Radio promotions can boost your brand awareness, weekly reach and market share. Don’t have unlimited budgets for major promotions? No problem. Be creative!
In today’s economy, you might have to promote your radio station without big concerts and huge giveaways. Program directors from Germany and Austria shared some ‘priceless PR’ concepts during the Lokalrundfunktage 2012. Check out these cases (from both smaller and larger markets) as additional inspiration for your own radio promotions:
“When the idea is right,
you don’t even have to plan that much”
Go for massive reach
Die Größte Radiowette Aller Zeiten (The Greatest Radio Bet Of All Time) is a concept of Radio Mainwelle, a local station in Germany. Their mission: create a minimum budget promotion with maximum community impact, and reach people who didn’t know (or didn’t listen to) Mainwelle until now. Program Director Bernd Rasse explains their idea to send 500 citizens on a holiday. “It’s usually impossible for local stations without a budget – and when they do it, they let listeners call in to motivate why they should win the vacation, and within one day the promotion is over.” Radio Mainwelle did something completely different.
Mobilize sponsors and listeners
The station decided to take on a challenge that people talk about. They called the local tourist office and made a bet with its director. He agreed that if Radio Mainwelle could gather 500 listeners for a one-day long-distance walk in the mountains of Tirol, in Austria, their agency would sponsor an all-inclusive weekend for every participant in a hotel at the destination. And a local tour operator offered to sponsor the bus trip between Bavaria and Tirol.
Schedule a publicity timeline
After the bet was made, the station wanted to take time to promote the event on-air and off-air, including social media and all kinds of complementing mini promotions. Two months out, they did a remote broadcast for half a day, live from Tirol. 21.000 people called in that day alone, 3.000 actively registered. “For a station of our size it was unbelievable; overwhelming; a huge success”, Rasse says enthusiastically. In July, they went to Tirol with 500 winners and 100 others who arranged a ticket themselves. The little German community station even made the opening page of a national newspaper in Austria.
Create a snowball effect
Bernd Rasse (photo) experienced that creative promotions soon start to live their own life. “When the idea is right, you don’t even have to plan that much.” Once the promotion got going, they were able to let listener calls, website traffic and sponsor interest grow naturally. The PD sees mass-appeal promotions as useful tools to get a feeling for who your listeners are, and obviously to boost the station’s total audience reach.
Generate new sales leads
“It’s good to have a promotion that not only appeals to your core listeners, but also reaches new people. After this promotion, I really had the feeling that I was approached on the street by many people that didn’t had any connection with Radio Mainwelle before.” They also had been able to come up with a promotion that awakens the interest of possible new sponsors. “We’ve made a huge amount of money; it was really good.” According to Rasse, his station made “several ten thousands” of Euros. “But we also would have done it if we didn’t made this money, just to pull off a stunt. It was a lot of fun.” Radio Mainwelle built a dedicated audiovisual archive page for Die Größte Radiowette Aller Zeiten.
“Listening to it is the price”
Offer listeners a stage
Martin Liss is Group Program Director for ENERGY (CHR) in Germany, partly a subsidiary and partly a franchise of NRJ France. The German operation has currently 8 editions which include Berlin and Munich. “In every market in which we operate, competitors already give away money, holidays and cars”, he says. ENERGY decided to try promotions based on storytelling and introduce their audience to interesting characters. “Listening to it is the price; the fun is in the stories that participants share.” In order to have compelling story lines, they are casting unusual people and interesting personalities.
Involve your morning show
Friseuse Sucht Freund (Hairdresser Looking For Boyfriend) was a promotion where ENERGY-listeners could win a date with a pretty hairdresser – usually one with a rather unconventional background. Every day during the morning show, listeners could hear another detail out of her personal life. “Online we had a lot of response and focus groups showed us that it had grip, but it didn’t lead to measurable ratings results”, Liss admits.
Look for exceptional stories
Another radio promotion was Malte Schläft Mit München (Malte Sleeps With Munich). Its purpose was to launch the station’s new morning show anchor Malte Seidel. “We wanted to tell interesting stories that make radio listeners turn up the volume, and be seen as an alternative for all the big stations”, says Martin Liss (Germany is more an AC / Hot AC, instead of a CHR oriented market). While talking about the popularity of couch surfing, they figured that they could let their morning man do just that. So Malte spent the night in the home of unusual personalities with non-typical lifestyles and stories. One of them was a porn actress who confessed that she sometimes watches her own movies while she’s ironing her clothes…
Involve your radio audience
“People contacted us and said: ‘He’s welcome to stay here, I have a nice home, too. We can watch TV together, and I’ll also cook dinner’. It was very positive in terms of audience response”, Liss recalls. In the morning show they would do phone-ins around spin-off topics, based on every candidate’s story. When they featured Mia Magma, the question for the audience was: what have you done in your life that you haven’t confessed to anyone yet?
Include emotion, excitement & interactivity
A third promotion was iPhone Oder Ei (iPhone Or Egg). ENERGY wants to make giveaway contests original by adding emotion, excitement and interactivity. The concept is simple: two identical looking boxes. In one box an egg, in one an iPhone. And then demolishing one box with a sledgehammer! 10.000 listeners signed up as candidates. The critics called destroying goods a ‘scandal’, which created additional publicity. The phone was protected, of course – and whenever a device would crack anyway, the station would donate its value in money to a charity.
“You can’t do it without Facebook anymore”
Promote your morning show
Program Director Dirk Klee of ANTENNE VORARLBERG in Austria had a similar challenge as ENERGY Munich – to introduce a new, unknown morning personality to the audience. The station’s morning host was dropped without any money, food or drinks for a 5-day survival during which he had to walk 100 kilometers (62 miles). In the two weeks before Stubi’s Abenteuer Vorarlberg (Stubi’s Vorarlberg Adventure) kicked off, the morning show became a ‘training camp’ for the host. Climbing, rafting, fitness and more stuff like this got him pumped up for the action every day, while building up the promotion as well.
Post multimedia content online
Klee recalls a lot of audience response: “A local sports team invited Stubi for a breakfast before the drop. At six o’clock on Monday morning, he sat on a table with a football team.” The station wanted to enhance the radio promotion online through audio, video, images and blogs. Stubi produced much of it himself during his trip, as he was able to post updates directly to the station’s website. And he called in for live reports on the air every couple of hours.
Let personalities meet listeners
“Listeners called, emailed and wrote on our Facebook page to invite him to stay at their home. Farmers offered him a barn to sleep on a straw bed, hotels donated him a room. Nothing was organized; it was all spontaneous”, Dirk Klee assures. People on the street recognized the presenter, as his outfit was branded with the station logo. He talked with many citizens of the area. “That was the goal; make the morning host tangible and bring him to every town in Vorarlberg.” Social media seem to be essential for promotions like these: “It’s a fact that you can’t do it without Facebook anymore”, Kless says, while adding that it’s a marketing instrument. “It will not replace radio.”
Include social media platforms
Martin Liss (photo) quotes an American study, showing that 50% of a radio brand’s P1 listeners never visited its site, while 80% of this core audience has visited the station’s Facebook page over the last 7 days. “Even if this can’t be applied 1:1 to every market and format, I believe it shows in which direction we’re going.” He concludes that even if one may question the “data policy” of Facebook, radio listeners are there. “It would be ignorant to stay away from it.”
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