Expert Columns

Memorial Day Weekend is the “unofficial” start to the summer season. Is mom already pulling her hair out from trying to come up with ideas to keep the kids occupied? Come to her rescue with a couple of simple activities she can do on her own time:
• Summer Bucket List – Ask mom what five things she'd like to do this summer? Then give her a simple checklist so she can keep track of them. Create a simple “Summer Bucket List” form for your Pinterest/Web pages. Mention it on air and in your regular e-letters. Bonus points if you provide ides for mom to consider.
• Epic Chalk Art Contest – Get the kids out of the house for a few hours by promoting a chalk art contest. Keep it simple: The drawings can be done at the listener's own house. Mom just needs to snap and send a picture of the art to your station's Facebook page. (No kid photos, please) Promote the contest over the course of the week and be sure to drive listeners to your social sites so they can leave comments and choose the best one. Hey...while the kids are drawing the art, can they also put in your station call letters? It'd make a great header for your Facebook page.
• Rediscover Your Hometown – Got any free tourist attractions, museums, or nature centers? Free is the key word. Invite the local museum curator, host, or PR person to share some of the fun stuff about the location. Maybe talk about a special day at the site. (Again, free is the word) Send your morning host to the site ahead of time to take pictures/video and post. Maybe get creative and set up an audio scavenger hunt so kids can record nature sounds. The up side to this idea is that it gets the kids out of the house...and provides you with fodder for your public information file.
Whatever you do this summer, remember that this is a great time to connect with moms in your listening audience. Find ways to interact and encourage active listening and participation.

Over the next several weeks, many moms in your listening audience are planning for the end of the school year. For some, that means planning their child’s graduation celebration parties.
This presents your station with an opportunity to get involved with mom and her life, and to give her some practical tips she can use when getting ready for this big event.
As you plan your programming and promotions, think of the things that will be beneficial to mom. Some things that immediately come to mind involve party planning, buying clothes for special end-of-the-the-school year ceremonies, and transitioning for college.
Help mom out by featuring experts in these areas. Interview a party/event planner and ask how she would help a family get ready for a graduation party. Ask if the planner has a basic checklist that you can post on your station’s social media sites.
Are parents thinking about all the things their son or daughter will need to take with them to college? Invite a home organizer on your morning show to talk about what kids need in the dorm and how to pack wardrobes, books, electronics, and all those necessary gadgets. Don’t stop there, plan to give an inbound college student a new tablet, iPad, or top-of-the-line computer. Or go all out and give away the electronics…and a high-end entertainment system (and don’t forget to tell them where to find their hometown station on the web.)
This is a big transition period for parents and kids. Invite a family counselor on air and share ways that parents can help their child transition well.
And don’t forget the most important thing a kid can take to college: Their Faith. Barna Research tells us time and time again that kids start to drift away from their faith while in college. So get proactive and talk with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade) or other college ministries and help parents know what’s available for their students.
Be mom’s hero this time of year. Help her know what’s ahead…and that she’s not alone in dealing with the end-of-the-school year issues!

Would you dare to try something different? Y'know, shake things up a bit. What would it be? How would people respond if you did something just a bit out of the ordinary?
Stop and think about it for a bit. When was the last time you watched a TV show that wasn't a spin on some overused theme? It seems that everyone on TV is doing a talk show, a reality show with ghosts, castaways, or a “let's take this apart and see what works” theme.
What about radio? What's different? Who's doing that one thing that really stands out and makes people want to stop and listen? Would you dare to try something...something small...that's different?
New things are being done, sure. But they're scary. They're not the normal things. Sometimes they're a new twist on an idea that's clothed in a “familiar” package. Maybe they're a funny twist on a well-used theme...like Will Ferrel's “Ron Burgundy” character turning a car commercial on its head by pitching not the size of the truck bed, but the size of the vehicle's glove box. People thought they were watching just another car commercial, what they got was a comedy routine that was used to sell a car. It was just different enough that people took notice.
Maybe “different” means that you try a new summer promotion this year. Maybe you crowdsource new content from local listeners. Maybe instead of giving out pre-printed station logo t-shirts to listeners, you give blank ones and invite your listeners to come out to a promotion and create their own station logo t-shirts.
Maybe some of your ideas won't work. But does that mean you've failed? Or does it mean that you're finding new ways to connect listeners to your station?
People want to know that they're connected with something fresh and alive. Sometimes that means that we take chances on a new idea. Sometimes it means we dare to do something outside of the ordinary. Something a little unexpected. What would you dare to do?

