33 Things To Help Save American Media From Itself
January 4, 2011
Moving into 2011, we gotta recognize the crisis in content brilliance in traditional American media -- and be the ones who deliver the stunning new possibilities we're capable of. If we don't do it, either ...
a) No one else (in the U.S.) will, and we'll lose in yet another industry category.
b) Somebody beats us to it because it appears the only ones who don't see the problems are generally those in the business.
Both not good. I know the playbook can be rewritten in a similar way to what:
- The Beatles did to music
- The Asians did to cars
- McDonald's did to burgers
- Disney did to Coney Island
- Southwest did to airlines
...you know---A.F.D.I. .... Truly and noticeably moving the American media forward. If everything was fine, okay ... but it's not fine. This country is getting clobbered in so many industries. To be so backwards-facing, arrogant and afraid of real creative thinking in an area we invented (modern entertainment media) is not necessarily fiction.
Using American local television as an example, exciting and prosperous times are possibilities as long as we liberate ourselves to move forward ... and start to balance the economic survival thinking with the things that'll drive every aspect of success -- modernization and re-thinking of what comes out of the screens and speakers. Read on.....
- Other than preserving the license and goodwill, there are no creative rules.
- Winning big usually creates two things: exhaustion and personal success (both are worth it).
- Sound production is what turns black-and-white sound into Technicolor. Sound is to the ear what color is to the eye.
- It's not yet too late for radio to once again become respected, admired and loved ... but time is running out.
- The biggest killer is denial that radio is creatively fine. It's not.
- The second biggest killer is living in the world where everything is assumed fine and/or will be fine once the economy improves. It's not the economy as much as using the economy as an excuse.
- The news and format architecture still works, but is crying for re-invention.
- Slick production quality is overrated and brilliance is underrated. Meaning it's better to have funky brilliance than well-produced same-old.
- The sheep factor is everywhere in the entertainment business. Blind leading the blind. The circle of average.
- The sheep factor cancels you out. If everyone has the same booming fake voices and slick production, there's no differentiation. It's fast food radio ... and unfortunately we are not always McDonalds. (If you are dominant - okay ... if you're not ...you get the idea.
- Quality does not mean slick, upscale or expensive. A bum likes quality seats to a ball game.
- No one likes their intelligence insulted. Even a 60 IQ person resents being talked at, yelled to, or told which seems to be the accepted style of promotion (be sure to ... don't forget ... we'll be right back, don't go away.)
- The nacho factor: If someone is flipping through stations focused on their salty snack food, are you different enough to stand out ... or is the nacho more interesting?
- Programming/content/creative is a balance of art/science/empathy/street smarts/modernism. Lacking any one of these factors is deadly. Empathy is especially important in "reading" listeners without bias.
- In entertainment, assholes and ego cases are always second-tier players. True winners exude confidence and swagger, not bad vibes and hostility.
- If we don't aggressively seek and deliver a new sound, no one will ... and a massive opportunity is lost.
- Being in sync with 2011 is hard. Gotta work at it. Most stations are in sync with 1988 ... and don't even consider the importance of re-thinking content in the Apple/Google era as a priority.
- Over-simplifying is a disease. It's not as shallow as finding a new imaging voice, re-arranging the clocks and moving the weather to :10 to create differentiation.
- Balancing mechanics with soul. Sometimes we're so engaged in the mechanics we forget about the soul. Need both.
- Most media promotional advertising in the U.S. is so dated in style that it wastes more time and money than has positive effect.
- Media boardroom buzzwords are as dangerous as j-speak. They exist in a world far from the streets in a business that is all about the streets. Call me ... don't ping me.
- Like in football -- if the other guy fumbles, who cares unless you recover ... and run for a touchdown! Too many recover the mistake ... and sit there.
- Late 20th century broadcasting was delivered to serve and cheat rating services. Whining about, serving or cheating ratings takes the eye off the things that really matter. Ratings will follow content that excites the mainstream.
- Winning is 10% luck. 10% smarts and 80% simply going through the exercise of "re-thinking" everything before you execute it. Is it perfect? Can it be better? Is it up to new standards? Is it the best you can do with the resources available?
- (The foundation) is offense/defense/special teams ... evolving to brilliant requires a balance of insanity and detail in the execution.
- All people with new ideas are nuts until they work...then they are geniuses.
- Thick skin is a requirement to move forward because in the blogosphere the majority will denigrate anything remotely different.
- In mass terms ... dumb stuff peaks fast (boy bands). Smart stuff lasts (Simpsons). Elite stuff never gets off the ground.
- It's our job to turn numbers (users) into fans.
- Denial kills. If something ain't right, do what you can do to fix it. Admit it -- we all carry some denial.
- Changers are the good guys. The liberators. Serving a major function in changing America.
- America has lost its edge in cars, electronics, etc. ... and now we're losing it in media. We are so far from the cutting edge, it's scary ... we're wallowing in cheap and disposable. The talent is here to change that if we let ourselves.
- Technology is the new carrier. It carries crap just as well as brilliance. The Internet and emerging technologies will not save the world from tired content.
... there's more of course, but a new style of thinking is needed, which some of these points represent. We need to liberate the people who "get" this ... and there are a lot who do.