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Archive for the category “rants”

Traditional Media’s Free Lunch

So, everyone is upsetfree-lunch-is-only-found-in-mousetraps (1) that Facebook has changed their policy and is suppressing media and business posts in favor of friend updates.  Keep in mind that for many people their Facebook feed is where they get ALL their news.  Crazy right?  Well, the media let it happen.   

Let’s go back about 10 years.  Before the great 2008 recession. Back when a hash tag was just a pound sign.  Let your mind drift back and imagine everything you seen and heard on mass media.   I’ll help you out a bit.  Most (at one point almost all) advertising had one central message…..”Like us on Facebook”.   DJ’s had contests to get the most fans and likes. The Facebook logo graced the end of every local newscast. Every major brand had one mission—Build their fans & likes.

It was as if overnight everyone forgot there is no such thing as a free lunch.  “A way to connect with our customers for free”  Wow!…Yea  wow.  The media spent ten years turning all the power over to Facebook and now are upset that their relevance has declined…..A lot.

Radio, television &  print all thought that Facebook put them closer to their audience, and traditional media would always be the first choice.  Instead of building databases, investing in new social media platforms and better websites, traditional media took  the easy way out…Connect for free on Facebook.

And Facebook, much like a drug dealer handing out free samples, kept giving and giving….Until they didn’t.

The easy path is rarely the best path.  So congratulations Facebook.  You got the entire world to help build a database over a billion strong…For free.  So maybe there really is a free lunch?






You Are Supposed To Move On Moving Walkways!

 Sometimes I think technological advances designed to bring people closer together, and make life easier, actually have the opposite effect.  Have you ever been in an airport and watched people just stand on the moving walkways?  They were designed to make everyone move more quickly through the airport, and make the overall flow more efficient.  That is what they were designed to do, but what really happens?  People just stand on them and actually go slower than if they just walked.   I usually just walk along side at a faster pace because I lose patience with the idleness of my fellow travelers.

Same with texting and social media.  The very term “Social” media is actually an oxymoron.  You sit at home “liking” your friend’s status and you feel like you made a connection with them….  But did you? A deeper, richer relationship requires eyeball to eyeball conversation.  So now you don’t have your weekly coffee with your friend because you’re all up to date with each other through social media.  So, in fact, you have become less social with your friends. You used to pick up the phone and talk to someone…Now a text will suffice. 

I’m not saying technology is bad.  I embrace it wholeheartedly.  I just think occasionally we should stop and think if the convenience we experience is actually taking us further from the original goal. I’m sure someone else had the same arguments when the calculator was invented–“Kids won’t know how to add”, was probably uttered by countless people over fifty.

I just think everyone should know the basics…How to write a real letter and mail it…How to have an intelligent conversation with someone without the use of text…How to walk up the stairs without the use of an escalator.  Maybe someday we will all just be giant heads floating around… But until that time,  for all that is holy, when you are using the moving walkways at the airport bend your knees a little!  Or get out of my way–I have a plane to catch!

Everyone loves Polar Bears….Right?

Thanksgiving 2011.  My Mother asks  if we have any Coke.  I can’t do justice to just the way she phrased it, but  to paraphrase, it went something like….”And not any of that diet crap”…  So, my wife proudly retrieves a brand new can of Coca-Cola in the special can that helps the Polar Bears.  Everyone loves polar bears–White, furry, look great in a Santa hat.  The problem is, the special polar bear Coke can looks just like, you guess it, a Diet Coke.  Granted, one is white and one is silver, but at a glance, they look identical.   No one at Coke thought this could be an issue?  Where is my Jolly 1930’s Santa Claus can?  Global warming has really become inconvenient when they take away my red holiday cans!

As everyone discussed (argued) about the validity of the white can, I cleared my throat and gave my famous speech on why this would fail.  Consequently,  it’s the same speech I gave my sales team when Netflix went temporarily insane and tried to rebrand  to the name “Quickster”.  The take away from my loud proclamations was that Coke would drop this new can by Christmas.

