“As God is my
witness, I thought turkeys could fly,” WKRP General Manager Arthur Carlson moaned
in one of the show’s most famous scenes.
source tells me this episode was based — as were many others — on fact, having
been written by a sales vet from a station in Atlanta.
Anyone who has
worked in our business for more than a few years knows too well how wrong a holiday
promotion can go when it isn’t conceived and executed carefully.
Let’s go through a few staples to get us
in the mood and help you generate even more ideas while joyfully upping revenue
Stick Up for a Cause —
Everybody loves drumsticks, so why not use ’em to help you raise big bucks for
Collect a half
dozen drumsticks from well-known musical groups. Frame each collectable,
perhaps with a lyric sheet of the band’s most famous song and an autograph from
— who else? — the drummer.
pictures of each framed collectable and let the auction begin. While you could
do a live auction on-air only for a few hours, you’ll make more money for the
charity of your choice by putting them on eBay and linking the photos from your
website to the auction.
decide to run the auction for one day or several, be sure to update your
listening audience about the current bids. If it’s possible to get the
drummer(s) to do a live call-in, it will add extra authenticity.
morning show make an on-air check presentation to the charity the day before
Thanksgiving. You can position a title sponsor by calling it “The [Name of
Client]” Drumstick Auction. If the client has a featured location you could put
the sticks on display there too.
Ask for Food — I feel compelled to encourage you to
consider food collection this Thanksgiving. There are many food banks that need
assistance to meet the demands brought by unemployment and under-employment.
While it can
be difficult to get listeners to donate cash, it’s relatively easy to get
people to bring food, if you ask for it properly.
I still love
hearing a DJ or several DJs camped out in a truck they’re attempting to fill
with food until they can’t lay down anymore. It may take you a week to fill a
big moving truck, so be prepared.
The good news
is that the longer the promotion goes on, the more publicity you’ll generate
via television coverage and action on Facebook and Twitter. Use short sounds
bites from people who depend on the food bank and from representatives. Your
title sponsor can serve as a drop-off location.
of progress on your website or stream the entire activity live with a “turkey-cam.”
Simple Helping — A much
smaller but worthy Thanksgiving promotion involves having your DJs dish out
food at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving. It will be an experience they will
never forget; and their participation will remind your audience that your
station cares about your community.
Religion and Culture — As we
flip the calendar to December, I’m reminded that people increasingly have
become cynical about holiday commercialism.
If you’d like
to walk down a path few commercial stations choose, you could actually create a
December services and events calendar on your website and promote it on-air.
just for stations with a religious bent, nor is about one specific faith. There
is room to celebrate faith and culture observances like Christmas, Hanukkah and
Kwanzaa by letting your listeners know where they can attend services and
special events. Highlight a few of these on the air, mentioning your title
sponsor and driving traffic to the website section.
Gordon Jump, aka Arthur Carlson, delivers the famous
Could you live
stream any of these services or events? Why not? People won’t watch them if
they’re not interested.
Twelve Keys of Christmas — Now on to crash commercialism.
Do you know
anybody who wouldn’t want a car as a holiday present? Find a car dealer to give
you a car (or a long lease on one) to give away on-air. The “Twelve Keys of
Christmas” works great when you register people all day for 12 consecutive
days, picking one key winner each day. As you’re doing this, ads are running
for your title sponsor encouraging listeners to visit the dealership because 12
additional keys will be given away on-site, one per day.
Key winners will try their key during
the event you stage a few days before Christmas.
Digital Day — When’s the last time you
did a promotion for HD Radio? The holidays are a perfect time to promote your
HD stations by giving away digital receivers while tying into a local retailer
for a special sale.
If you can’t
get radios to do giveaways, can you give away a show-hosting opportunity to a
listener? Maybe this winner could host a Christmas-, Hanukkah- or Kwanzaa-themed
show on one of your multicast channels.
Shopper’s Delight — Perhaps
there is a major (mid- to high-end) store in your community who would host a
special evening shopping event in which consumers make a substantial donation
to a charity for the privilege of shopping at 50 percent off for a few hours.
have to be some limitations to this promotion; but I have seen it raise
thousands for charities, while making money for stations because of the sponsor
charity wisely, as it will be handling many of the logistics and inviting their
membership to participate.
First Baby — Is it New Year’s
yet? Call me sentimental, but I still love the “first baby of the year” contest.
“Calling all pregnant couples due to deliver around Dec. 31! Will your bundle
of joy be the one to win all the goodies we’ve gathered from these sponsors? Send
us your sonogram!”
follow along by placing “bets” on your website. Whoever picks the correct
couple also wins the same prize(s) supplied by the contest sponsors.
If none of
these ideas suits you, I suggest viewing a few short pieces on YouTube of WKRP.
While you might not find anything useful, you will at least get a laugh. This will
put you in a better mood for brainstorming your own celebratory promotions.
Mark Lapidus is president of Lapidus