November 25, 2015

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05/07/07 Anticipating The Worst Can Be The Best Strategy
My staff will tell you that Iím always exploring ďwhat ifĒ scenarios. Though Iím sometimes accused of focusing on the downside, itís good business to expect the best and anticipate the worst. This can help you prevent mistakes, and be on your toes should catastrophe strike.

I adopted this mindset many years ago after the accidental death of an employee. I had never anticipated such a traumatic scenario, and was unprepared when it hit. Had I properly planned in advance for such an event, my response would have been more appropriate. Instead, my instant reactions lacked proper judgment, and resulted in several consequences that hurt my business. Most of those consequences could have been prevented.

The recent Imus incident is a good reminder that calamity can strike at your radio station in an instant. Though you cannot anticipate the precise moment when a personality might make an inappropriate remark, you can anticipate how you will react to it, and be ready with a plan of action. The entire Imus event was mishandled by Imus, CBS, and MSNBC; had they anticipated this kind of occurrence, the outcome could have been better. (Though Iím not sure anyone could have anticipated this specific incident.)

When you review nightmares that others have endured, itís important to ask yourself how you might have managed the same situation.

Your building caught fire, and there was no time to get anything out?
Are your records duplicated? Is there a back-up of accounts receivable, accounts payable, bank records, past financials, codes and passwords, insurance records, etc?

You lost your all of your salespeople in one day? Sound farfetched? It happened to me. I lost the entire FM and AM sales staff and sales managers in one day (this was related to the shock of the accidental death incident). How would you keep your business afloat until you could hire, train, and prepare a new staff? Who would you call to help get you through it? Where would you find new sellers? My mentors taught me to have several potential hires in the pipeline, just in case.

You lost your entire air staff at one time? In my case, the entire AM staff left due to the death of an employee. I was fortunate to have an FM staff to cover double shifts.

Rather than avoiding or delaying these discussions, ask yourself and your executives to anticipate potential negative events, and strategize how to react. The sales managers should develop strategies for how to handle the loss of salespeople, loss of accounts, and loss of signal for long periods of time. I once worked for a station that could not broadcast for two full weeks. We managed to save every client.

Programmers should anticipate loss of signal, loss of staff, and inappropriate on-air comments from talent or callers. What if clients, the media, or listeners demanded termination of one of your top air talents? What reaction would you have?

The Radio Ink offices are in a hurricane zone, so weíve learned to back everything up in case of a long power outage. During one storm evacuation, we were forced to produce the entire magazine on a laptop while riding the Amtrak Auto Train. But the point is, we were prepared.

What about you? Are you prepared for the worst? Itís not fun to imagine worst-case scenarios, but thinking negatively can offer a positive benefit to your business.

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