Talent Fights Back: How To Keep Sales People Out Of The Studio
by Tracy Johnson
This story is a classic. I love it when talent fights back. The morning show has been at the station for many years, and had great relationships with the sales team. To their credit, this is an advertiser-friendly show that really cares about the station’s success in all areas. But they had a problem.
The sales team had fallen into a habit of entering the studio anytime they had a question. This had gone unchecked for years, despite the PD’s best efforts to get them to respect the show’s hours on the air. Nothing seemed to work.
Over time, new competition came into the market. The show’s ratings started to slip and the quality of the show had declined. That’s one of the problem points where many stations end up hiring me. During my first visit, watching the show perform was like sitting in a coffee shop at Grand Central Station. The traffic in and out of the studio was constant.
I brought it up in the post-show meeting. It was clear that there was a problem. Past efforts to fix it had failed and the two biggest offenders were the cluster’s top sales people.
Talent Fights Back
With the General Manager’s permission, the show taught them a lesson and fixed the problem.
We found out that those two offenders (and the sales manager) had a meeting scheduled with the biggest ad agency in the market to discuss several clients. It was an important presentation that started at 2pm.
At 2:20, after just enough time for them to get into the meat of their presentation, the morning show walked into the meeting without knocking. They just burst in and started asking the sales people questions about promotions and ads for accounts that had nothing to do with the agency.
The meeting was disrupted, the flow of the pitch destroyed and the account executives were clearly flustered. And embarrassed.
They account executives were furious, and all hell broke loose. The GM moderated a meeting with the show and the PD, and calmly explained that this is exactly what happens many times a day, every time a sales person comes into the studio.
The sales manager got the point, and issued a direct order that prohibited his people from contacting any air personalities while on the air. With no exceptions. In an emergency, they can communicate with the PD, not the show.
And the air talent made a commitment to be available to sales for 45 minutes per day, four days a week (Monday-Thursday).
Because they are sales-friendly air personalities, the show called the ad agency to apologize and explain. Then sent cookies as a goodwill gesture.
The station had a great relationship with them, and everyone at the agency had a great laugh about it.
Internally: The problem was solved. And, to my knowledge, has not raised it’s ugly head again.