Ed wrote this article about doing promotions right for the coming 9th edition of Dr. Michael Keith’s book The Radio Station.
FIND A PARADE AND JOIN
By Ed Shane
Promotion is an extension of your station’s brand experience aimed at your target listener. It gets listeners directly involved with an activity or event that builds audience or enhances the image of your outlet and your advertiser’s business.
As a programmer, I ask one question about any promotion: What are we trying to achieve?
Reduced to the simplest terms, there are three goals:
Cume – building audience
Time Spent Listening – holding onto audience
Image – making the station memorable to the audience
If the station is not trying to achieve at least one of the three, the promotion has no value.
The next question: Who’s the target? The bottom line of any promotion is that it should be in sync with the needs and expectations of the audience. If the promotion doesn’t resonate with your station’s target listener, there’ll be no benefit.
The final question: What’s the desired consumer response? Do we want them to listen? (I hope so. Too many promotions fail in this aspect.)
Note that none of this involves how many Twitter followers a station has collected or how many Facebook friends.
The same questions apply to promotions conducted via new media or social media as apply to old fashioned call-in-to-win promotions or live broadcasts from a retail location.
Twitter is a “news channel” that is perfect for calling attention to a new contest or promotion in an engaging, conversational way. Twitter allows for instant updates on contesting and promotional events.
Facebook is a “conversation channel” which connects with listeners on what appears to be a personal level. It’s also an easy way to get listener feedback on ideas.
No social medium should be used on its own to drive a promotion unless it brings the strategy back to the three basic questions – especially the questions about driving new or extended listenership.
The hazard in concentrating too much on social media is that the station doesn’t own its Facebook friends or its Twitter followers. Facebook does and Twitter does. If they decide to change strategy, they can do what they want with your customers’ information.
Too many stations have used social media as a backstop against declining promotion budgets. Consolidation caused radio companies to reduce expenditures to make clusters more profitable. Often the promotion budget was among the first to disappear.
This was exacerbated by the recession of 2008-2012, as stations further reduced the amounts spent on outreach advertising and on promotional activities alike. Even bumper stickers, once a mainstay of local promotional efforts, were no longer prolific.
In spite of the reductions in budgets, promotion is vital to radio as it connects with its communities.
If there’s no money, find a parade and get in front of it.
Make sure it’s a parade your audience wants to join.
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