Expert Columns

No one likes to hear it. No one likes to say it. But sometimes the hardest word you'll ever say is the most important word someone needs to hear.


I had to stand up to a client this past week and tell them, “No. We will not meet your deadline because your product isn't ready. Your reputation will be damaged unless we take steps to fix the product before sending it out.”

It wasn't a discussion I wanted to have. Nor did the client want to hear it. But we both agreed that saying “no” was the right thing to do.

Not long ago, I heard a strategic planner describe his work: “Strategy isn't just about planning and doing things ... it's also about saying 'and we will NOT do these things.'”

Sometimes “no” is the right word to say.

Saying “no” keeps us from overcommitting and watering down our effectiveness. It means limiting our promotions to one goal. It means limiting our message to one simple topic. It means choosing the one thing that will make us effective … and eliminating things that will distract us.

So what's in front of you today? What do you need to say “no” to?

It's never easy to say “no.” But sometimes, it's the right thing to say.

Bill Arbuckle CMW

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..

Over the next few weeks, we'll be hearing a lot about the effects of Hurricane Irma. We'll also continue hearing about the cleanup from Hurricane Harvey. In fact, much of the national conversation will revolve around the topic of hurricanes, destruction and the toll that these storms have taken on our nation.

And since everyone will be talking about hurricanes, that means that mom is talking about them too. In fact, she'll be talking to her kids about hurricanes and helping them deal with the images they'll see online and on TV.

You have the opportunity to talk to mom and help her as she talks to her family. Here are a couple of ways you can help:

1) Open the dialog and invite mom to share her thoughts. How is she doing? What is she telling her kids? How is her family helping storm victims? This is a great topic for online discussion. Invite mom to comment on your Facebook page. Invite her on air as well.

2) Give her resources to help talk about it. Share some online resources to help families understand what's happening. has an entire section dedicated to helping kids deal with hurricanes:

3) Show her how she and her kids can help. Connect with a reputable relief organization that is working in the area. Ask them how families can get involved … and then give mom the opportunity to help out – whether it's by making a donation or collecting supplies. Give her ways to get her kids involved.

4) Give regular updates. It's easy to become consumed by the crisis of the moment, but remember that the victims of Irma and Harvey will be dealing with the disasters for months and years. Provide regular check-ins with relief groups and share that info with mom.

Show mom that you're on her side. Help her connect with her kids and teach them lessons about caring and empathy as we together help those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Bill Arbuckle CMW

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..

Rube Goldburg is known for his crazy contraptions. You've probably seen his drawings – complicated machines that accomplish a simple purpose: kicking a ball, using a napkin and opening a parachute. Goldburg was a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist whose goal was to help people laugh at how easy it can be to turn a simple job into something complicated.
In spite of his clever cartoons … we've never really gotten the message: keep it simple.
People like to think that creating a complex plan means that our idea is intelligent and attention getting. You see it when clients request an ad packed with a laundry list of sales and instructions. Or someone writes an online post that goes on and on. You know it won't work. There's just too much to pack in to 30 seconds or 140 characters.
Our job as communicators is to teach our clients that simple sells. People have a tiny attention span and won't catch it all. Our role – sometimes – is to gently push back and help clients cut through the clutter and connect.
How to start?
Look at your own projects. Your own content. Your own promotions. Where can you simplify? (Without cutting corners) What do you want people to remember? Are you stating it clearly? Can you say more with fewer words? Share your findings with co-workers and clients. Help them understand that simplicity sells.
Here's a challenge for communicators: keep all those Rube Goldburg contraptions on the printed page where they belong. And keep them away from your content, clients and promotions.

Hurricane Harvey has come and gone. Now, it's time for the residents of Houston, Texas, to clean up and rebuild. Thankfully, they're not alone.

Groups like the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Samaritan's Purse are joining with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin the tough task of putting lives back together. No doubt you're already helping spread the word about the relief efforts. Thank you!

Part of my background includes crisis communications for a disaster relief agency. Here are some tips our agency would often share with the media:

1) The most important thing you can do right now is to donate to legitimate disaster relief agencies. Let the pros get in and assess the situation. Support them with your funds so they can bring food, water and supplies to victims of the storm.

2) Make sure the agency you're supporting has a good track record of disaster relief work and uses their money wisely. When in doubt, check Charity Navigator or the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. You can also Google the company's name and see what's been written by them.

3) Don't encourage volunteers to go to Houston. Yet. Wait until the disaster relief agencies ask for help. If teams head down right now, they'll only add to the chaos.

4) If you are involved in a charity drive for victims, ask people to give only the basics. Avoid clothing drives. This creates extra work because clothes have to be sorted and distributed. Instead, team up with an agency and ask people to give what the relief agency recommends.

5) Keep your listeners up to date with the latest information from the relief agency you're partnering with. Let people know that their money and efforts are being used wisely.

The Houston clean up efforts offer great opportunity for us to shine brightly for Christ. Encourage your listeners to support the work of disaster relief agencies and when the time is right, to get involved and change lives.

Bill Arbuckle CMW

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

Did you survive the solar eclipse? Hopefully you have some fun memories – and maybe some photographs – to share. After all, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Speaking of events, Monday's eclipse proved that people love events. Even though we're surrounded by hi-tech gadgets that allow us to watch and witness everything, we can't get away from the actual experience of “being there” and seeing it first hand.
So before you put the eclipse glasses away and file your photographs in a digital folder, take a couple of minutes to think about what made this moment in time special.
Was it the thrill of watching a live event unfold?
Was it the excitement of spending time with family and friends?
Did you look forward to booking a campsite or hotel and traveling to watch the event?
Was it the photos and souvenirs?
As you answer those questions, take notes about what made this event so special … and then take those thoughts and ideas and apply them to your next station promotion.
People crave experiences. That moment of “being there,” seeing things happen, being part of a movement or moment in history.
The good part? Not every experience has to be out of this world. Some can be small, but meaningful.
So how can you make your next big promotion an experience that your audience will look back and say, “I was there. I experienced it.”

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