Keeping listeners connected (to news, community, music, etc.) is really the goal of most stations regardless of format. It doesn’t provide a differentiation point


WORDS OF WISDOM:

“Best advice (I’ve received) is to go through life with an “F— it!” attitude. Nothing is as bad as you think it is at the time. You can survive practically anything. And the best way get through things is to realize that it’s all going  to pass.”  – Perry Michael Simon, AllAccess.com, on the Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza.


FLASHBACK:

A note to the country morning show host who opens each break with the double time check (11 minutes after 7, 7-11 on your home for…) stop it. The 80’s called and it want’s the analog time check back please. Stick with the digital read out. It’s shorter, simpler, and easier to understand. Rule of thumb: never have listeners do math in their head when you’re just trying to tell them the time.


TEASE ME: 

“The Mayor joins us next to talk about the election” is a programming note not a tease. Find a way to make me want to listen. Instead of WHO you’re going to have on think of the WHY you WANT him on and WHAT he’s going to provide that’s worth sticking around for.


TRUTH TELLING

“There are some really good 40 second ads out there (in Los Angeles) that have been padded into a minute. If you could sell ads in multiples of :10 instead of :30s or :60s could the creative be rather better than it currently is? Because the creative of some of the ads I was hearing was not quite as high as I was hoping it would be.” – Radio Futurologist James Cridland on the shores of Laguna Beach


NETWORKING TIP

Bring a gift. I feel both special and inadequate meeting with James Cridland. He arrived with a thoughtful gift for me and all I brought was a camera so we could take our picture together. His was more useful to me than mine to him. 🙂

bookJames Cridland and Larry Gifford