Expert Columns

What's the next big promotion on your calendar? You've probably got Back to School events listed somewhere close to the top. As you start planning, here are a few ideas that can help you get ready for the new school year.
1) Ask this question: What can we do to become our listeners' number one resource for Back to School? The answer to that might take a good bit of work. That's why it's important to start now. Maybe you take the time to reach out to school principals and administrators to offer your station's services. Post announcements on your social media channels. Dedicate a section of your web site to school resources – calendars, shopping lists and school supply needs.
2) Promote student health and safety: Let's face it, today's students face some unusually tough issues. Cyber-bullying is one of those issues. Immaturity and social media make for a volatile mix. Maybe we can do something to help. Feature some interviews and podcasts with experts who can help parents guide their kids through some rough waters. What other topics can you address?
3) Use your social media channels to get moms connected. Invite your local MOPS group to host a live online chat. Turn your Twitter feed into an encouragement channel – ask parents to share what keeps them going.
4) Talk about nutrition – What recipes or power snacks help students thrive throughout the school year. Bonus points for anything that steers kids way from Monster drinks and Red Bull!
5) Promote clothing exchanges, school supply drives or other events that offer free – or reduced cost – supplies. Mom will love you for showing her ways to save money. Contact churches and community groups who host these types of events and help them with promotions.
You can't do everything. But you can look for ways to show listeners that you care about their kids. Parents – especially moms – will appreciate knowing that you're a on their side as they get started in the coming school year.

You've heard the old saying about advertising: “Sell the sizzle … not the steak.” The best part of any promotion – on air or online – is creating anticipation – the “sizzle.” Anticipation is a key element to every promotion. People want to get excited about a product or an event, and it's your job to keep that level of anticipation going strong throughout the entire promotion.
Here are four simple ideas you can use to get people interested and encourage them to buy into your promotion:
1) Offer a sneak peek. Whether you're promoting an upcoming concert, inviting people to tune in to an interview or purchase a new, exciting offer, do this: get them hooked by giving them a sneak peek into your promotion. It can be as simple as airing a snippet of an interview, linking to a video or posting part of a book chapter online. Give people an advance preview of your promotion.
2) Inside knowledge. People really like knowing what's going on behind the scenes. We want to know something that no one else knows. So offer some “top secret” info about your next promotion. Maybe you're sharing an exclusive interview … or behind-the-scenes photos. Invite people to see “the man behind the curtain. They can't resist.
3) Build some FOMO. What's FOMO? Fear of Missing Out. It's why we have operators standing by right now. Why you have to fund the Kickstarter before midnight. Why the best concert seats cost so much. People don't want to miss the next big thing. Urgency works. Scarcity sells. Does your promotion have something irresistible? Maybe you should add some FOMO to your next event.
4) Give people ownership. Kickstarter is a prime example of ownership in action. We want something … we're promised something … but we have to do something to make it happen. And when we fund the Kickstarter, when we put some “sweat equity” into a product or promoton, we're likely to see it through to the end. This is what makes charity funding events work. But there's a catch: we need to see the payoff. It's not enough to throw time or money at a problem. People like to see results: photos, letters, videos, news reports … they're all an important part of completing the circle of ownership. People are more likely to support your project the next time if you give them tangible proof that their ownership efforts pay off.
Add anticipation – sell the sizzle – in your next promotion. Give people something to look forward and you'll cut through the clutter and capture their attention.

What if a tragedy struck your town? What if your staff had to get information to the public – quickly – to direct listeners away from problem areas?
We pray that it never happens, yet no city is immune from terror attacks, home-grown radicals or just plain-old natural disasters. So take the time to put an emergency communications plan into place. Here are a few suggestions:
1) Start with your staff. Make sure your team has everyone's contact info and knows who to call during a crisis.
2) Designate one key contact person and a back-up. Make sure everyone runs all communications through the key contact so that your entire team stays on message and keeps all communications consistent. Now is not the time to be a wild card. Stay on message.
3) Make community connections before disasters happen. Don't just know the right Twitter feeds to scan … get to know the people behind the feeds: public information officers, local lawmakers, safety officials and religious leaders.
4) Know your audience and the information they need. In a time of crisis, you need to become the expert on the information your audience needs right now.
5) Plan follow-up information. How will you help the community once the incident has passed? What information do your listeners need in order to resume their daily lives?
Plan now so that you can help your team and your community when disaster happens.

