Expert Columns

Did you know that nearly half of NFL fans are female? The National Football League does and they’re going gangbusters to cater to their fans.
This season, the NFL is partnering with Marie Claire magazine to provide a season pull-out chart, pre-game rituals, and more. (Marie Claire is expanding last-year’s successful Fan Girl Guide and plans more through the season.) The NFL has even revamped its apparel line. Out with the pink jerseys. In with real team colors.
You’ve always known that mom is aware of football. She attends her kids’ games, right? But now she’s sharing the sofa with dad and the kids…and snitching the Doritos during the pre-game show.
So with that in mind, you could…
Talk some Friday Morning Football. (Thursday is the new night for games)
Create a Family Football Night and give away some couch-surfing gear covered in station logos. Chip bowls? Can Kozies? Cushions? Nerf Footballs?
Try a Football Theme at your next station remote.
Score Some Interviews with Players – especially Christian players. If you can’t do that, then interview the team chaplain. Be sure to share your station demographics with the press office when asking for interviews. It helps to show the publicist that your audience matches theirs.
Don’t Forget Social Media! Have some fun with it!
This is one of those “real life” themes that connect with listeners, so take advantage of it and start a new conversation!

The nation has been watching events unfold in Ferguson, Missouri. You know the story: A white police officer shot a black teenager. Social unrest has been the result, and will likely continue to be in the headlines for quite some while.
What does all of this have to do with your station? Your target audience may not be watching the news closely, but her kids are hearing about these kinds of events at school. Is this something your station can address? It's a tough issue. But if you choose to address it, here are three things you can consider.
1) Build connections with pastors in your community. Do you have a relationship with ethnic churches? Remember to include them in your regular communications. Do you invite pastors in to pray on-air? Add a new voice that represents the ethnic population in your market. Not only will it reflect on the diversity in your community, but it can demonstrate unity in the Body of Christ.
2) Get behind local outreaches to various people groups. Have you ever promote Big Brothers/Big Sisters? Junior Achievement? Keep your eyes open for civic events. It may not be core to your audience, but if it is an opportunity to help kids in your community, you can bet that mom – any mom – will take notice.
3) Hold a Day of Prayer for Ferguson. This could be as easy as building a day long promotion that includes 60-second vignettes of local pastors praying for Ferguson (or other major events). Create conversations with local churches by letting them know about the Day of Prayer. This type of promotion can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it.
Events like Ferguson are difficult to address head-on. But there are little things that you can do to start building bridges in your community. And it's surprising how God can use those simple day-to-day things to make an eternal impact in your market.

It's tough to stay fresh. To always stay at the top of your game and keep people interested in your next event. Anyone who has been in a creative job knows that it takes a lot of work. At times it feels like you're expected to be an idea factory and grind out the content. Some days, that's true. You do have to keep moving, no matter how you feel. But over the years, I've learned some ways to fuel the idea factory and keep ideas coming. If you're stuck, try one or two of these.
1) Keep an eye out for slightly unusual things. One of my favorite station liners came from a tourism ad. The headline invited families to “upgrade your memories.” It was a different way to invite people to step away from the computer and step in to life. Since then, I'm always looking for things that have a slight twist on the ordinary.
2) Listen to people. Don't just talk...take time to listen. You'll discover some of the best stories, ideas, and trends just by listening. One of my hobbies is writing stories and devotions. Many of those writing spring from a conversation with a friend...or even with the person standing in line behind me at the store. I'm often surprised at how open people about their lives – frustrations and family issues – when they're stuck in a long line. Make it a habit to listen.
3) Start a journal or notebook. I keep a couple of “idea journals” close at hand so that I can jot down interesting phrases or ideas. I'm not writing about my day, and I'm not necessarily organizing those ideas. But I do have a place where I can keep track of those random ideas, and can occasionally flip through to find inspiration. Start your own collection of ideas – digital or on paper – and read back through it from time to time.
4) Read your junk mail. When the mail man delivers a stack of coupons or flyers, take time to glance through them. Look at it this way...someone took the time to layout their marketing ideas and physically send them to you. So go ahead and read it. Sure, most of it IS junk, but remember, you're just looking for ideas.
5) Flip through magazines. Especially when you're standing in line at the store. What's the latest tip on organizing your home? How can you save fifty dollars in groceries each week? The magazines that deal with home life and family issues are a gold mine of ideas that you can adapt and use to create your own content.
Finding ideas to fuel your idea factory comes down to two simple rules: Keep your eyes (and ears) open...and write those ideas down.

