Mark Ramsey is one of the smartest marketing guy’s in Radio. I do NOT agree with a lot of Marks’ presuppositions about Social Media and how it relates to Radio and its long-term importance in general, but that’s what makes horse races. All that being said, Mark recently posted on markramseymedia.com what I think is a spot-on article dealing with the concept of pre-awareness and how Radio is really, really missing the mark. I mean it, head over there now and read it.
The bottom line is that Radio in general just doesn’t take advantage of and tap into the top-of-mind/pre-awareness the same way other media does, often with great effect. It’s really a damn shame too, because Radio is in an almost exclusive position to take advantage of the immediacy of broadcasting and exploit existing pre-awareness.
A few weeks ago I pointed out that is was really insane that no one in Cleveland, or Ohio for that matter offered Charles Ramsey an on-air gig. Think Charles Ramsey’s fifteen minutes of fame is up? Think again. The latest Ramsey poop is that he can’t keep a job because fans kept coming into the kitchen where he works, wanting to shake his hand. His popularity got him fired! Popularity is one concept that won’t get you sent to the beach in radio. He’s still getting press, your radio station isn’t!
OK, let’s move on. George Zimmerman is a G*D Damn world-wide media sensation. Seems to me there’s a couple of pretty well known talkers in Orlando (I’m looking at you WDBO and WTKS) but Zimmy says he’s gonna’ go to law school. Hell, all you have to do is offer him the damn gig just to get the press. We did this at WIOD, Miami with OJ Simpson. Clear Channel Miami OM Peter Bolger rang me on the phone with this idea when OJ moved to Miami. We knew he wouldn’t consider it, but if he did, wow! great! We still got the press and all it took was a press release.
OK, Tom Joyner, who (IMHO) may not be the most talented host on the planet, is still one smart dude. He knew how to milk his way into world-wide awareness with his own fly-jock saga. I worked with Tom briefly at ABC acting as a liaison between his staff, engineering and the other parties involved getting his studio built, production cranking and staff in place. Just for the record, I’m a cranky bastard and I really, really wanted to have an excuse to hate the guy. But honestly, Tom Joyner was one of the nicest people I’ve known in radio. The latest proof that fly-fock Joyner gets the concept of pre-awareness and knows how to exploit a timely and obvious opportunity when he sees one? Joyner set his sights on Rachel Jeantel, the testimonialy (sic) challenged witness in the George Zimmerman trial. Joyner is offering to “pay for tutors to help her graduate high school and provide her with a full scholarship to the historically Black college or university of her choice.” He may be old-school, but Tom Joyner is one radio personality who really gets pre-awareness.
Radio Programmers need to start thinking again. Too many years of sitting behind Selector, running Radio Stations on auto-pilot with instructions from the corporate mothership, have created an entire generation of creatively retarded management. Couple this with so many in Radio Programming chasing the silicon snake oil of New Media and not paying attention to their real product (that thing comes out of the speakers), and it’s no wonder that all these opportunities are missed.
All that being said, keep in mind that pre-awareness is an important concept to embrace, but it’s not bulletproof. Hollywood banks heavily on pre-awareness of their brands and stars, but lately this strategy hasn’t been paying off at the box office. Johnny Depp’s global pre-awareness couldn’t keep The Lone Ranger from bombing (actually, Johnny Depp has had three bombs in a row). In fact, you might call the summer of 2013 the summer of blockbuster pre-awareness fail. But Radio, don’t use that as an excuse. It’s time for Radio Programmers and Talent to get back to exploiting, using and discovering what’s top of mind and pre-aware in your market and the world. Or not.