Tag Archives: radio

In Social Media, Does Age Matter?

An article by recent college grad Cathryn Sloane has been widely shared over the past few days. The woman, a St. Louis native, suggests that nobody over the age of 25 should be hired to do social media work. Apparently, she was serious. (Click HERE for the article.)

Her rant was triggered by help-wanted ads for social media managers that require several years of experience. Her point is those in the class of 2012 have been personally involved in social media for several years. She writes, “We spent our adolescence growing up with social media.”

The blowback has been quick and fierce. Responses range from benign amusement to resentful anger. But the question persists: Does she have a valid point?

My generation, the Baby Boomers, has a bit of swagger because there are so many of us. Unlike the Millennials, we were not raised with our fingers attached to a computer keyboard. We are not “digital natives,” as are those born in the last 25 years.

But do we, the Boomers (and the Gen Xers), lack the abilities to spread information via social networks? No. In fact, we may be better equipped to do so, thanks to our experiences in writing and editing (sometimes with pencil or a typewriter). Many of us who have worked in media, marketing or both know the necessity of connecting with followers, also known as listeners, viewers, readers and customers.

Other media have always been social in nature, if not in designation. Radio, for instance, has always responded to listener feedback. Instead of “likes,” listeners have picked up the phone to say, “Play more Lynyrd Skynyrd. Stop playing the Dixie Chicks.”

Technology advances. In 2012, we have new and different channels. But today’s social media managers are performing tasks that are not that different from some performed by previous generations. The bottom line, the key to success, is an ability to communicate clearly and to monitor responses. As the author of the article concedes in her next-to-last paragraph, “The truth is, regardless of age, some people have a better handle on social media than others.”

The writer of this article should know that persons of all ages have felt the sting of such limitations as “minimum five years experience.” Talk to a few Boomers and Gen Xers, especially those making career changes. They’ll tell you it’s not just a problem faced by the young.

My guess is the attention this item has garnered will help this woman get a decent job offer, experience or not. Whether her points are right or wrong, they have produced a good amount of discussion. And in 2012, an ability to generate genuine online heat is a good one to have.

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Traditional Media: Not Quite Dead

Look, I enjoy the internet, mobile apps, social media, blogging, texting, email, etc. as much as the next guy. Actually, in most cases, more than the next guy. I watch TV shows on Hulu, listen to music on Spotify, get much of my news from the web.

But I am tired of hearing people—especially bright people in PR and marketing—say that traditional media are dead. They are not. Certain outlets may not be healthy, but TV, radio and print are still reaching millions of people daily.

I recall a presentation earlier this year in St. Louis about the power of Twitter to engage and motivate people. The presenter made the point that his agency’s campaign was so successful on Twitter that it got his cause coverage on radio and in the newspaper. In other words, one of his milestones for social media success was obtaining some love from traditional media.

When you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, a mobile app may give you the reason why. But if you want trustworthy local traffic info, you will likely dial up a local terrestrial radio station.

Google spent $213 million on TV, newspaper and magazine ads in 2011.

On my Twitter timeline, I see numerous tweets everyday about content in newspapers, on television and on radio. Maybe that’s just an indication of who I follow, but it points out that a decent amount of the content on social media is about traditional media.

Newspapers still reach a significant number of readers. If you had a choice of getting a feature story in your local metropolitan daily paper or on the most popular local blog, which would you choose?

Television still reaches huge numbers of viewers. Would you rather have coverage on a morning TV news show or would you rather post your Youtube video to your Facebook page?

Radio still has tons of listeners. Would you rather your event get a mention from a top morning drive radio show or would you prefer it get listed on Yelp or a similar website?

You may or may not favor traditional media outlets, but don’t discount their reach and their power.

Sidebar note: Always, ALWAYS, remember that the word “media” is plural.

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What I’ve Learned About PR From My Career In Radio

From college radio to on-air gigs in Philly, Dallas and, since 1988, in St. Louis, I have dealt with and generally enjoyed my dealings with numerous PR people. Here are a few ideas I have picked up along the way that may provide guidance to those in the “media relations” area of PR.

  1. Don’t tell me that an interview guest you are pitching “is really funny and personable” if he/she is, in fact, a dud.
  2. Don’t leave me a three-minute voice mail message.
  3. Don’t send me a lengthy release when all I want is a basic fact sheet.
  4. Don’t pitch me an interview for a celebrity who is coming to my town and then have the celebrity call in from his hotel room three blocks away from the station.
  5. Don’t tell me how much your client values my station if the ad agency is spending tens of thousands on paid spots other stations and none on mine.
  6. Don’t ask me “how many listeners do you have?” There are too many different answers to that question.
  7. Don’t be upset if I record a 15-minute interview and edit it down to 2 ½ minutes for on-air (or online posting). Sometimes a short interview can be more effective than a long one.
  8. If the interview is live, make sure your guest is ready to go at the appointed time. If he is still on the line cracking jokes with the show in Pittsburgh when it’s our turn to chat, that’s not good.
  9. Make sure your guest sounds human, even if his answers are all pre-programmed. Sure, most radio folks will ask similar questions, but encourage your guest to sound spontaneous and not scripted.
  10. Don’t take it personally when I disagree with you that your guest would be “perfect” for my show.
  11. If there was value in my interviewing your client, send a thank-you note or give a quick thank-you call. (If you leave a voice mail, make it quick.)
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Celebrate Your Victories!

Ever had somebody tell you to “keep things on an even keel?” In other words, remain calm. Don’t get too high or too low. I would like to suggest the opposite course.

Enjoy your highs. And take note of your lows. When bad things happen, grieve. When good things happen, celebrate.

I have experienced more happiness than sadness in my life. But when those horrible things do occur, I know that feeling bad for a period of time will allow me to move on when the grieving is done. No, you never forget the death of a loved one, the loss of a good-paying job or the end of a marriage.

You can and must, however, continue living and accomplishing. Make the appropriate and necessary changes and get back on the horse (or whatever metaphorical thing you wish to get back onto).

During my radio career, when #1 ratings were achieved, my wife and I acknowledged success with dinner out every time. When ratings were not so good, bad feelings would settle in for a few days, but I knew when to shake the funk and look ahead.

In my PR work, when a client gets good coverage on TV, radio, in the Post-Dispatch, Business Journal or online, I celebrate. Maybe not with dinner out, but with a happy mood that lasts a day or two. When coverage does not materialize (especially when I know that the content offered is on target), I don’t just grin and bear it. I am disappointed—but only briefly. (I do know, however, not to take it personally.)

Here’s my point: It’s cool to be cool (calm and collected), as long as you do acknowledge your human emotions. You are allowed to have a crappy day every now and then. You are also allowed to be ecstatic when good things happen. Let’s strive for lots more highs than lows!



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