Expert Columns

The next couple of months are going to be a blur of activity. Families are rushing to get everything from Halloween treats to turkey dinners and Christmas presents. Your staff is likely working on some major projects...and there's a lot to be done. So while you're making plans, make sure to start thinking about your year-end giving campaign.
Whether you're a non-com raising funds for the coming year or a commercial station helping a non-profit agency, here are three things to consider while putting your plans together:
1) Have a simple, straightforward message that can be communicated quickly and easily. If you're raising operating funds, let your listeners know how much you're raising and what it will be used for. Explain the need in simple language - “We need to raise X dollars for first quarter operating costs” or “We're raising X dollars so that this non-profit can provide meals to 1,000 people in January.” Keep the message simple. If you need to give further details, build a section on your station web site and direct people to that location.
2) Communicate early and often. The holidays are the busiest time of the year. Families are over-committed. Do them (and yourself) a favor by telling them about your campaign before the holidays start. Early-to-mid November is not too soon to start a year-end giving campaign. Encourage families to give before the holiday season begins. Many groups don't begin their year-end campaigns until December, so you can get a two week jump on your campaign...and beat the rush.
3) Don't be afraid to ask. I struggled for years with the idea of asking donors for funds. It felt like begging. But I came to realize that fundraising is a legitimate part of non-profit ministry. Why? Because it gives people the opportunity to participate in our ministry efforts. Not everyone has the skills to run an air shift...but they want to help in your mission. Not everyone can produce life-changing programs...but they're eager to give others the chance to hear them. Fundraising is an opportunity to invite listeners to become an active partner in your ministry. So don't be afraid to ask for support.
There's much more to year-end giving, so next week, we'll talk about timelines and messaging. See you then!

Bill Arbuckle

Bill Arbuckle is a 25 year media veteran with a passion for helping radio stations tell their stories and strengthen their local brands.

Hard to believe, but it's already October. That means you're putting the final touches on your holiday plans and gearing up for all kinds of events, remotes, and promotions. Before you finalize everything, run through this quick checklist to make sure your station's brand is front-and-center on all of your promotional pieces.
1) Is my station logo on each and every piece?
2) Have I included station contact info on every piece? (Web address, phone number, social media)
3) Is the station info prominent on each piece? (Can listeners see it right away?)
4) Do my on-air promotions match the printed and online promotions? (Is the theme the same across all channels?)
5) Is the contact info up-to-date?
6) Is it easy for listener to find holiday info online? (Promotion, themes, dates, times, locations?)
7) Does my staff know what to say and how to say it?
This may seem like a basic list, but it's easy to overlook things when you're rushed and on the go. Take five or ten minutes today to review your holiday promotions and make sure that your station brand is prominent and well represented across all channels.

We're addicted to new technology. Actually, to be more honest, we're addicted to new, shiny things. Whether it's the latest iPhone, the newest in-dash technology, or apps that control the home thermostat, we've been conditioned to look for the next big thing. And that seems to be a problem for radio. How can you possibly keep up with the latest trends and provide all the flash that consumers say they want?
The truth? You can't. The good news? You don't have to. People like toys, sure. But they also want consistency and dependability. They also want a person on the other end of the line. Someone who understands what they're dealing with and can help them through the issue. The latest issue of's report says it this way: “There are plenty of new technologies, clever concepts and even trends that could help brands offer better service to consumers. But too few brands understand that amid all this rapid change, the fundamentals of great service remain the same. It's about the feeling of being recognized. Listened to. Valued and cared for.” (Trendwatching, September 2014)
Here we are in a time of rapid change. We're wondering what's next for radio. Drones delivery? In-dash song and dance? Or does it matter how technology changes as long as you let listeners know that they're being recognized, listened to, valued, and cared for?

