Smash The Wall

It finally happened. My trusty Mac finally died yesterday. It was the equilevant of a massive heart attack.

So here I sit in the middle of the night, attempting to hack out a legible post on my iPhone. This massive computer failure could not have happened at a more inconvient time, as I’m flying to Austin in 5 hours for the music side of SXSW. It’s a big deal for my new company; sort of our coming out party. We’re already starting to generate a small amount of buzz and press (scored a blurb in the Wired Magazine blog today!). Anyway, please bear with me this week as I attempt to blog from my phone and various hijacked computers. I do not plan on abandoning this little online crusade of mine because of a little technical difficulty.

Which brings me to my point: when someone throws up a wall in front of you, smash it. Smash it good. If you’re in local radio you’ve never seen more walls than right now. They come in many forms, from limited staffing, to out-of-touch owners and industry leaders (they’re not all bad, but many are).

If you remember from the video I posted here on Sunday, Edison failed with the light bulb 10,000 times before he got it to work. It took time, but he eventually got around the wall. If he had quit after 9,999 times the world would be a very dark place.

Another analogy: Professor Randy Pausch always believed that the “locked door” wasn’t there to keep him out, but rather to keep out the “other” guy who wasn’t daring enough to smash it down.

Identify what’s holding you or your station back, then eliminate it. This may sound overly-simple, but it’s surprising how many organizations can actually do it. Why? Because you have to cut the crap and be honest with yourself about what you have been doing all along. It’s always funny how often a problem can be solved with a little drive and a lot of honesty…

Smash the wall.

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Need Sales? Solve A Problem

About nine years ago, I was fortunate enough to have worked along side a brilliant young sales guy at Learfield Communications (and for the life of me I can’t remember his name, Chuck something?). He was constantly looking for companies in his territory that he could truly help with the power of his network. That seemed to be his primary focus and he was wildly successful. I stalked him quite a bit, and learned a lot from him along the way.

Here’s one example of his strategy in action…

I was in his office and he was trolling the Iowa news wires. He was reading a story about a local power company that was dealing with wide-spread outages after a massive storm and the community was getting pissed. A light bulb went off in his head: “You know what, Ben? I’ll bet this power company is going to have some serious image problems after this is all said and done. I think I can help their PR campaign.” He immediately got on the the phone with their PR gal and offered a solution to her problem. I listened to his conversation intently. The words “sales” or “money” never even left his mouth. He focused on engaging the potential client and offering her a solution to a specific problem. Brilliant. He got the account on the spot. The cool thing about this guy? He was very genuine. Not a sleazy sales bone in his body.

I’ll bet that if your local sales staff shifted their underlying focus from “selling” to “problem solving” you would start to see some serious gains. At the end of the day, that’s what your potential clients are all looking for, right?

[Update: I was chatting the other day with respected radio consultant Ed Shane about this upcoming blog post. While he agrees with the concept, he brings up a solid point: local sales folks –in today’s current economic climate– just don’t have the time to develop the kind of solid relationship they once had with individual clients. It’s all about what you sold today. Is there something we can do about this? Thanks for making that point Ed.]

The Creative Environment

Ever since the first transmitter was fired up, radio has profited from creativity

  • The creativity of musical artists.
  • The creativity of talk show hosts.
  • The creativity of production.
  • The creativity of promotions.

If this is the case, then why is it that today’s local radio stations are –for the most part– horrible environments for creative people to actually work in? Why do the inner offices look more like banks than the sofa-and-video-game quarters of say, Pixar? Where’s the ping-pong table in the break room? The fish tank in the studio? Remember how crazy station’s were back in the 80s? Have we officially killed any remaining creative spirit in local radio? That’s not a rhetorical question, please leave a comment below and let me know.

If you are wondering where all of the truly creative radio folks have gone, then just take a look at the work environment your station has created (environment is key, because they started leaving long before consolidation). The really creative folks that I know wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of khakis and a polo shirt. If this is part of your company’s dress code, then you are limiting yourself.

Don’t just talk about creativity in a conference room. Open your office up to the weirdos. Make them feel welcome. They are almost always the ones who come up with “The Next Big Idea.” And that’s just what you need right now. A gool ol’ shot of weird

Is Local Radio Still Daring Enough To Fail?

This video is over eight minutes long, and that’s why I posted it on a Sunday. Every local radio station Owner/GM/PD should watch this immediately and take it to heart. Watch it to the very end. Yes, it started as marketing propaganda for Honda, but the concept applies to local radio now more than ever.

