Saturday, February 10, 2007

RAB07, Day 3

Well, it was another long day of great events at the RAB convention. Because I got up and out late and the Quality Inn shuttle was on another route, I missed breakfast. But at least I was able to get a glass of juice and hear keynote speaker Jon Coleman of Coleman Insights of North Carolina talk a little bit about the impact of radio commercials on listening audiences. He threw out a ton of numbers about audience retention during ads with a case study performed on Houston radio listeners. With a new PPM system, the Arbitron rating system tracked how people listened to radio in that market and it found that even with advertising breaks as long as six minutes, 92 percent of radio listeners didn’t change the channel when the ads came on. This goes against what agencies and even radio programmers perceive to be as the norm, closer to 60 to 65 percent. Arbitron’s new PPM, or Portable People Meters, is a new way of measuring ratings, which can track exposure to any broadcast signal. The Arbitron Web site describes the PPM as "The Portable People Meter is a mobile-phone-sized device that consumers wear throughout the day that works by detecting identification codes that can be embedded in the audio portion of any transmission."
I’m totally fascinated by data and behaviors so I found this conversation really intriguing even though I didn’t take any notes. I’ve seen the presentation previously and knew that I could just post the study here on the site later on today.
If you are interested in reading the entire study, click here: ["What Happens When the Spots Come On"].

There weren't a lot of roundtable discussions at RAB but I did get to attend one with three different female general sales managers talking about how they got into the business and what they look for in sales reps. "Advice from the A-Team: Practical Skills for Today's Radio GSMs" was the title of the talk and it was moderated by Erica Farber, the editor of Radio & Records Magazine. The talk was hosted by the Radio MIWs or Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio but Farber was nice enough to note that it wasn't going to be a female-centered talk and we guys who attended would be more than happy to hang around. It actually turned out to be a really good session with a lot of good information.
The three panelists were from three different sized markets but seemed to have similar experiences about just falling into radio. Jacqueline Schillereff of WNOR in
Norfolk thought she was applying for a DJ position when she was first hired as a sales rep. She then had to shift gears and try to convince her future boss that she was cut out for sales. Years later, she is the GSM. Judy Lakin is a GSM from a station cluster in Houston and started out as a marketing assistant. She then got interested in radio sales, working for Clear Channel in Dallas, then a small mom and pop station in Austin - where she earned twice as much money - and then for Cox where she is now. Ginger Nimmons works for East Texas Radio Group of Longview and she went into radio after running her own restaurant for seven years and getting burnt out from the experience. After running into her former radio sales rep. at the grocery store, she was convinced over lunch to try it out and she loved it. Nimmons later realized that she didn't want to be at the bottom of the heap and did everything she could do to get a better position and now, she's the GSM.
The conversation turned to a bunch of different topics including what are the best things to look for in new employees, how do you motivate the team, and tips on how to stay on top of your game.
Schillereff said she thought one of her strengths was her ability to pull people together as a team while Lakin said it was important to always be a leader. Lakin said she stayed on top of her game by multitasking and leading a balanced life while being passionate about her work. Nimmons said she looked for new ideas and also requested more vacation time when she got her promotion so that she was able to have more downtime for herself. Schillereff said discipline and controlling how you act at all times, staying balanced, and exercising. You are the energy you project, she said.
All three agreed that it was important to be a caring boss and to go the extra mile when commending employees for good work.
There was also some discussion about how to deal with a situation when you have a maniac for a boss. Schillereff said in those situations, it was difficult to establish a positive culture in a business environment with a leadership change. Nimmons said there was so much tension at her company when she first started because management had fired the morning team after 15 years on the air and clients were really mad about the situation. However, she saw the entire situation as an opportunity to improve herself. If you want to do it bad enough, you will find out how to isolate yourself from the stress, she said. Lakin suggested weekly meetings behind closed doors with difficult people.