There are a hundred different ways to plan a great promotion. And there are thousands of great ideas and opportunities available to keep your station forefront in your listeners' minds. But there is one rule that you need to remember in order to keep your promotions running smoothly. It also helps make an impact with listeners. It's easy...and it seems like a “duh.” But once you start planning and preparing, you'll be tempted to throw it out the window in favor of something more elaborate. But if you stick to this one rule, you'll be head and shoulders above other promotions planners in the market. Ready to hear it? Here it is:
Keep It Simple.
That's it. Keep it simple. Disappointed? You shouldn't be. Simplicity can seem like a negative. We like to produce things with a lot of splash and moving parts. We like carnivals and midways and flashing lights. Simplicity sounds just the opposite. But it's not. Simplicity offers a clear goal, and tells the listener what they need to do and how they need to do it. Once you've nailed down the basics, then you can provide whatever flashy lights and décor are needed to enhance the promotion.
You'll never go wrong if you keep things simple. Build your promotional framework, set clear goals and timelines, and make sure that listeners know exactly what they need to accomplish. Then, launch that promotion and have fun!

What's next on your promotional calendar? Labor Day? Harvest Festivals? Back-to-school plans are at the forefront right now, but what happens next?
While you're planning all those 4th quarter events, don't forget to plan for the content you'll need to support them. Here's a look at the next major holidays and some content ideas to help you deliver quality info that reinforces your station as the family-first station in your market.
SEPTEMBER: Labor Day. This is coming up quickly. Families will try to get in one last mini-vacation, one last camping trip, or one last summer blast. Give them info about community events, national parks, gas prices, recipes to use while camping, and ways to make the Labor Day Weekend a lot of fun without a lot of stress. Don't forget – in last week's article – I encouraged you to start collecting holiday recipes! Start compiling them now!
OCTOBER: Halloween/Harvest Festivals. Got any crazy/fun urban legends in your market? Is it ok to have some fun with those? I realize this is an “iffy” area for a lot of stations, but if it's something light-hearted, maybe it's worth looking in to. How about safety tips for trick-or-treaters? Church parties that are open to the public? Don't forget that there's a time change this time of year and that general safety is an issue. Share some interviews/info from local police officers. Remember to keep the content simple and local. The more it pertains to famillies in your unique market, the more valuable it is to listeners.
NOVEMBER: Thanksgiving. What's not to like about Thanksgiving? But what can you do that hasn't been done to death? Are there any historical re-enactment groups in your area that could provide short video clips you can post on your station's Facebook page? Are there any historians that can give some interesting interviews about Thanksgiving history in your market? How about posting some cleaning tips that mom and the family can use to get the house in ship-shape before company comes? Recipes? Thanksgiving movie recommendations?
DECEMBER: Christmas. There's really no way to mess up Christmas content. People are hungry for Christmas content and tradition. They're looking for stories to share with families, unique gift ideas, feel-good content that keeps them smiling while shopping. They're also spending money they don't have. Maybe some daily financial tips would be good to share. Shopping survival techniques? What events are happening in your market? Can some citizen reporters provide posts and content for you? The ideas are endless.
Start a content calendar today. Plan out what to post and when to post it. Get your team involved in creating ideas that will connect with listeners. Your content is as important as your 4th quarter promotions...and good content can make a promotion even greater. Make the most of this opportunity!

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