Interview with Erica Farber, President & CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau
April 16, 2012
Earlier this month, Erica Farber was named President and CEO of the RADIO ADVERTISING BUREAU.
The NAB/RAB Show is happening this week in Las Vegas and Erica was generous enough to talk with Merge here on All Access.
I thought it would be fun to play off of those "5 Core Zuckerisms" I wrote about here on Merge earlier this year. These are Mark Zuckerberg's core philosophical tenets behind his company – and no doubt much of what Erica will bring to the RAB. They served as great jumping off points for our conversation.
Focus on Impact
Lori: Zuckerberg says to solve the big problems first.
Walking into the RAB, what are the biggest problems facing radio when it comes to revenue generation?
Erica: Radio must develop and cultivate relationships at the advertiser level and we can do that by understanding their marketing goals and then in turn provide them with actionable and accountable solutions. Radio must continue to increase its share of dollars and diversify well beyond the top 5 categories (Automotive, Communications, Restaurants, TV/Networks/Cable and Financial) to gain the confidence that these top categories already have in our medium. We're seeing those gains in some of the work we are doing with certain advertisers – like Target and Allstate. It's important we grow our share of ad dollars and continue to make inroads with advertisers for the overall health of our business.
Radio also needs to continue to invest and support what is most valuable – our stations, our brands. This includes everything from programming and content to multi-platform delivery and most importantly, the sales staff.
Lori: Opportunities are lost when companies/industries don't move fast enough.
Where could radio be moving along at a faster pace?
Erica: Radio needs to be certain that our sellers have the tools to be competitive in today's marketplace. Sellers today must be well versed in the nuances of being a marketing partner – understanding the challenges and business needs of their clients.
According to a report from Borrell Associates, digital-only sales staffs have a better understanding of their customer's needs. Courses like Certified Radio and Integrated Marketing Consultant (CRMCi) and the Certified Digital Marketing Consultant (CDMC) series can help sellers to gain the knowledge and provide solutions that today's advertisers are looking for. CRM tools like RAB's Account Manager helps sellers to manage their business from virtually anywhere. Technology is moving quickly so we need to be certain that we are moving right along with it.
Lori: Radio is still doing many things the same old way - caller 10 contests, van hits, etc. A lot of this bleeds over to social media where many stations aren't building relationships - they're just running promos on Facebook and Twitter.
What could radio do to be bolder in the social space?
Erica: Social media emulates what Radio has always been the best at – creating personal connections. Radio stations already have those personal connections but what's key is how Radio can expand further on those relationships.
Some broadcasters have gone well beyond broadcasting their content over the airwaves or across digital devices and have taken advantage of technology. They've developed station coupon sites like Sweet Jack, or offer ways to let the listeners program. These are some examples of how radio is being bold but radio isn't stopping here – as technology continues to evolve, radio will as well. It's done so for the past 92 years!
Lori: When people have more information about your vision, goals and strategies - they can make better decisions and lend to your success.
How open do you see your role as the President/CEO of the RAB? And how will social play a part within the RAB?
Erica: I am open to ideas and opinions and believe that I am a good listener. Those are personal traits that are social characteristics – either online or in an office. Radio is a very social medium – its people sharing opinions, news, events and music. It has always been the key to radio.
As the President/CEO of the RAB I will always ask the questions and accept thoughts and ideas any way, anyone wants to respond. We are a vibrant community and I intend to engage as many people in the dialogue as I can.
Social media currently plays a prominent role in many RAB events like the Radio Show, Radio Mercury Awards, and Radio On! Creative Workshops. We've also started to test social media in our member communications including Radio Sales Today and The Pitch. I hope to do more in the future. Admittedly with all of the tools available at our finger tips I still intend to be as high touch as humanly possible and that includes live, face-to-face communication and the use of the phone – remember what that is?
Lori: If you're referring to my smartphone, yes. But landline? I just realized the other day my daughter has never seen a landline in her own home. Her generation fascinates me – no magazines, newspapers, even very little TV. She still loves radio – and has her favorite radio station, but many other traditional media outlets have little presence in her daily life.
Build Social Value
Lori: So, as people continue to consume content beyond the traditional platforms, how can radio build social value?
Meaning how can radio earn "social reputations" that keep their brand in the hands (& the hearts) of the fans- and at the same time help advertisers with social media tools?
Erica: I've mentioned some ways that radio has continued to build its relationship with listeners via social media tools and I know everyone is struggling with determining the return on investment of their social efforts.
Radio is the only medium that reaches listeners throughout their day – in-car, at home or work, and on the go. Radio's ability to deliver content to listeners when and where they want it, target listeners by age, lifestyle, etc. through its formats – all in a receptive environment - are unique traits that advertisers can take advantage of. And each station has a special relationship with their individual listeners.
Social media takes Radio's one-to-many messaging and delivers it one-to-one. It provides listeners and advertisers with a digital platform to generate an interactive dialogue, provide sampling opportunities or experience a brand first-hand. Social media allows for stations to connect listeners throughout their various touch points and provide advertisers with the opportunity to deliver their message at the most relevant times of a listener's day.
Lori: Erica brings an impressive track record in management and radio sales to the RAB. And Radio has no better friend and staunch supporter.
We all wish Erica the best and look forward to her leadership in radio at the RAB. I hope to see you this week in Las Vegas.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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