After a good dose of femininity, I thought it was time to get a little masculinity into the program. So I attended "Maximizing Your Revenue," which was hosted by Sean Luce of the Luce Performing Group. I've seen Luce before and he is a really good speaker. Luce is cocksure and has a presence about him that exudes confidence. He's quick and he looks you straight in the eye while bringing home his points. While at the same time, he isn't cocky or arrogant. He does a good job for his clients and he knows it. Luce wants you to win too and you can sense that.
After some bouncing disco music and a quick aerobic workout, Luce got down to business, showing us all about these new campaigns he has been working on to boost radio and Internet traffic in
British Columbia. With an Internet portal, an FM radio station has been able to drive thousands to its Web site and is billing top dollar to advertisers. At the same time, the company has created a marketing program with car dealers and some contests to drive money away from newspaper and into Internet. Luce also shared a number of documents with the group, including his Customer Marketing Profile sheet, to gain access to customers, Honda giveaway promotion, and played a couple of inspirational videos to drive home the point that you can't succeed if you don't give it your all.

After lunch, and a slightly depressing speech by Mercedes Ramirez-Johnson, about losing her parents in a jetliner crash where she was one of only four survivors, I decided to take a break for a bit before the next session, "Survivor: Radio 2007," with Kevin O'Brien of Broadcast Adventures.
O'Brien had a very thorough presentation which he surmised would help us rap up everything after a very productive convention ... and he was right about that.
Some key points: Radio needs new, better, and renewed leadership; Management positions have become less creative and more administrative - while hinting that this should change; and Leadership has no title, meaning everyone should be a leader and should represent the company in a positive manner, from the station manager to the lowly part-time weekend board op.
Change can happen when we least expect it so be prepared for anything, he said. Open your eyes, know what you need to know, keep your skills current, and keep your options open without abandoning your core. He also suggested that selling advertising was a disaster and sales reps. should be more focused on helping clients market their entire business. Get away from "radio promotions" and instead do a "retail promotion." Have customers utilize different ad times with different ads. Use the 60s to tell their story while the short ads can reinforce the company's core message.
Consider the "grief-to-gross" ratio of everything whether it is advertising, prospects or employees, O'Brien said. Some folks aren't worth the time and grief. Think less about the wedding and more about the marriage, whether you are taking a job, hiring a new employee, or bringing in new clients. At the same time, use three words to focus your career: Right, Better, Fun. If you're always doing the right thing, you'll be alright. If you're always doing the best thing, you'll be alright. And if you're having fun, there's no better career.

After the last session there was a wrap up get together at the upstairs bar at the Hyatt, up one floor from the lobby of the hotel. One of the great things about these gorgeous hotels is the architecture. Tons of open glass, waterfalls, and I would imagine, amazing views from the rooms. I got a free beer from one of the stations and sat down for a few minutes to chat with some folks. Most of the people were RAB staffers hanging out just chatting. I later played a game of pool by myself and went over to sit for a few minutes in a lounge area with couches. Before I sat down, I recognized the three people as people I had had lunch with: A guy from Australia, a guy from Idaho, and a woman who attended the seminar separately.
We got to talking about things and about Betsy Lazar's talk from the lunch before. I had mentioned that I had some stuff on my blog and gave the site to the Australian guy. He saw the Politizine name and looked up and said, "You're Tony!" Not realizing it, but I had talked to this guy, Simon Vella, back in December about the NAB and RAB radio conferences. He had read my postings about NAB and wondered if I had any experience with RAB and whether or not it was worth going to promote his interactive wireless company.
The company is called dload []. So both Vella and his American affiliate Richard Rene, came to the event this year to check it out. We all had a laugh about how weird it was that we had all sat together at the lunch previously and we didn't know we had already talked via email. I guess if I was a bit more curious, I would have found that out at lunch. But we were all so hungry I didn't think anything of it.
We talked a little bit about the dload concept - basically, a digital database marketing rental for radio stations about listeners via wireless phones interaction - and some other stuff before they had to take off. I will check out their site when I have a bit more downtime.

Tomorrow: It's Dealey Plaza and the Book Depository and then I head back home.

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