As RBR-TVBR continued our interview with Entercom Regional VP Weezie Kramer, the new Chair of the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), the conversation turned to sales training and building membership.
Is the training now mostly being done online, we asked? You still have the facility in Dallas.
“You know what has happened is, as you’re aware, people were not spending as much money sending people to a classroom, paying for the airfare, paying for the hotel so that still exists and is still used, but not with as much frequency as the meetings that are done online. There’s still travel to the markets, in fact some Entercom has had folks from the RAB come in and speak to large advertiser bases, so there is some travel – it’s just less than what it was,” Kramer said. “As the business continues to come back and revenues from the stations to the RAB start to pick up, then those are the type of things that, if necessary, if the demand’s there, the travel would increase,” she added.
You mentioned the membership. Has it bottomed out as far as finding where the low point is and starting to come back?
“Yes it is. Ron Ruth and his team, I think, have done an unbelievable job. I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but you’d be probably really impressed if you took a look and saw they’ve maintained the membership and I think you’re going to start to see some people that we had attrition with are going to probably start coming back as their business comes back. First quarter’s fantastic across the country – and as revenue grows and people can see sequential quarterly growth, as we anticipate in 2010, then I think the wallets get a little looser,” she said.
We noted that RAB had introduced an individual membership during the recession for radio professionals willing to spend their own money, when their employer wouldn’t, for access to RAB’s sales resources.
“Yes, that was a good idea that has gotten a small amount of members, not a huge amount of members but it’s one of those things you thought, ‘hey this might really work.’ Obviously those people are super-committed, but it hasn’t been like a runaway success I wouldn’t say. I would consider a huge success the conference calls; the folks who’ve done the digital certification – those types of things I think have been very, very successful.
So much of the industry as far as revenue is focused in the big five groups, so RBR-TVBR asked if all five of those groups still dues paying active members and supporting the RAB.
“Yes,” Kramer assured us.
Then she had some thoughts on what RAB is doing to make sure it is serving its membership.
“I think one of the things we want to make sure is everybody feels that they are getting value for what they’re investing. Part of that is tied into the communication and outreach back to all of the members. I think that we’re going to work hard this year to improve that, to perhaps broaden the board and broaden our outreach One of the things that we’re going to be announcing here in the not too distant future is going to be sort of CEO Roundtable Luncheons with advertisers in three key markets. I think things like that that we can do to get everybody engaged. We’ve been doing conference calls with the executive committee and are going to expand that to a broader group on a quarterly basis so the people can see what’s happening. We’re going to do some surveying of our membership and benchmark where we are so that we can measure at the end of the year on how we’re improving. There are some various things we’re going to take a hard look at and say, hey, how do we make sure that the product that we’re delivering to our market is up to their expectation? Kramer said of the effort to make sure that RAB remains relevant to the industry.
More to come.