Industry Views

Pending Business: Do You Know?

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imI’m no expert, but I do have a theory.

The American media business is the most competitive and advanced in the world. Many other countries directly or indirectly control their airwaves and print publications. Not here, no way, not as long as the First Amendment protects freedom of the press. Yet with that historic, awesome guarantee in place, why are newspapers failing, magazines gutting staff and many of the newer dot coms hitting the wall?

It is inevitable that daily print publications like the LA Times and the Washington Post cut back. We’ve come a long way since Guttenberg, but low-tech printing presses, paper and ink are just not fast enough to keep up with the 24/7 information cycle. I can understand the financial woes caused by bloated staffs at Buzzfeed, Vice and most recently at Business Insider. But when Sports Illustrated gave notice to its writing crew, now you are messing with arguably the most successful sports magazine of all time.

S.I. knew how to attract great writers delivering iconic story lines. We’re talking writers like Rick Reilly, the late Frank Deford, J.F.K. – yes, the late president – Carl Sandburg and one of my favorite characters of all time the late cigar chomping New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin. Martha Stewart on the cover, not for me.

What happened here? The simple answers are: Too much debt, too much overhead, and too slow to recognize and act on shifting dynamics.

Yet People magazine, which has been around for 50 years and if you believe Statista, now reaches over 82 million readers a month! Can you name the last time People won a Pulitzer for a story? Yet we can all learn a critical lesson from the continued success of People. Even those of us in management in the radio/audio business.

Here comes my big theory which you can apply to content, sales, sales management, and everything else important in life.

1) Know your audience. People is focused on celebrities and rarely gets a story wrong.

2) Keep it simple. People is about pictures and easy to understand storylines.

3) The original target was women 18-34. As the target demo shifted and lifestyles changed, the content of People adjusted.

Let’s connect the dots in our programming, sales, and sales management world.

1) Are you in step with your audience? Listeners, and advertisers are all part of a dynamic environment. What’s in your planner that forces you to know the “audience” you sell or market to?

2) Do you keep your proposals simple and easy to understand? Fast and focused is the name of the game.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: