That memo to the troops from Bob Pittman last week was a fascinating window into the mind of the guy who is changing radio broadcasting. (You can read it here, thanks to Radio Ink.)
And along with thousands of Clear Channel employees, you were meant to read it, too. Chances are you did.
I believe that every employee values knowing where the company is going, along with a clear sense of the corporate vision. Pittman talks about the synergies his company has been able to achieve, and the challenges ahead. As both a threat and a nod to reality, he absolutely states that change is “part of our DNA.”
If change – rapid change – isn’t in your bloodstream, perhaps you’ve been on the beach too long. Or maybe it means you’re struggling because there is no way to achieve success in the media business without embracing the idea that tomorrow will be different than today.
Venerable brands are disappearing. Disruption is everywhere. And the ways in which we communicate and connect with one another have been altered in ways that were unimaginable just a few short years ago.
Pittman’s memo reminds his employees of their importance and value, while stressing some of the impressive reach and scope that only Clear Channel can provide. The metrics are truly incredible – 50 million digital users, 90 million mobile downloads, and 237 million monthly listeners to broadcast radio stations.
So as Pittman outlines the Clear Channel “tao,” he’s also challenging his competition to redefine their paths, their MOs, and their solutions. He’s saying, “Here we are, this is where we’re headed, so compete against us as you will.”
It’s a lot like the Yankees. They’re on the world’s biggest stage, they have the deepest pockets, they have a long, rich history, and they’re all about winning. You pretty much know what they’re going to do and how they’re going to go about it. If you want to compete, you have to go big, go home, or get awfully lucky. Usually that last option doesn’t work.
So if you’re not at Clear Channel (or another mega company), what’s your path to success? What’s in your DNA? What can your station provide that perhaps they cannot?
When you read the memo, what does Pittman say – and what doesn’t he say – about the values his company stands for?
How about a customer experience like no other? The beauty of being a part of a smaller company is the ability to serve – whether it’s the way you connect with fans on the air or via social media or by showing up around town, in schools, and at community gatherings. These are values that most large companies – and pure plays – are going to have a tough time fulfilling. On a local stage, radio and its personalities can shine.
On that note, there is the concept of creating great relationships with station listeners? Our Techsurvey continues to point to the power of emotional connections and radio’s ability to cement relationships on-air, online, and in person. More and more, consumers want to play a role in the media they enjoy. This is a tough putt with syndicated talent and national voicetracking. But with local talent and tune-in management, relationships with the audience, community leaders, and hometown businesses are well within your reach.
And how about a commitment to content excellence? Not just letting anything on the air and on the stream because sales sold it or because it’s just for a few minutes…or a few hours. For too long, radio has taken a “good enough” approach, but the industry has to step it up, whether it’s the on-air product, the stream, and yes, even client promotions and marketing programs.
When you look at the “smaller fish” that are doing well in this environment, these elements typically play a role in how they’re playing the game. They may not be a part of a mega-company, but they think and act big.
And it doesn’t mean that Clear Channel isn’t about these things. But it does mean that there are lots of different ways to win – whether you’re playing baseball or you’re in the media content and marketing business. That was the story of Moneyball and it could be the story of your company, cluster, station, or your show.
What’s in your DNA?
Thanks to WMMR’s Bill Weston for the friendly kick in the ass.