Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Are Broadcasters About to Spend Another 24 Months in a Flaming PR Dungeon?

When XM and Sirius hit the marketplace, the companies’ PR machines (and their Wall Street supporting cast) waged war on traditional broadcasters. And for the most part, they won, at least until the truth overcame the hype.

We spent a couple of years reading and hearing about the destruction of free over-the-air broadcasting. Satellite radio was Radio’s Death Star. It would own car radios. Broadcasting was obsolete.

Guess what. XM and Sirius merged and morphed into the niche business it was always destined to become.

Here we go again. Pandora will likely go public in the near future. The hype, much like that with satellite radio, will become deafening as the Wall Street banks line up to rake in big fees from the IPO and run-up of the stock.

Are broadcasters going to again sit idly by and suffer another two years in the PR dungeon?
Pandora is a cool application. It probably has “legs” in the marketplace. But it is another niche product. It cannot beat “local.” It will not beat us at what we do best.

Broadcasters need to unite to tell their story of free, over-the-air radio. We do not need to spend the next two years listening to “Pandora’s Radio Death Star” story. We have incredible reach in every community in the country. Pandora does not now, and I predict, will not ever have it. Let’s tell the world what Pandora really is… a “cool” niche product.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Media Services Group

1 comment:

  1. Good post George. As a disclaimer I have to admit up front that I'm a radio guy who agrees with you on the "cool" factor of Pandora. I've been a Pandora user since their very early days. It's cool option for music. Like an iPod. (Which, of course, is also ranks pretty high on the "cool" factor.)

    Radio, to its own detriment, has taken plenty of slippage down the "cool" factor chart. Now it's just another option - period. What do we do?

    Local is a huge key as you note, but local in and of itself isn't enough. There are two critical other "C" words needed in the equation: compelling and connected.

    As the economy begins to rebound it's time for radio to make some proactive investments. First and foremost, an investment in talent. Talent able to do more than liner card reads and song intros. Secondly an investment of time and/or money to truly embrace connecting listeners to the stations, to each other, and - well - to advertisers and community leaders via social media. Being the portal to a vibrant and connected community turns local into cool. But it takes much more than having stations streamed on a website, and fan pages and twitter feeds that are not much more than promotional tools.

    These aren't easy overnight remedies. But then again, if some proactive station groups start diving in to begin the process, that can be, at the very least, a growing diversion away from the Pandora Radio Death Star story. And the long term implications for radio's return to "cool" could be huge!