(NEGOTIATING) Negotiation Is Perspective
I love the art of negotiation. I love finding a common ground whereby both sides have the opportunity to come out on top and the potential exists for a win/win. But I am astonished at how many deals today fall apart. And once you hear the stories afterwards, and apply the simple solutions which could have saved the deal, one is left shaking their head. Business is perspective, and if neither side is able or willing to grasp the perspective of the other, nothing can be accomplished.
Both talent and station management have the potential to fail equally in this endeavor. I chuckled when, a few years ago, I heard that a talent had rejected an offer because it was lower than the they had anticipated and that they had a “lifestyle” to maintain. Huh? What lifestyle? I had a lifestyle too before I had children and serious bills to pay and college to save for. That was years ago, and for even the youngest of you in the midst of this type of lifestyle, this too shall change.
Now I have a lifestyle alright, it’s called Responsibility. Responsibility for my young children and their present and future needs; mortgage payments, car payments, clothes, food, life insurance, health insurance, etc. In other words, responsibility to stay employed at the best company for my skill-set.
And as such, talent has a responsibility to maintain a realistic viewpoint of what is attainable. I have visited many broadcast facilities and companies, and have yet to see a money tree growing out back.
I cringe when I hear that station management asks talent to take a pay cut; that they should expect to make less because revenues are down “X” percent. Okay, but the talent, particularly on-air talent who dictate serious revenue for a station, are not (in most cases) working any less. More often than not they are working harder than ever. They do not control the market economy; they only control what is within their grasp. Like talent, station management has a Responsibility to keep the best talent on-air, for their advertisers, their listeners, their group owners, and shareholders.
And like talent, station management has a responsibility to maintain a realistic viewpoint of what is acceptable. I have visited many broadcast facilities and companies, and have yet to see a talent tree growing out back.
This assumes that the station and the talent want to consummate a deal. If they do, talent has to be realistic aboutthe economy today, and management has to be realistic about giving the talent the opportunity to get back to where they were when times were better, and to surpass that level when warranted. This is accomplished through incentives. If the base compensation must remain the same as before, or decrease in a new deal, is there a built-in opportunity, through incentives, for the talent to achieve growth? Where do the ratings and revenue need to be for the station to justify paying the talent at the level they were before, and is there an opportunity to grow beyond that watermark? This permits the talent to win only if the station wins. Stations can’t expect the talent to cut back when times are bad, but not reciprocate when times are good.
With an open mind and some mathematical calculation, this can be achieved. Based on the Cost-Per-Point and overall available revenue in the market, where do the ratings for a particular show need to be to achieve the necessary revenue growth to justify acceptable compensation to the talent? What revenue level is required of that show to validate a return to the higher dollars they received during the last term? Furthermore, is there a mechanism in the proposed deal that allows for talent to exceed those levels? It is helpful to educate the talent as to the economic realities of the station and the marketplace, and to discuss where the station needs to be to achieve the success that then permits the company to offer greater dollars. Most talent wants to be informed, they want to be involved, and they want to help.
If the two sides creatively work together to re-build the business, a win/win can be achieved. But first understand the perspective of the other, and understand that in a winning scenario everyone should see a clear path to greater success.
Matt Miller is the Vice President of Miller Broadcast Management, Inc. Email him at email@example.com
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