Expert Columns

Google has released its Top 10 searches for 2014. In the past year, Americans searched for information about:
1) Robin Williams
2) World Cup
3) Ebola
4) Malaysia Airlines
5) Flappy Bird
6) ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
7) ISIS
8) Ferguson
9) Frozen
10) Ukraine
Pretty heavy stuff. (Except for Flappy Bird and Frozen) And the national conversation – at least about Ferguson and the similar issue in New York – is buzzing with some significant questions: How do we deal with race issues? Does Justice still wear a blindfold...or does the court of public opinion encourage her to peek at the accused and the accusers before making a decision? Add to that the international struggles: ISIS, a saber-rattling Russia, Syria, and the Ebola crisis.
How do we address these issues?
And why talk about them during Christmas?
Because Christmas is God's answer to all of these struggles. It's the simple statement that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son.” This week we celebrate God's gift of Jesus. We celebrate with songs, with presents, with candles and lights. And let's also celebrate by remembering that God gave us the gift of a child, a son. The Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. He is full of Grace and Truth. Justice and Mercy. He is wise enough to answer the questions of a hundred Fergusons. Strong enough to still a thousand ISIS armies. Yet gracious enough to live among us and offer us life to the fullest. So bring on your top ten lists. The answer to each question, to every crisis is: Unto us a Savior is born. And He will reign forever and ever. That truly is Good News.
Merry Christmas to you, your families, and your team!

Less than two weeks until Christmas! Where did the time go? Hey, I know you're on the move, so here's something encouraging to think about as you wrap up the final holiday promotions.
Lifeway Research published a report titled, “New Research: Americans Want to Keep Christ in Christmas.” Here are some interesting results:
• 79% of Americans surveyed agree that Christmas should be more about Christ.
• 63% think Christmas activities should include a visit to a church service
• 70% think Christmas would be better with a Christian focus
• 56% say God's son existed before Jesus was born in Bethlehem
• 86% of those surveyed that kids in public schools should be allowed to sing religious Chrismas songs in school-sponsored musicals
Good news often goes unreported, so this is worth talking about. I hope you're encouraged to continue working in your community, playing Christmas music, and talking about the Reason for the season. People notice!
(New Research: Americans Want to Keep Christ in Christmas. Lifeway Research, 12/10/14)

You’re up to your eyeballs in Christmas projects and time is limited, so this week, here are three last-minute thoughts/reminders to help your this holiday season:
1) Get stuff in the mail by December 10. Whether it’s Christmas cards, gifts, direct mail pieces, or year-end giving requests, get them in the mail by December 10. That date gives your mailing two weeks to arrive.
2) Don’t Let Year-End Giving Get Lost in the Shuffle. There is a lot happening with Christmas promotions, but don’t forget to mention year-end giving in the next couple of weeks. For non-coms, year-end giving is one of the most important funding events of the year…so make sure it gets priority.
3) Take Time Out to Enjoy the Holiday. I’m guilty of not taking the time to reflect on and celebrate Christmas. I’m guilty of getting caught up in projects and not giving my family the time they crave and deserve. So this year, take time to celebrate Christmas with your family. The projects will always be there. Don’t let them rob you and your family of the wonder of Christ’s birth.
May God richly bless you, your family, and your station this Christmas!

Christmas is a great holiday, but you’ve got to admit, sometimes it’s tough to come up with fresh content ideas. If you’re looking for something different to talk about or post online, here are four ideas to try:
1) Deck the Halls. Everybody knows where the best Christmas light displays are to be found. (Although it’s never a bad idea to remind listeners where to find them.) But do your listeners know about the other displays? You know…the ones that look like they came from the National Lampoon Christmas movie. Of course, we’re not out to insult people, but there are some displays in town that are different…outrageous…and epic. And there are people who would be proud to show them off. Why not invite those people to tell you why they string ten thousand lights around their house and blind the entire neighborhood. If your format allows, have some fun telling listeners where to find those unusual displays.
2) Ugly Sweaters. Radio isn’t just about audio any more. You’ve got some great online channels where listeners can post photos of their ugliest sweaters. And you can invite them to call in and share the story behind the sweater. Drive listeners to those online photos, and ask them to like the ugliest sweater. Announce the winner on the air. Use this type of promotion to tie in your social media outlets…and drive some laughs and light-hearted fun.
3) A Very Selfie Christmas. Give your listeners a face…or at least let them show off their smiles! Ask listeners to share some of their holiday selfies on your social media sites and post a Christmas greeting to go along with the picture. Encourage listeners to take photos in front of local Christmas displays. Bonus points if they include your station logo with their photo!
4) Homemade Gifts. Great mom topic. Ask listeners to share some of their favorite homemade gift ideas. What are some simple, easy, yet meaningful gifts that moms can make? Ask for hints and tips. Open your social sites so that listeners can share photos and instructions.
The goal behind these promotions – and I’m sure all of the ones you’re already doing – is to create a community and connection among your listeners. Christmas is a great time to start conversations with your audience that can last all year long. Use these ideas to position your station as not just family friendly, but family-centric. And of course, remind listeners about the real Reason for Christmas!


Happy Thanksgiving! Hope that your Thanksgiving Day is a great one this year!
Here's something interesting that I found this past week and wanted to pass on to your promotions and on-air team. The latest stats from Pinterest show that the social sharing site is picking up steam with men.  According to the company, more guys now use Pinterest than read Sports Illustrated and GQ.
I know that a lot of stations use Pinterest to share Scriptures and encouragement. And a lot of times, posts are designed for women, so it makes sense to post stuff for Becky (or whatever your target listener's name is)...but now it appears that Becky's husband has joined the crowd and is using Pinterest as well.
So my suggestion is this: Keep posting for Becky. She's still your primary listener. But develop some posts that she can share with her husband. Maybe from time to time you can post a powerful parenting/fatherhood quote. Maybe an activity that dad can do with his kids. Maybe you've used a great bit of show prep on the air and want to turn it into a social media share. Go for it. Becky will appreciate that you're thinking of her family, and when she shares it, other people will hear about your station.
Viral sharing...viral promotions. You can't lose when you keep the whole family in mind as you build content and promotions.

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