Sometimes it feels like the media is obsessed with new technologies, platforms and thinking about the future.
We need to do this, there’s no doubting its importance, but I wonder if we’re becoming guilty of overlooking the content side of things.
After all, it doesn’t matter if you’re in print, broadcasting, sharing links or Audioboos on social media or making something available as a podcast..if the content is rubbish, no-one’s going to want it.
The other side of the coin is that if the content is strong, it can be spread across all those different platforms, have a bigger impact and ultimately make more money.
One man who fully understands this is Ryan Seacrest.
He’s known around the world as the unflappable host of “American Idol” but to me, he’s the best example of how to make great content work in this new digital world.
Seacrest studied journalism and got his start in radio and I’m a big admirer.
That programme gives him access to some of the biggest names in showbiz. So when tabloids run a story about Britney Spears’ love life its Seacrest’s programme she calls to clear up the rumours.
His great skill lies in knowing what his audience wants and not getting in the way of it. You’ll see it on “Idol” where he describes his own role as that of a “traffic cop” gently guiding the audience and the contestants through the show. Keeping everyone moving, but never overshadowing what’s going on.
It’s the same with his radio programme. Listen to it and you might ask “What did Ryan Seacrest actually do in that programme?” But take him away and there’d be a gaping void.
I know this seems like a strange compliment but the place he occupies when he’s on air is similar to the role Kermit The Frog plays on The Muppet Show.
He’s not particularly funny, doesn’t reveal much about himself, doesn’t have “an act” of his own but represents the “everyman” keeping the viewer engaged and guiding them through all the sleaze, scandal and turmoil of another day in showbiz central.
And like the best journalists, when he gets a nugget of great content, Seacrest absolutely maximises its worth.
He recognised years ago that the 4 hours of content he generates on air every day had a value beyond Kiss FM Los Angeles.
A producer sits listening to his programme and takes clips of the best material. References to time, place and the music and adverts are cut out and the content is re-packaged into a syndicated programme available to radio stations all over the world.
This week, Real Radio in Scotland (and its sister stations throughout the UK) joined in and now broadcast Seacrest’s programme from 11pm-1am weeknights.
It’s a great listen and the programme team at Real Radio are able to insert their own choice of music, Seacrest provides a few specific mentions for “our listeners inScotland” and the Scottish audience gets access to a presenter they know from television and the unique content he’s able to provide.
Seacrest gets millions from the worldwide syndication and his content continues making money long after he’s left the radio studio.
He then takes that same content and sprinkles it across social media and his own website while simultaneously promoting the Bing search engine AND the following day’s radio programme.
And he’s smart. While almost every other radio presenter in the world wears giant “ear defender” headphones during their programme, Seacrest prefers tiny in-ear iPhone style models so his team can film segments for his You Tube channel without him looking ridiculous.
Seacrest works hard, but his content works harder. And without understanding how to harness it he’d never have enjoyed so much success.
What can we learn from this? It’s about figuring out what we’re best at and giving it 100%, giving it a life cycle beyond the initial broadcast, publication or sale.
The lessons apply to every business but require discipline, creative thinking and a firm focus on what you do that actually generates value, rather than what you’d like to do or what you think you should.
Consider how you can make the most of what you’ve got and go for it. As Seacrest says himself on his Twitter page – “The day will happen whether or not you get up”.