Jacobs Media 'Summer School' Opens Conclave Learning Conference
A Busy Thursday At The Conclave
July 14, 2011 at 9:54 PM (PT)
JACOBS MEDIA's annual "Summer School" filled the morning sessions at the CONCLAVE LEARNING CONFERENCE in MINNEAPOLIS THURSDAY (7/14) with scheduled presentations on topics ranging from BILL JACOBS' talk on the PPM (including information from MEDIA MONITORS) to RALPH CIPOLLA's "the art of the tease" and LORI LEWIS on using social media. FRED JACOBS discussed the results of the 2011 Techsurvey 7, and MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO's MIKE RESZLER laid out his company's move into the digital world while PAUL KRASINSKI of ARBITRON set forth how his company is addressing the challenges of audience measurement in the digital world. Also on tap for the morning, MICHAEL BRANDVOLD was on hand to talk about his work moving the band KISS into the digital world, and PAUL JACOBS was set to close the morning talking about the development and growth of mobile apps.
FRED JACOBS opened the morning with a look at his company's Techsurvey 7, noting that the use of social media has reached critical mass (77% have a FACEBOOK profile, for example; 4 out of 10 have clicked "Like" on a station's FACEBOOK fan page). Only a fifth of respondents use TWITTER, but the number is a jump from the previous survey. He noted that despite the huge increase in use of social media, users still interact with stations primarily with the station's website, with streaming second and FACEBOOK coming on strong. The figures showed substantial daily engagement by respondents with FACEBOOK and much less so with TWITTER. Respondents saying they want a strong relationship with their station said they want to be able to be on a station "advisory board," interact with the station's FACEBOOK page, and text for prizes; Email, the study showed, still drives loyalty, with FACEBOOK a strong second. And while concert announcements and contests were desired from FACEBOOK page visitors, interaction with station staff showed up with 53% of respondents saying they want to be able to communicate with staffers that way.
BILL JACOBS dissected the PPM, noting that cume is up while TSL is down (about 25%), "tune is coming at a pretty good clip," JACOBS noted, "and tune-out is your enemy." At-work listening, JACOBS said, is strong and should be targeted; he also noted that "good programming matters," showing, for example, how a station getting an interview with homeless voiceover man TED WILLIAMS during that story's prominence got a spike in listening. "Occasions," JACOBS said, are the key to PPM success, giving listeners specific reasons to tune in for special programming. He also stressed the need for "forwarding," promoting what's coming up rather than what's already happened (and keeping it within "realistic" time frames like ten minutes or "at the top of the hour"; teasing is also critical, he said, as is preparing ("every break really matters"), flow (connecting elements in a seamless manner), "editing" (eliminating tune-out), and tracking what works and doesn't.
RESZLER presented a "case study" of MPR's addressing of five questions he described as "the basis of change management when it comes to digital strategies": "What do we want to achieve? Who is our audience, and what do they want from us? How much does broadcast dictate our future? What is the next big thing, and what are we doing about it? (And) What motivates us?" He said that stations should be spending at least a quarter of their time setting goals, and those not doing so should "get out now"; the plan for MPR, he said, was to increase "loyal visitors" (visiting websites 6 times or more per month) by 20% and thus increase MPR's market share and profit. MPR's competition, he said, includes other local media, with the STAR TRIBUNE by far the leader and the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS second; MPR is third, ahead of NBC affiliate KARE-TV, FOX's KMSP-TV (FOX 9), the weekly CITY PAGES, and ABC affiliate KSTP-TV. He said MPR targeted being number one in local social media, with radio being an advantage in that regard; 20% of MPR's website traffic comes from social media, he noted. MPR's use of niched web-only streams (like all-local music), RESZLER said, comes from a desire to give people what they want from the site. The company has also tried to break away from broadcast models by investing in non-broadcast staff like visual journalists and copy editors to convert radio coverage into web-friendly articles, launching web-only channels, and investing in video. Ads for the "next big thing," he said that mobile is already a "big thing" and will only get bigger, and Pandora is also in that category.
LORI LEWIS and FRED JACOBS discussed how ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV/DETROIT anchor STEPHEN CLARK uses Twitter to interact with viewers before and even during his newscasts as what he calls "The Backchannel," which has in turn created a network of people creating news stories and interacting with each other. CIPOLLA followed with his talk on teasing, pointing out cliches ("sports is next," "ZEPPELIN is next") and lack of specificity as problems with some stations' teasing. KRASINSKI presented ARBITRON information about radio listening and new media with excerpts from the "Infinite Dial" study, followed by FRED JACOBS' "Killer B's" tips for programmers to find and develop talent who can connect with audiences (highlighting how MTV hired a "TJ" -- Twitter jockey -- as an example of outside-the-box hiring of non-traditional talent). JACOBS' tips included the need to "be current," "be indispensable" (versatile and necessary), "be like Oprah" (making people believe it's audience-first, thinking multi-platform, and being strong on prep; "she's good," JACOBS admitted), "be social," "be in touch" with social media, email, and on the phones, "be there" showing up to meet the audience, "be local," "be like Bob: (a personality who accepts every job thrown at him and is deeply connected in his community), "be in sales" (so important to clients that they'll pull their ads if you leave), and "be initiating."
After LEWIS ran through social media tips for stations, BRANDVOLD stressed the value of building a brand in building KISS' successful online and merchandising presence, warning that "everything you do will not succeed" but noting how creating things that put fans in the spotlight (like his hit "The Girls of KISS" promotion) tends to be successful. He advised the audience to "listen to your fans; you work for them" and that the "ecret to success is to offend the greatest number of people," noting that "a little controversy is always good... if you can back it up with a passion."
