The industry trades were abuzz with news about Bob Pittman’s big soiree at Cannes, featuring A-list guests as well as heavy hitters from the advertising industry. No, I was not on the list, but Mariah Carey (who performed) and Shaun White (who did not) were reportedly in attendance.
Clear Channel bashers may take the opportunity to criticize this kind of high-priced social networking. Some might even calculate how many lost radio jobs might be restored for the cost of the hors d’oeuvres and place settings. Others might wonder why these same funds aren’t being used to throw some marketing dollars at some of the company’s premier stations.
But that misses the point, because as we have learned first-hand at events like CES, the radio industry is often in the background or not even present at big media gatherings, often to its own detriment. As we at Jacobs Media have also seen first-hand these past few years, showing up where radio and advertising people congregate, connect, and yes, even party can forge new relationships and identify new opportunities. Yes, a lot of business is done in conference rooms, but as has been the case throughout the history of radio, socializing is very much a part of the mix, too.
Pittman’s partying also reminds me of several comments we received about last week’s “Power of One” blog that started out as a piece about Nielsen’s issues with the L.A. PPM, but moved into a conversation about radio’s tepid sales efforts in the “comments” section of the blog.
While some advocated for radio to take more of an automated approach to selling (because that is where the world is moving), others pointed out that the personal touch continues to play an important role in making connections, telling stories, and positioning brands in an environment where advertisers are often more confused than we are.
We have all been to backyard barbeques and parent-teacher nights where regular folks comment – or lament – about the beaten down state of radio. Connecting with advertisers and reminding them that the venerable medium of broadcast radio is very much alive, vital, and moving products and services is something that needs to happen at every formal and informal gathering we attend.
Say what you will about corporate radio and extravagant parties, but the need for radio to get on more front burners is critical at this point in time. Pittman’s arrival at Clear Channel has signaled a higher profile for radio at precisely the time when other media outlets are vying for above-the-fold presence.
There’s also something to say for going big or going home. You no doubt noted that this party was in Cannes – not in Lake of the Ozarks.
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And as we have advocated before on this blog, we would love to see The Radio Show stake out bigger turf for the same reason. With all respect to markets like Orlando and Indianapolis, holding radio’s biggest conference in New York City or L.A. opens the doors to a bigger stage. Yes, it costs more to stage an event in the nation’s largest markets, but that’s where the movers and shakers live, especially in the advertising and media industries. I’m betting Pittman just might throw a party at The Radio Show in either of those major markets.
In a Wall Street Journal article about the aforementioned Cannes party, the VP of global media at Mondelez International, Bonin Bough, remarked about Clear Channel, “They are on my radar now.” USA Today also covered this event, underscoring that whether it was an over the top party or not, top of mind awareness for an industry that has taken its share of lumps is important. Someone has to throw their weight around.
Party on, Bob.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.