Weekend Read: Advice For iHeart 2.0
Sometime during the back half of 2018 iHeart will emerge from bankruptcy as a smaller debt free company with new owners (its creditors) at the helm. This begs the question . . . how should iHeart run the next iteration of its business? Over the weekend I came across an interesting list of suggestions in the attached Forbes article. Here’s my interpretation . . .
First and foremost, iHeart should recognize what they’re good at, local radio, and play to that strength. Local media spending in the US is expected to top $150B in 2018, so plenty of room to play in this sandbox. iHeart has solid local scale, personalities and promo teams who can execute street-level promotions, and the means to give away tickets to local events until the cows come home. I’ll even give them credit for executing their national concerts like the iHeart Music Fest because it provides flyaway trips to leverage at the station level.
On the flip side iHeart should stop trying to be a cross-platform media play. Their attempt at selling digital is tantamount to bringing a knife to the nuclear arms race currently being waged by Google, Verizon, Amazon, Facebook, etc.. It also doesn’t help when they publish brag stats proclaiming themselves the #1 Media Company in the US, because the overreach of that statement kills the credibility of their sellers.
Last but not least, just be a better company who treats its employees well. Instead of keeping up a swanky Manhattan HQ, complete with a mist tunnel meant to shock and awe visitors, invest more in the local broadcast facilities which are the backbone of the company. And for the love of Pete, stop wasting money on extravagant media industry events. I’ve personally heard clients and agency staff remark about their discomfort in attending an iHeart party at a clifftop castle in Cannes when the company was $20B+ in debt.
I realize the chances iHeart’s senior leadership will heed Forbes’ advice (or mine for that matter) are very slim. But I do know about a hundred iHearters read my blog on most days. Maybe some of you will be inspired to find your voice to have a say in what iHeart 2.0 should look like.