Formats' Future the Focus of Panel
Opening the afternoon sessions, the future of radio programming was the topic for a panel of experts.
CBS RADIO's GREG STRASSELL said that Oldies and Classic Hits stations are "doing great" but becoming an "80's-centered format." He touted the change of the company's WJMK/CHICAGO from the JACK Adult Hits format to Classic Hits as K-HITS, noting that the station has taken a ratings lead in the short time it has been on the air. ALAN BURNS AND ASSOCOATES consultant JEFF JOHNSON noted the difficulty of defining Oldies, noting that in some markets, the JACK FM station is the default Oldies station.
On Adult Contemporary, moderator JOHN BOYNE of COLEMAN INSIGHTS pointed out the wide spectrum covered by AC, and LINCOLN FINANCIAL MEDIA's JOHN DIMICK discussed the differences in the target audience his company's ACs are going for, defining the stations by their lifestyle characteristics. Consultant MIKE MCVAY called AC a "usage-based format," defined by how listeners use it as part of their lives. STRASSELL stressed the need for generating "passion" for the station in an active approach under the PPM, which, he said, eliminated the ability to program AC stations in a "set it and forget it" mode.
STRASSELL said that Classic Rock is under challenge from FM Sports stations, but noted that his company programs both in BOSTON with great success and that he sees "no danger signs ahead" for Classic Rock. MCVAY said that "Classic Rock is really THE rock," calling mainstream rock more of a niche today.
DIMICK addressed the split in Country music between classic and "hot" by saying that his company has found success with its mainstream Country outlets, "I don't think you can be 'niche' in Country and survive" in a PPM world, DIMICK added.
On the supposition that talking between the songs drives ratings down in PPM, JOHNSON said that personalities drive "stickiness" to stations, but that personalities need to be more relevant and make shows more "listener-driven." MCVAY added that "you can't hide from the People Meter" and that talent has to be better prepared and talk "efficiently... talk like you tweet." STRASSELL, however, said that in launching a new station, some of the "clutter" that might otherwise be discarded under the PPM is needed to establish the new station. DIMICK said that "sometimes we get it backwards," forgetting that the people who know and love a station's brand are important regardless of how the weekly PPM figures look. "We don't serve music, we serve so much more," DIMICK said.
BOYNE raised the question of moving spoken-word programming from AM-only to FM or a simulcast, in light of CBS' announcement of News WBBM-A/CHICAGO's pending simulcast on WCFS (105.9 FRESH FM), and STRASSELL touted the company's success with News KCBS-A-KFRC-F/SAN FRANCISCO and Sports WXYT-A-F (97.1 THE TICKET)/DETROIT. DIMICK noted COX MEDIA GROUP's move to simulcast Talk WSB-A/ATLANTA on what is now WSBB-F, and his own company's Sports KFFN-A (THE FAN)/DENVER several years ago to FM, which he called "still a work in progress" due to a proliferation of Sports stations in the market. STRASSELL said that the programming on an FM signal can't succeed with the same "bad programming" from an AM station ("it's not a magic elixir"). MCVAY added that while the move to FM does lower demos by ten years, "that could still be 55," and programming needs to appeal to younger audiences; he also noted that some FM morning shows, like PREMIERE's BOB AND TOM, are effectively talk shows for younger people.
Managers Talk About How They Do Their Jobs
DIMICK figured in a subsequent panel on how the job of managing and programming radio has changed. On the panel, CITADEL RADIO NETWORK's MAUREEN LESOURD stressed the value of having a "team with complimentary skills," adding that having "humility is the key," allowing subordinates to be "the stars." HUBBARD RADIO's DREW HOROWITZ said humility is not ordinarily associated with success, but humility and resolve are two essential qualities to look for when hiring people, meaning that they don't take themselves too seriously but have the inner resolve to be successful. The panel discussed using methods like role playing and other management techniques to mentor and develop staff and talent, and sources for information about business (not specifically radio).
Using Social Media To Build Loyalty
At an afternoon panel on social media. JACOBS MEDIA's LORI LEWIS returned, as did MICHAEL BRANDVOLD, joined this time by CBS RADIO Top 40 WDZH (98.7 AMP RADIO)/DETROIT's BUCKHEAD. LEWIS demonstrated how to use social media as a "conversation with your audience," and showed off sites and apps to examine how your station is engaging with its audience. BRANDVOLD noted that fans "like to be acknowledged" and advised stations to listen to what the fans are excited about, including music clips. BUCKHEAD offered his "5 favorite Facebook tips," and LEWIS discussed turning "likes" into "loyals," using airline KLM's engagement with a customer as an example of how responding effectively to a fan's comment can make that fan loyal. BRANDVOLD suggested using Facebook as a way to drive users to Twitter for things like live-tweeting of events, keeping the Facebook page less cluttered that way.
Going From PD To GM
ALL ACCESS' own JOEL DENVER moderated a late afternoon panel looking at going from programming to general management, with EDUCATIONAL MEDIA FOUNDATION's MIKE NOVAK, JOURNAL BROADCAST GROUP's STEVE WEXLER, and FIG MEDIA (and PEAK BROADCASTING)'s BILL FIGENSHU on the panel. FIGENSHU stressed the value of reliability and respect for sales in rising to management level; NOVAK said management got fun for him "when I realized it was all about the people." On digital and social media, NOVAK said that monetizing it is a "rough road" but that stations should "accept this social media with your arms wide open," hiring the "right people... (and) let(ting) them do their jobs."