It's an unprofitable investment when you look at it on a spread sheet at budget time. All the man hours spent setting up events, attending meeting after meeting on the Blues Festival in the park, and bringing in extra people as we broadcast from the local fair for the weekend. While many staffers 'donate' their time and work extra just to help you still need people and people cost money to have around. You can see some stations are fading away in interacting with the community. They have paired down their staffs with air talent on multiple stations, fewer bodies in the building to do all the work it takes to get into all the events and community needs.
You can also visualize the minute by minute Media Monitors PPM rating graphs sinking as you spend another break helping the local hospital raise funds for a children's wing. We've all done huge festivals and participated in events with great local media coverage and opened up the rating book to see 'nothing' in return. Sometimes we seem to do it mostly for 'logo exposure.' Get the banners up, park the van and set up the tent - we're there. Other times we just hope to get a mention on the local TV news - only to be known as 'a local radio station.'
Community IS very important and when you see how stations jump in and really make community events shine that is when you get real value. This is when you build images that really stand out with the audience and make lasting impressions that may not translate into instant ratings or revenue, but they build a long term bond with the audience. We can all think of great local events that became legendary because a radio station united the community around them. We also know that you can't just do one fireworks show or one concert fest a year and expect the audience to be convinced that you are a great neighbor. It would be like just running two great commercials and expecting to fill your store as a client. You need to keep the effort and focus on being involved every month in your community in a visible way.
A couple of tips:
- Use your Air Time Wisely - How many times do we approach an event by just cranking out a liner and telling the air staff to 'yak it up.' The liner is a laundry list of thank you and sponsor plugs and a rambling jock, trying to make this break turn into something. How about setting up a quick theme and building a system of sponsor mentions that doesn't let this turn into a rambling exercise. Also don't put all the promotion eggs in the liner/air staff basket.
- Integrate it - Cover it in the news. Even if you only do a few casts in Mornings cover the event on a regular basis. This IS something going on in the community and part of the news in your community - why not cover it and get that extra mention in Mornings? Also look at covering it in the weather - ahead on the Big Fest Weekend - partly cloudy and in the low 80s - just a slight chance of a shower.
- Set up the Imaging to help: A quick statement at the end of the 'music sweepers' to quickly mention a big event helps, so do doing some advance work when you have artists on the phone, hanging backstage or doing an interview - have them plug the bigger events. With a few minutes with the editor you can tweak the imaging and get those extra mentions in the hour without stretching out the breaks.
- Involve sales - How about a package where you get to be a community sponsor for an event. What the client gets is a tag on the end of their commercial this month for the event. Maybe a bonus or maybe a way to tag on a few extra dollars for the association.
- Use Social Media: Tons of opportunities here to build up the event, spread the word and keep it active without taking up tons of air time. The key is building a social media campaign. You can't just keep running the same 'hey come out and be there' posts 3 times a day. Get creative with pics, video, and build up the special angles available.
- Need volunteers to help: Invite the audience. I bet you'd be surprised at the response as you tapped into the girls basketball team or just brought in some 'volunteers' to be 'roadies for a day'. Don't have a jock to hang out at an event - have a budding audience star jump in. With a little creativity and some coordination you can find ways to stay involved.
As we all take a day for the 4th and many of you head out to host fireworks displays, hang at the state fair, or host that music event in the community stand back and consider the opportunity this event might bring or how you could enhance it. Also take a look at all the events you do in the community. Which ones have potential and which ones are just taking up space. You have to balance quantity and quality to be effective here.
Lastly, thank you local radio for putting in such a big effort for our communities. You've all given up precious days off, time with your families, and put in lots of effort to your communities. Sometimes broadcasters may not get as much credit as you, and the station, deserve.
HAVE A GREAT 4TH WEEKEND.