How to create great radio promotions

On air with great show prep

All you need is a great mechanic, listener interaction and reaction, several good prizes and good talk-ability too.

Back in 2003 I was nominated for a Radio Academy Promotions and Marketing award for a marketing campaign I’d set up for CTR 105.6fm, a commercial radio station in Maidstone, Kent, United Kingdom.

I recently read a post from another radio professional with a top five tips on how not to run an on air promotion.  Some points were well made yet I disagreed with the premise that everything should be social media driven.  I believe that any promotion on air should be story driven.  If it ain’t got a story at its heart then for me it doesn’t have the legs.

The promotion we ran, now some ten years or so ago, with CTR was called “Say happy 3rd birthday to CTR 105.6FM and win with 3”.

The Mechanic was simple. We invited listeners to say Happy Birthday 3rd Birthday CTR 105.6fm. Do it whatever way you want, but you must prove it with a photograph.

The prize was nice. We offered 10 brand new Sony Ericson mobile phones, which included the latest camera, and one lucky listener would get a years free 3 contract, others were on pay as you go sims.  We teamed up with 3mobile for the promotion. Hey some synergy with our third birthday.

The outcome we desired. We wanted our P1 listeners (position one on the dial) who are loyal to help us market the radio station on our third birthday. We had no money to promote the station – none.  My marketing budget had dropped to £150 for a month. The idea was to get our listeners promoting us on round about’s, at work, at supermarkets or wherever they could get the name CTR 105.6fm.

The actual outcome. We had tons of people going around putting banners up, creating their own sheets, posters in their windows, home made car stickers on the back windows of their cars. People were spraying sheep, builders were creating large collages in fields. It was great, we had tons of pictures to display o the website.

The sheep were sprayed by a shepherd by the way and not any old member of the public, we were informed by ‘Kate The Shepherd’ as she was known that one of the sheep made a run for it on market day. Another farmer shouted “Oi stop that sheep with CTR on it’s back”. You can’t buy that type of marketing.

In the end we spent nothing on the promotion but we got tons back in people talking about us, we had a police officer bring us a blanket that someone had erected on main round about – oops.  We know by Rajar and our own research we had new people tuning in and our loyal listeners told us that it was fun.

Short Timescale.  It ran for three weeks, one pre-promote and two activity.  That’ it.

My view is be creative but think of the outcome you desire and understand what your listener actually wants ahead of creating a promotion.  One size does not fit all and a promotion on another station or in another market may not work on/in yours.

Ask yourself does it need to be on social media or is it social media driven? How does your listener interact with you?  Do you want to reward loyal listeners or gain new fans?  What get’s them talking any of them?

Back to the blog post I recently read which tended to rubbish all of the current radio promotions, things like the secret sound, guess who is saying the station name and when we call don’t say hello but do say 105.7 bluff fm.  Maybe with those he has a point.

Be creative and think different.

Top Tips for Social Media Picture Posting Etiquette: Your Children


Phoner and Advice Opportunity

Do you post pictures of your loved one’s on Facebook or twitter?  What about the children.?

We thought we’d share a few do’s and don’t’s  for picture posting if you post on Facebook, twitter and even flickr..

This is especially relevant if you share pictures of yours (or other peoples’) children on-line…

Top Tips for Social Media Picture Posting Etiquette: Your Children

• Always check with parents before posting a pic of their child.

• Also, if you don’t want photos of your children from a party or event shared on-line, tell your friends at the beginning of the event.  Remember it is up to you.

• Be your own editor.  Post the 1 or 2 best photos, not all 36 you took trying to get the best shot of your kid.

• Check in with your child. If he or she is old enough to know what the Internet is or even have her own Facebook account, ask before posting. Mum or dad’s idea of an adorable photo may differ from her views.

• Keep the bathtub and potty photos for you and the grandparents. Someday your child may grow up to be a judge or CEO of a major company.  Besides, your friends don’t really want that level of intimacy with your children anyway.

– Advice courtesy of


Radio Show Prep – Why Do We Keep Talking About Prep?


Show Prep Isn’t Just Show and Go

There are few presenters who can just turn up and do the job amke it sound great without doing any show prep.   A good programme controller or programme consultant will advise you to prep in one way or another  –  it’s an important aid to creating great radio.

So what is it that presenters and producers should be doing with prep?  Here’s the programmers advice.

Do the Research

It’s not just looking through the newspaper or going to websites or indeed to the cut paste a prep service.  It most definitely isn’t going into the studio with that material and reading it directly to air.  Not reading the weather or showbiz gossip direct from a paper as is – a real no no.

Your listener wants to feel like you have an opionion

You may be the first person to share the news with them

Research is about finding something that relates to you and your listener.  If you’re going to talk about something on air it really does have to interest you, it has to spark something in you, and if not why bother?   Prep is about knowing your audience understanding what their wants and needs are. Understanding what makes the listener tick and what makes you tick and why are they listening to your show goes a long way to helping you prep.

Own the Content and Make it Yours

Make it yours and make it stand out.  There is a view that if people say they have heard something and you delivered as your news, then the listener is likely to credit you if they tell someone else about it.   Form a view on the subject matter, tell us why you think Cheryl is great, or perhaps you think she can’t sing, and please don’t just say Cheryl clearly mimed on TV last night – add a little something of you to the link.

Speak Like a Real Person

Never take the actual cutting or piece direct form the newspaper, website or live read.   Always readjusts for your style of broadcast. It is about making it about you and speaking like a real person with spoken English – the same as everyone else speaks.

It is a Performance

Radio presentation is about performance, you are on stage and performing and many programmers ask you to make it count.  One programmer once said to me that they had spent thousands on getting me on air so I need to deliver when I open the microphone fader.

One way of looking at it is most stations are lucky to have someone listen through just a few links.  The listener will be doing the usual busy and hectic things that occupy their lives; you have been invited in to that environment.

I know for example when I’m driving away from home towards work I lose the local station within a few records.   In addition I like to be entertained, informed and made aware of what’s happening in the world around me.

Therefore make it count.  If you’ve carried out the research you should be able to deliver.  Don’t just deliver a lame read out of the newspapers link.  Make it personal, make it yours and make sure it relates, entertains or educates your audience.  Are you changing their day by what you say?

What Else Do I Need?

You could also ask yourself about other elements to make a link work, why should it just be you and speech.  What about getting interactive with a caller either to start or end a link, could you include music, an audio cut or perhaps sound effects.  What about another presenter to create a cut about the story. A member of the news team could add authority while you add your spin to the subject matter.  You could make a dummy advert or a sketch with you playing out the characters or mimicking the event.

It’s Not the First Time

When you open the microphone and are ready to deliver the link it shouldn’t be the first time you’ve heard it.  You don’t have to read it out loud, some do, but you should have rehearsed it in your mind.   It should be researched thought out and made from your heart it should be a performance that is real and about you.  That is why we talk so much about prep.

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