I say screw the tested, try the new. Evolve or die.

Be Different

Every remaining radio station Owner/GM/PD is desperately looking for a way to stand out online. They want their brand to not only extend to their listener’s over the air, but on The Internets as well. Be different. Do something crazy. Don’t be a follower.

At the risk of looking like a major dick, I’ve posted screen-shots of eight different radio station web banners from eight different markets that are all calling themselves “KAT Country.” And they’re all apparently “Today’s Best.” I’m assuming they all have the same web designer.

If your station’s banner has ended up on this wall of shame, I truly apologize. Sometimes we all have to go under the bus to prove a point: the “artist montage” web banner is a horrible cliché…

Connect Everything: Part 7 “Pay Day”

It’s Friday the 13th and this blog series is coming to a close. No better day for this to happen than “Pay Day,” right? After today you can take your middle-of-the-month check and go celebrate your online accomplishments by buying a new video camera…

Anyway, the pieces are in place and your online pyramid scheme is almost complete. Now all you have to do is “Connect Everything.” Here’s the basic run-down of how this is works. You’ll need to do a bit of tweaking to get it function seamlessly. Again, just shoot me an email if you have any specific questions. I’m more than willing to help you out, for free. I just want these ideas to spread.

1. Find your blog’s RSS feed and start a Twitterfeed. Now, every time you update your blog with a new post it automatically feeds a “Tiny URL” to Twitter.

2. Log into facebook and connect your “Status Updates” to Twitter. Now every time you send out a new Tweet, it will automatically update your Facebook status with the same info.

3. Connect your blog’s RSS feed to your Facebook “fan page.” Now, all of your blog posts automatically appear there too.

4. Head over to Widget Box and create a widget for your flicker photostream. Slap it onto one of your blog’s columns. Now, when you add a new pic to Flickr it will automatically update the photostream on your blog.

5. Do the same for YouTube.

6. Add a FeedBlitz “subscribe” widget on one of the columns of your blog’s front page.

Done.

Confusing? Yes. Difficult? Most likely. Can anybody do this if they just spend a bit of time in front of their computer with a cold one? Absolutely…

To recap, here’s roughly how your content is connecting to multiple online sources. I wrote this in the most confusing way possibly…

  • Your blog’s RSS feed feeds to Twitter, Facebook, and Feedblitz.
  • Twitter feeds to Facebook.
  • Flickr and YouTube feed to your blog.
  • Feedblitz feeds your posts (with embedded video and pics) to everyone who chooses to receive them in email form.

When this is running seamlessly, it’s actually kind of cool to sit back and watch it all work. It’s not important that you are deeply familiar with the subtle nuances of how this is all working. If you’ve taken the time to properly set up each element, it should simply work. It definitely takes a bit of time, patience, and homework, but it’s pretty easy to do.

Now here’s the big reveal: The internet is a principle based on fast-moving, free information that you can choose to view at your leisure. You have just given your fans seven new ways to do that. And you’ve done it with class while following the spirit of things.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve left out a ton of important details. I’m also sure that someone else could do a much better job of explaining this more clearly. The reason I put this together is because I tried to find the same info about three months ago and couldn’t. Please, someone take this idea and do a better job with it. Until then, this is all there is for radio folks.

At the end of the day, this concept has worked wonders for the Music Fog blog. Our fans don’t just enjoy choice…they demand it. Why shouldn’t they? I do.

Class dismissed.

See me after school if you have any questions

Connect Everything: Part 6 “FeedBlitz”

If for some reason you’ve actually been following this blog all week and are up to speed, then today should be easy for you.

This is the second-to-last of my suggestions on how to connect your fans to every scrap of content that you want to distribute. Head on over to FeedBlitz and set up an account. FeedBlitz allows your fans to subscribe to an email newsletter. This is automatically generated by connecting your blog’s RSS feed to them. It’s easy to set up, and is free for the first month or so. Then it’s maybe 5 bucks a month depending on how many subscribers you gather. Check their incrimental pricing list before you commit to this. It’s pretty painless.

At the end of the day, here’s what will happen. You post something new to your blog. An RSS signal is sent to FeedBlitz and they email that post out to people who have subscribed. It’s just that simple.

FeedBlitz is used by power-bloggers around the country, and they have a pretty good reputation for customer service. Be assured that they won’t try to screw you over somehow by selling your sub’s email addresses.

That’s it! You now have an email newsletter.

Tomorrow is the moment of truth. Tomorrow, we learn how to “Connect Everything.”

Stand by…