Paul Jacobs chimes in on the importance of leadership with vision:
Several years ago, in a last-ditch attempt to save the company, the board of Apple Computers turned to the one person who truly understood the company's core values - Steve Jobs. The rest is history. By restoring the "mojo" of the company and focusing it on leading-edge technology and user-friendly, attractive designs, Apple today is a powerhouse. The halo effect of the iPod has even turned around the fortunes of their long-dormant personal computer business, and now Macs are flying off the shelves.
Over a month ago, a similar event happened at Starbucks. To stop its stock slide and to fend off new competitors like McDonald's, the company is bringing back their original visionary as CEO, current Chairman Howard Schultz. In announcing his "transformation agenda" in a letter to employees, Schultz laid out four goals. Here are two that caught our attention:
- Re-igniting emotional attachment with customers.
- Building for the long term.
Pretty simple, isn't it? These two "bullet points" are the essence of any great brand. And they are "action steps" that the leaders in the radio industry should carefully consider. When you strip away the rhetoric and quiet the pundits, this is the recipe to turn radio around.
One of the most disappointing trends over the past decade has been the exodus of the "celebrity program director" - the visionary who truly understood the station's brand, core values, and its emotional relationship with its listeners. They were the people who defended and protected the brand inside and outside the station. While there are still a handful around, the loss of these outstanding product managers has led to the decline of great radio stations as local media institutions.
We're often asked why, in the face of declining overall listening to radio, Public Radio continues to thrive? It's simple - everything about Public Radio programming is long-term. And they cherish their audience relationships. They're patient, they nurture their programs, they research their listeners' needs.
Their conventions and meetings are more frequent, better attended, and more considerate of the values and qualities that contribute to product development, brand building, and audience relationships. While admittedly they don't suffer under the pressures of Wall Street or profit goals, they are in fact businesses that need to pay bills (with a lot less government support than people think). The bottom line is that Public Radio succeeds because they think long-term.
And while Public Radio doesn't have "celebrity" program directors you've heard of, most have been in their local communities for a long time and understand how to connect with the locals. Additionally, Public Radio's core values are brilliant, concise, and imbedded in the minds of every person responsible for the creation of programming. They are the guiding force behind their emotional attachment with their listeners.
So, the next time you are asked to create a strategic plan, stop writing reports. Learn from great visionaries like Jobs and Schultz, as well as successful broadcasters, perhaps like the Public Radio station in your town.