So as I awoke this morning my Yahoo news hit me with the big news—

America is confused by the white Coke can–It looks too much like a Diet Coke–It will be pulled from the shelves ahead of the time.  Some folks even said it tastes different! (Bread does taste better to me when it is cut diagonal!)

Now, some conspiracy theorists may say this was done to just drum up publicity—That I’m talking about Coke way more because of this stunt…Just like “New” Coke.  Maybe, but maybe not.  Coca-Cola is one of the biggest brands in the world–They have  the resources to market test better than any other company–So what went wrong?  My nine year old daughter thought the can looked like a Diet Coke, but Coca-Cola didn’t anticipate this?  Something’s  fishy.  (Don’t polar bear love fish?..hmmm)

So you decide–Are we talking about Polar Bears  and Coke more because of the campaign?  Will more money find its way to Atlanta and Antarctica because of the controversy?   Some of the best advertising campaigns don’t seem like advertising at all–The point is to make people talk, although it didn’t work for Netflix–That was just a major miscalculation–But then again, Netflix is no Coke.

Either way,  Al Gore has now switched from Pepsi to Coke–All is right with the world.

Radio: There’s No Esteem Like Low Esteem

Radio has a perception problem, but it’s not with our customers (listeners), it’s with ourselves—Check out this latest data from Arbitron about listenership using metered markets.  Radio Delivers

 Radio listenership has actually grown over the last 20 years.  Radio is still the way most new music gets to the masses.  Radio is still a major part of people’s lives, and as a business a successful station still commands 30 to 50 percent margins.  Unheard of in any other industry.  Radio has an issue with self-esteem

The problem lies with us.  When new facts and figures come out about the power of live, local radio, we don’t believe the data.  It’s like we beg the popular girl in high school to go out this us, and when she agrees, we find ways to talk her out of it!

If I pull rating information from 15 years ago our FM had an overall weekly Cume (overall listenership) of about 85,000.  Today we have closer to 100,000.  Keep in mind Springfield, Ma lost population during this time, and we actually dropped almost ten market positions. 

So, we have more listeners and more revenue than 15 years ago, yet the radio industry still feels it’s not worthy to sit at the grownup table.  This inferiority complex has been going on since the 50’s.  Why would anyone want to listen to local radio when they have TV? Why would anyone want to listen to radio when they have satellite?  Why would anyone want to listen to radio when they have Pandora?

The answer then and now has always been the same.  Content is king.  Crap content is still crap no matter how it’s delivered.  If radio would concentrate on serving the local community with great content, they wouldn’t have to worry about every new form of entertainment that comes along.

The problem is the industry feels guilty.  Most stations offer canned voice tracks that don’t engage a local audience.  So when a Slacker or Pandora comes along, the radio industry feels threatened that this will be the tipping point.  The time when listeners finally realize, “wow—local radio doesn’t really care about me anymore”

Live, local, relevant radio will survive when collectively it cares about the product and serving their cities of license.

Mine Is Bigger than Yours!–The Ballad of Black Friday

I dare you to try and enjoy  “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” without seeing  285 Black Friday commercials—This year Wal-Mart even used AC/DC’s “Back and Black” as the official Wal-Mart song for the day after Thanksgiving–With one hour left until Black Friday comes to a close, I thought I’d write an open letter to Wal-Mart about how they could change the entire Holiday shopping fiasco with a single act of Black Friday rebellion.

However, before I do, let me explain why the most famous shopping day of the year has gone hay wire.  The day after Thanksgiving used to be the cherry on top of a retail year–an extra jump start to the holidays. Slowly it became a necessity for a store to make a profit for the year. Wal-Mart, Kmart, Sears and Macy’s were the big boys, opening up around 6am.  Well, 6am became 5a, than 4am, and now its midnight the night before–and every retail store in the country offers earlier and bigger sales.  Anything to lure holiday shoppers in.  It has become a “mine is bigger than yours” retail jungle. Not to mention the Black Friday bomb threats and shoppers being maced for rioting.

