by Tracy Johnson
The world moves fast and your audience has high expectations. That alone should be enough to reconsider how the station brand is promoted. Every element is an opportunity to entertain, position and inspire action. But most stations keep running out the same old audio. That needs to change. We need promos with content.
This is important! Imaging promos that simply repeat the station position or yell at listeners with hype fall on deaf ears. Do you think that saying “We play today’s best music” 14 times an hour causes reaction? Does building a promo around “Keep listen for your next chance to qualify for our trip” truly drive tune in?
I don’t think so. It’s a waste of time. And you can’t afford to waste a moment.
So how can you get more out of those commercials for your station or show?
Here are four ways to fire up promos with content.
Get rid of all claims built around positioning. Yes, positioning is important, and I want you to position your station, show or personality. But we’ll deal with that later (point #4).
Promos built around positioning end up being generic. They don’t inspire action. And they don’t cut through when thousands of messages compete for limited attention.
What is a generic promo? Here are a couple of examples:
Peppy and Zippy, with the most fun in the morning. Miss a day, miss a lot. Weekday mornings from 6-10 on (station).
Did you hear Peppy and Zippy this morning? If you missed it, you missed this (out-of-context clip that doesn’t make sense unless you heard it). Peppy and Zippy in the morning, with the most laughs and (city’s) best music on (station). Home of the All-Request Workday.
This promo copy may be good positioning messages, but will not inspire a reaction. None at all.
Instead, find a way to insert content into the promo and provide a specific time to listen.
Listener Nicole has a problem and needs your help. Her boyfriend was away for two months, and now he’s back. Should she tell him about her affair while he was gone? Or ignore it and hope he never finds out. Your calls and Nicole’s decision tomorrow morning at 7:40 with Peppy & Zippy on (station).
This promo delivers far more benefits because it demonstrates what Peppy & Zippy actually do. And, there is a chance to win some quarter hours for tomorrow morning.
With a little preparation, it’s easy to craft messaging that direct listeners to tune-in moments.
Most promos try to do too much. We want to give all the details about the upcoming concert. Or provide instructions on exactly how the contest works.
Long lists fall on deaf ears. The audience doesn’t have the ability to get your message. They get confused and stop paying attention.
Those details may (or may not) be important. But you can’t communicate nuances of a campaign in one promo. So don’t try.
Instead, create a series of messages, with each focused on a specific aspect of the promotion. Add a call-to-action and you’ve got it!
Mix 100.3’s $10,000 Secret Sound is on. What is this sound? (play sound). Think you know? It’s worth Ten Grand. Listen to win at 11:15…and get the details at www.MixSecretSound.com.
Playing Mix 100.3’s $10,000 Secret Sound? And it’s driving you crazy? Here’s a tip…check out all the incorrect guesses so far at www.MixSecretSound.com. Then listen for your chance to win $10,000 at 3:15.
See what these promos do?
In the first, all that matters is getting the listener to the next tune-in occasion. This is much more powerful than a list of all the times to listen. For those that want more, there’s a way to get it.
In the second promo, the focus is on getting more participation through the station’s website.
Side note: Stations should get more unique url’s for promotions. It sounds bigger and is easier for the audience to remember. You can always redirect it to a landing page on the station website.
In writing promos with content, think about:
The next time to listen.
A specific content-based reason to tune in.
This applies to promos outside a personality show, and inside the program. Here’s another example:
This happened on Ellen’s show yesterday (play audio). What was she doing to Tom Hanks? And the behind-the-scenes firestorm that started. Zippy has the inside scoop in 12 minutes on Hollywood 360.
Following this advice takes time and resources. And that’s in short supply at most stations. Don’t get frustrated that the production department can’t handle that many promos. You don’t want them spending their time on repetitive promos anyway. They should be creating new concepts.
Take matters into your own hands.
Have the production god create production parts or shells. You can write, voice and produce the promos yourself. You may even be able to produce it on your home computer and bring it in the next day, email it or insert it directly into the system.
Once you’re creating promos with content, make sure they do what you want them to. They only work if they’re actually heard!
Invest time in figuring out where specific promos should air to be most effective. Then develop a system to manage the promos. Some stations set up a rotator cut with a series of promos that run at random times. This is easy to manage, of course. But you have limited control the specific promos.
Instead, create multiple rotators, each airing at specific times. Then populate the rotator with promos designed to run only in that position. It’s a lot more work in the beginning, but once it’s set up, it’s just as easy to manage. And it sounds great.
Here’s an example of how it might work for a contest with multiple tune in times:
Rotator 1: Runs at 10:20. Content: Directs listeners to tune-in to win at 11am. Promo targets just this one tune in.
Rotator 2: Runs at 10:50 into spots: Content might be: You’re less than 10 minutes away from winning $10,000.
Rotator 3: Runs at 11:20: This resets the promo and references the 11am game: Do you know the $10,000 Secret Sound? No winner at 11. Direct tune in to 2pm.
Then, include several versions of the message in each rotator and update them regularly. It’ll sound immediate, urgent and great.
Promos are essential to forward momentum on stations. And, promos can direct the audience to increase listening occasions.
But generic promos don’t work. Specific promos do.
Content wins. Audiences won’t tolerate less. And content is promotable if you produce promos with content.
You may wonder how to position brand values in promos with content. No problem. It is folded into the messages in a natural way.
Most promos are about your station, with a message of listener benefits added on. Turn that around. Build the promo about the benefit, and tag station values to an active message.
Your next step? Audit your station. Get rid of everything you don’t need and replace it with content-based messages that inspire action. And have fun doing it!
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