July 9, 2013
The reoccurring theme in radio is wearing too many hats and not enough time in a day to wear them all. This e-mail is probably something many of you can relate to.
Question: Sam, since the beginning of the year, too many of our promotional events have not come off very well and I wind up getting all the heat. We just got rid of our night guy and now have a syndicated show on, plus due to budget cuts, I lost my music director. I do not mind a challenge or work, but I am on the air and am now the PD/MD. Things are spinning out of control, we have two direct competitors and I do not need problems with our promotions and marketing our station. Any advice would be welcomed.
Coach: Competition can make you better, paranoid or both to a certain degree. Before I was a PD or an air personality, I was a high school jock in my home town of Kirkwood MO, a suburb of St. Louis. I loved sports and played year round -- baseball, basketball, football, kickball, and just about anything else involving a ball. A former classmate and teammate of mine, Drew Rogers, just wrote a book, "Before the Spotlight," which highlighted our 31-0 high school senior year in basketball and where we were ranked #1 in the state of Missouri.
After reading his book I was reminded of another competition. While playing on the basketball team, I was also selling calendar towels as a fundraiser for a class trip. It escapes me to this day how or why the teacher thought selling calendar towels was a better idea then selling candy. Those towels were not too spiffy as calendars or a towel; I mean really, it might have worked if we had been in grade school, but by high school, the little cute kid thing is over, leaving only begging or convincing buyers how esthetically pleasing a calendar towel would look in their kitchen. Like I mentioned, it was all about a trip for us as a group -- and individually, 1st prize was a $50 U.S Bond.
On my way to an easy first-place finish with 59 towels sold, I came in one morning and noticed on the blackboard someone was closing in on me with a total of 56 sold. My heart started racing and I thought to myself, no way I am losing and over the next four weeks, so I proceeded to sell another 100 for first place and a grand total of 159. Once the contest was over, I found out someone had been fudging the second-place winner totals behind the teacher's back, their total was actually 40. To this, day I cannot tell you how I sold that many calendar towels; I was in a zone! However, my point is this: Had I not believed someone else might overtake me and win, I probably would have been content to sell just enough for victory. Once you are in the lead, keep going or as legendary pitcher Satchel Paige once put it, "Don't look back, something or someone may be gaining on you."
If your radio station or cluster is in a heated battle for market supremacy, executing promotions and special events is extremely important to succeed in a PPM or Diary market. Here are five keys to help you succeed:
Organization: Every aspect from day one has to be organized up until the end of the promotion. If you are confused, the planning and the event itself will be confusing and chaotic. Follow up on all e-mails and paper trails.
Communication: All departments must be made aware of what is going on at all times. Promotions or promotional events can impact the air staff, sales, traffic, the business manager, interns, the website content person, engineering, and the receptionist. Tunnel-vision sometimes causes unintentional slighting of others when it comes to a promotion or event. For example, listeners call the receptionist for information; sales gets clients asking questions; engineering may require time to setup an event; interns will be assigned duties for live events, unexpected circumstances might require the business manager's financial expertise; the website content person will need update information; the air-staff will need instruction for on-air or assignment duties for an event; and traffic may need to be involved on several levels. At your manager meetings cross all the T's and dot the I's at every step. A radio station is like a car engine, everything has to be in sync for it to run.
Delegation: Don't be afraid to assign responsibilities and empower others. You cannot go it alone; just keep tabs on what everyone is doing. Delegating will allow you to focus on all aspects of a promotion or event.
Preparation: Have planning meetings with those you deem necessary to the process of planning. The week of an event or promotion can provide some unexpected situations, good and bad; always be ready to adjust or mediate. If it's a promotional event, have a staff meeting a couple of days prior to double check everything. Try to keep your meetings to 30 minutes or less.
Dedication: This is the final and most important key element because it will require you to not only take care of your daily work load, but to also kick it up an extra gear to stay even keeled and not get frustrated from start to finish of the promotional project. Try to work smart and remember when an on-air promotion or event is over; lavish others with praise and follow up with thank-you memos for their personnel files.
These days with smaller air and office staffs, the five keys become even more important. It is all a matter of working smarter and not harder; it's all in the execution from start to finish.