We see now why conventions matter

In the News Social & Digital

For the past couple of years, the pandemic has forced many of our interpersonal activities onto platforms like Zoom or Teams. While these platforms existed prior to the pandemic, they definitely allowed us to keep in touch with clients, family, and colleagues after March 2020. Once again, digital came to the rescue and made our lives easier.

Conventions adjusted as well. We were able to meet virtually, and more enhanced platforms like Remo enabled us to not only view a presentation collectively, but allowed us to “sit” at virtual tables and converse with others seated there. At a time when many of us were locked in our basements, these connections were important.

So, while my job is to represent how great digital is to WBA stations, I’m here to suggest that it’s time to recognize its limitations, and to talk “analog” for a few minutes. In other words, it’s time to set digital solutions aside and replace them with human solutions.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve attended several conferences as a speaker and as an attendee, and I have to tell you, there’s nothing better than engaging with people in person. There’s no comparison in actually seeing colleagues in the flesh versus “seeing” them on my laptop. I didn’t realize how much I missed being able to have a free-wheeling conversation with someone over a cup of coffee. Or bumping into someone I didn’t expect to see. Or meeting someone new. None of that happens on Zoom.

It’s also refreshing to attend a session in person. We’ve all sat through countless Zoom webinars, wondering how we can check email or text without being caught, or having our dogs bark or a child interrupt at an inopportune time. But when you are in-person, all your attention is on the people at the front of the room. It’s a communal experience – you can sense the audience’s reaction (good and bad) and pick up on nuances that are missed online. And after the session, instead of signing off to check email, I was able to hang around with colleagues, discussing what was just presented. Or I can walk up to the front of the room and ask the speaker directly. It’s a much richer experience.

So, while I think digital is great and can solve so many problems for us and make our lives easier, it’s time to respect digital’s limitations. From your station’s perspective, it’s time to get out in public and engage with the audience. If your station is into events, gear that machine back up and get outside. We know the audience wants to engage. This is the time to create opportunities that are not only good for station branding, but also for revenue.

And from the conference perspective, go to a conference or two this year. I attended NAB in Las Vegas, but if you couldn’t make that, go to the WBA Summer Conference or other event. Get out and rub elbows with your fellow broadcasters. Our industry has changed during the pandemic. The best way to truly hear “war stories” and learn best practices is to get out of the office and come together.

And if I see you there, I’ll buy you a beer, or at least give you a hug, neither of which you can do over Zoom.