Welcome to October! We're well into the fall season and rapidly headed toward the holidays. But right now is a good time to take stock of what's going on in the lives of your listeners – especially mom. So what are some of the things happening this month...and what's on mom's mind?
• Halloween – Kids are gearing up for Halloween parties at school, Harvest Festivals at church, costumes and candy. And mom is at the center of the action. She's probably being asked to bake something for the classroom party or helping her church plan it's fall outreach event. How can you help? Recipes – especially quick, easy, and creative ones. Safety tips for kids headed out to Trick-or-Treat. Info on church events, trick-or-treating events at local malls, and, if you're willing to go out on a limb, low-cost ideas for costumes.
• Fall Clean Up – Retailers know that mom is getting the house ready for winter. They're rolling out sales on ladders, rakes, storage, and cleaning goods. People are starting to winterize their houses and they're cleaning the gutters. How can you help? Talk with some home repair specialists and share some tricks and tips for getting ready for the cold weather. Have your street crews offer to rake leaves while wearing your station shirt. Offer to have your morning team clean the gutters of one lucky listener.
• Cold Weather Clothing – Chilly fall weather means that mom is digging out sweatshirts and jackets. How can you help? Now would be a great time to give away some station-branded gear. Or maybe you want to try something unique and have a local graphic designer create a limited-edition sweatshirt that even the kids would want to wear. Another idea is to connect with churches that do a fall clothing exchange. Moms are always looking to save money and she's willing to go a little bit out of her way to save some bucks if she knows some good-quality clothing is available.
These are just some basic ideas to help you find ways to connect with mom and make her life a little easier. Be sure to look around for local events and happenings that are family friendly and fit with your station's brand. How can you be of service to mom this fall season?

I'm still trying to convince myself that I like U2's music. Nothing against the band – or their music – I've just never caught the U2 bug. But I was paying attention last week when iTunes released “Songs of Innocence.” After all, it's not every day that I get a free, brand-new album from a major band delivered to my inbox.
The publicity stunt grabbed a lot of attention. Some of it negative. Chris Richards, pop music reviewer for the Washington Post went so far as to call it “rock and roll as dystopian junk mail.” But whether you're a U2 fan or a hater, there were some good promotions ideas that you can take from the iTunes/U2 launch. Here's what I took away...maybe some of it will work for you.
1) People still like to receive gifts and surprises. Do you know anyone who turns down a gift? People still like receiving things...especially free things. Gifts/giveaways still get attention and pique peoples' interest. No matter if you're giving away refrigerator magnets, ballcaps, or front-row concert tickets, people like receiving tangible gifts. Always find room in your budget for these types of things.
2) Co-Branding is a powerful tool. Especially when both brands have a similar focus. Not only is iTunes a name brand associated with “cool” and “pop culture,” but U2 has worked to build a similar reputation. By themselves, each group has achieved significant success...but when combined, they gained significant attention. Is there someone – or something – in your market that would help you achieve similar awareness? Are there festivals you should be sponsoring? Concerts? Popular personalities? At first, this sounds shallow. But the goal is to remember that you're looking for someone who shares a similar purpose. Combining efforts means that you can both work to build each other's visibility and brand awareness. Connections allow you to achieve far more than you could on your own.
3) A good promotion is bigger than a one-time event. Why did iTunes and U2 give away an entire album? When you consider how much money could have been made from album sales, it seems like both groups left a lot of cash on the table. Or did they? Truth is, they'll both gain from the promotion. The album is most likely a loss leader – a sales gimmick retailers use to gain revenue. The strategy is simple: Offer one product at a steep, below-the-market price discount...but surround that product with similar – or ancillary – products so that people make an impulse purchase and buy more than they intended. In this case, both iTunes and U2 profit because they can sell an entire catalog of music. Like the new album? Then you'll probably like some of their older songs too. How does this mindset relate to your station? Start thinking about all of your promotions as a way to point people to your main product. Do all of your events, remotes, and sponsorships remind people to tune in to your morning show? Do people know where they can listen? What they can expect? Do you leave people wanting more of your product? That should be your main goal as a promotions person: Keep people wanting more.
The iTunes/U2 partnership is a great example of companies connecting with customers and creating a lasting conversation. Use those marketing tips to your advantage and remember: Keep people wanting more.

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