Radio Syndication - This Is Our Black Friday
One look at the calendar along with holiday decorations starting to go up in stores, and it is easy to know-- it is that time of the year again! A common misunderstanding of the season is that decision makers somehow go into a black hole and any chance of a new business deal is gone just as quickly as the autumn leaves falling from trees. In the radio industry, this simply is not true. This is our Black Friday!
The autumn months are typically a time when radio executives examine their station's performance, goals met, areas for improvement, and next year's programming strategy. As such now is a perfect time to present new programming ideas to station executives. The smart programmers are currently evaluating which time slots are generating desired rating and revenue results, which ones need more incubation time, and those that need to be changed. Any programming line-up changes that will occur in the first quarter of 2015 are being evaluated and decided upon now. Program hosts who present their shows for consideration now will have a better chance of being picked up in the first quarter of 2015 than those who wait until after the holidays are over.
While the timing is right, time may be in short supply for today's multitasking radio managers. Knowing who to contact and who not to can save both you and prospective station programmers a lot of time. Here are a few common prospecting mistakes that many start-up shows often make:
Calling the big stations. Sure, these are the stations you would eventually like to be heard on, but step back for just a moment. New start-up shows need to first prove themselves before contacting a top tier radio station in a major market. These stations will want to know what kind of ratings and revenue you are generating for other stations. If you cannot impress them with your answer, save your prospecting time for smaller stations who are in an environment where they are able to take risks on newer programming.
Prospecting corporate owned radio stations. Many of today's radio companies have their own home grown national programming divisions. In addition to providing industry wide syndication, these divisions serve as a source of programming for company owned and operated stations. Not only do they help reduce local operating costs, the collective audience generated on these in-house networks can be a lucrative magnet for securing national advertisers. In many cases, local program managers are not able to make decisions on syndicated programming and are prohibited by corporate edict from taking anything outside of the company produced programming. To make the most of your time, prospect smaller groups and independently owned radio stations. These broadcasters have the autonomy to make local programming decisions and do not need to seek approval from several corporate layers.
Giving up too early. While one never wants to pester a radio station to carry their program, finding new affiliates is more than a one-call close. We like the three-strikes rule. Contact the station an initial three times via phone and email. It could be an introductory email followed by two phone calls, or any combination thereof. Unlike baseball, after three strikes, do not assume that you are "out". Simply put the prospect to the side for 30 days or so and step up to the bat again at that time. Successful affiliation is all about gaining awareness for your show, building towards prospect education (your demo), and converting the two into an interest that eventually leads to affiliation. Take the time to effectively manage each step, but don't get labeled as a pest.
Whatever pipeline stage your show is in now, awareness, education, or interest, this is our Black Friday. Turn up your affiliate prospecting efforts today for more stations tomorrow.
RadioLinx Broadcast Marketing
October 25, 2014