 I chose Wal-Mart because they are the biggest, and most Black Friday shoppers seem to end up there.   (And usually there is at least one story about someone being crushed trying to get the GI Joe with the kung fu grip)

So, here is my idea for America’s biggest retailer.  Take all that advertising and say, “As America’s largest retailer we have decided to change the rules for Holiday shopping”.  Than proceed to come up with a new day.  My choice would be”Blue Monday” (Wal-Mart’s colors, plus they could use Foreigners’ “Blue Monday” since they seem to like classic rock)…Wal-Mart could change thinking and shopping habits.  If  Monday won’t work, use another day.  Maybe the Friday before Christmas.   Think about the message.  “Our  shoppers mean a lot to us–Black Friday has become inconvenient and dangerous…this year spend it with your families,  because Wal-Mart is introducing  “Blue Monday”-(Or whatever day is decided on).  Offer sales on Black Friday, but do the deep discounting on Blue Monday.  I bet some shoppers would even save some of their budgets waiting for Wal-Mart’s sale day. 

I’ve been criticized about this Blog taking complex issues and making them too simple.  Life is much more complicated.  It doesn’t have to be–every great idea sounded ridiculous in the beginning.  Let’s make 2012 a year where we get back to basics and make life simpler.  Something needs to change—or pretty soon Black Friday sales will begin on the 4th of July.

You’re welcome Wal-Mart!

The Pick and Roll

What can Springfield learn from Hershey Pennsylvania?  Have you ever been to Hershey?  Close your eyes and think about  the trip.  Even if you never have been, I’m certain you heard about  about those lamp posts shaped like candy kisses…Like  a life size game of candy land, that image will stay with you the rest of your life.

Back to Springfield.  My friend Todd Demers and I were having lunch yesterday,  and we started brainstorming about how we could create that Hershey feel in Springfield.  As we brainstormed, two things quickly surfaced.

(A)- Springfield should be known worldwide as the city of Basketball.

(B)- There is no easy way to get from The Basketball Hall of Fame to the downtown–Rt 91 is basically the Western Mass Berlin wall.

Using the premise that little things leave the most lasting impressions, we came up with the following–(1)-All the light polls downtown  should be shaped like basketballs–Expensive? Yes.  But with sponsors, and maybe a reach out to the NBA,  not out of the question. (2)- The PVTA sets up a half hour schedule that goes from the Basketball Hall of Fame to all areas of interest downtown–(Including all the hotels)–You know that you could  go out of your hotel room at the Hilton,  and get anywhere in the city–Every half hour.

We call  this new service…Wait for it… The Springfield Pick and Roll.  A basketball term that describes exactly what we are doing–Picking people up and rolling them through the city.  The word of mouth alone would make this successful..And every media outlet would jump on the story.

Crazy?  Yea, but crazy enough to work.  Picture the original board meeting in Hershey about the light posts—“You want to put Hershey kisses where?”

Isn’t It Ironic? Dont Ya Think?

 The great Halloween storm of 2011 was to be  the final proof–The  #1 reason way local radio is alive and well,  and why 95% of American’s tune in at some point during the week–Yes even with Pandora, Satellite, IPods,  Spotify,  and dozens of other options that fight for ears and eyeballs.  Radio is still a local medium that shines brightest during times of crisis–Over here at the radio ranch, Adam Rivers broadcasted live for 15 straight hours to make sure the information got out to the people.  Our competitors?  Well some did ok, some phoned it in, some never showed up, and some just  plain sucked–Their time to shine and they dropped the ball.

So where does the Irony come in?  The stations who got it done in the Hartford area are now being penalized because Arbitron/Hartford is dropping two weeks with of PPM data because of the power outage.  So when (some) of  radio was at its best, the meter wasn’t running…What?  Thousands of little battery operated radios falling on deaf ears?  No cell phone, no power, no information–Except a few radio stations who take their license serious..

Radio has a responsibility—Keeping the public informed is priority #1.  The radio stations who kept the local communities of Springfield and Harford informed during this disaster don’t get any credit?—A dark day for Radio and PPM

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