Molly McKenna is Director of Brand and PR Engagement for fast-food giant McDonalds. In her role, she's tackled a wide range of problems and promotions – everything from national promotions to backlash about food preparation. But in every situation, she sticks to five simple practices to motivate people to respond to the McDonalds' message, no matter what it may be. Her ideas may help you as you plan your next promotion or fundraising event.
1) Meet people where they are. It's not enough to know who your audience is. You need to know know where they live and hang out – both in-person and online. And then, take your message to where they are.
2) Work into their existing routines. When does your audience check social media? When do they log in to check email? When are they in the car? Work your message – and its timing – into these routines.
3) Make it compelling. Boring campaigns are boring … no matter who plans and promotes them. Boring prizes, boring giveaways and boring benefits don't spur people to take action.
4) No extra steps. Is your message or promotion too complex? Does it require a lot of extra work just to register? No one has the time or patience to jump through all the hoops. Keep your message and calls-to-action simple.
5) Make it functional. Does your promotion have a point? Is it easy to understand? Can your audience take action right away? Or do you need to refine and simplify the message?
You invest time and effort in each message or promotion you put together for your audience. Make sure they know what you are saying, where to find the information and how to put that message into action. Molly McKenna's five steps will help you do just that.

Bill Arbuckle is a media and marketing pro with over twenty-five years experience in creating media promotions.  You can connect with him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The sign is forever etched in my memory. It hung in the window of our main studio – right in our field of vision. You couldn't flip on the microphone without seeing it: “Be sure your brain is in gear before engaging your mouth.”  
That might be good advice for all of us who work on air … and post on social media.
Social media is a powerful tool. It is today what radio, TV and newsprint were when they were introduced. As it grows, we're learning more about the positives and negatives of social media – especially when it comes to our jobs.
Something we've been talking about behind the scenes here at CMW is how social media can help or hurt your career. Can your social media posts affect your chances of getting a job … and on the flip side, can you be fired for social media posts.
First, a disclaimer: this should not be construed as legal advice.
Secondly, as fellow Christian communicators, we want to challenge you to honor Christ with your words – both on air and online.
With that said, here are some tips to help you remember to “Be sure your brain is in gear” before engaging your mouth or fingers.
Can you be fired for something you've posted online? Yes. Your employer can fire you for posts that disparage the company or go against established standards. The one type of post that gets more people in trouble than any others? Political posts. While politics has always been a spectator sport in America, social media has given everyone a megaphone to spread their views – for good or ill. And in today's culture, political rhetoric can cause lasting damage to an organization's image and finances. Whether you realize it – or intend it – your words represent your organization. You – as an employee – are a walking, talking billboard for your company. While your employer can't tell you what to think, they can – and should – take action if your words disparage or damage the organization.
Can an employer choose not to hire you based on a social media post? This one is a little tricky. Company recruiters are careful not to use social media to discriminate. However, social media is public. And in most cases, you are the one who posted your images, memes and words. Some social media outlets – Facebook, for example – allow you to restrict who can and can't see your posts, but online your reputation follows you. While your post captures the spotlight for a short time (See last week's article, “How Long Does a Tweet Last?”), those posts are archived and available online for a long, long time. A simple Google search will show you exactly what future employees can see. If you have a reputation as a provocateur or trouble maker, don't be surprised if you find few open doors. Especially in the media or communications industries. What you are is what you bring to the job. Employers want people who benefit the organization
How do you protect your career and your online reputation? Common sense goes a long way. And social media is just another form of communication – the same thing you and I have been doing for a long time. With that said, here are a couple of ideas:
1) Treat social media like an open microphone. Anything you say can – and will – be heard.
2) Use the “Grandma Rule” - Would you say or show this post to your grandma? If not, then maybe it's not the best thing to share with social media audiences.
3) Use Scripture as a guide. No, it's not being preachy. We're Christian communicators, so we should use God's Word as a guide for our words. Philippians 4:8 offers a good checklist: “...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”
Our words, whether spoken or written, carry weight and have consequences. Use your words wisely and “Make sure your brain is in gear before engaging your mouth … or your fingers.”

Bill Arbuckle

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