America was surprised last week to learn that one of its oldest magazines is ceasing publication as a monthly publication. After 131 years, Ladies Home Journal has cut its staff and announced it is changing from a monthly magazine to a quarterly.
For those of us in media, it's another reminder of how our landscape is changing. A reminder that it is the end of an era. Magazines, print, TV, and radio are all changing as a result of the online world. In the case of Ladies' Home Journal, parent company Meredith Corporation said it made the decision because the magazine had too broad of an approach and had an aging (57+) readership. Meredith Corporation told the New York Times* that instead of a “broad appeal” type of magazine, they are forging ahead with publications that are highly focused topical magazines such as Every Day with Rachel Ray, AllRecipes, and Eating Well.
Why is the demise of a magazine important to radio? Two reasons: First, it is the end of an era. Ladies' Home Journal continued to boast a strong readership (approximately 2 million), and was a legacy publication (mothers passed subscriptions to their daughters for two to three generations). However, the legacy audience was not the right audience for today's advertisers. Advertisers wanted to reach a highly-targeted group of individuals. Radio faces a similar dilemma, however, wise radio programmers already know that the era of legacy audience and legacy funding is ending. Today's advertisers want in-depth data on audiences. They want to make sure that every dollar they spend gets used to the max. You already know this, but it's worth the reminder that we are in a new world.
But the cessation of Ladies' Home Journal has a second lesson for radio and it’s this: We are in a new era. The online world gives you the opportunity to tinker with new ideas and new ways to reach your audience. This is a tougher world to compete in, however, you can offer those laser-focused resources to your audience and track the results. Have you considered using your online channels to as a sandbox to try new ideas? To train new talent? To experiment with new sources of advertising? It's a great time to create new connections to your existing – and possibly untapped – audience.
Learn from the lessons of Ladies' Home Journal and remember that times are changing, but that this new era gives you the opportunity to build even stronger connections with your audience and advertisers.

Why is a Hollywood actress suing a drug store chain...and what does it mean for you?
This past week Katherine Heigl announced a $6 million dollar lawsuit against the Duane Reade drugstore chain because it posted her photo on its Twitter page along with the caption, “Love a quick #DuaneReade run? Even @KatieHeigl can't resist shopping #NYC's most convenient drug store.”
Sounds innocent enough, right? A simple observation about a celebrity's shopping trip? The actress doesn't think so. She claims the claim is using her image and name for advertising purposes – without her permission. (CNN.com has the full story)
So what is it? Is the actress over-reacting? Was the drug store's post just a harmless social media comment? And why is this important to you and your social media team?
For starters, she's right to protest the unauthorized use of her image when it's construed as an endorsement or advertisement. Had the image/text simply stated that “Guess who we saw at our store today!”, then there might not be as much controversy. But the copy turned a paparazzi moment into a full-blown ad.
And here's why this lawsuit matters to your social media team: It's easy to make this kind of mistake. Chances are that you won't have a high-profile Hollywood run-in this week, but it is wise to set up safeguards for your social media content so that your team doesn't get caught up in a similar situation. Make sure your posters know the difference between reporting and unintentional advertising/endorsements. One simply states the facts, the other implies that the personality you just profiled wholeheartedly endorses your activity.
Keep an eye on this case. It may amount to nothing but a celebrity spat...then again, it may change the way in which social media reporting is conducted.
What are your thoughts? Let me know on Twitter @arbuckwr.

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