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Promotional Ideas to Boost Your Station

Clever, creative promotions boost a broadcaster’s image, public awareness among listeners

Premier Christian Radio’s christening card for Prince George, as covered in the Express. (Credit: )

LONDON —Many Britons sent their best wishes to Prince George for christening on Oct. 23, including Premier Christian Radio. But none apparently matched this broadcaster’s eye-catching brilliance in signing 5,000 listener names to a giant christening card, which Peter Kerridge, Premier CEO, personally delivered to St. James’ Palace amidst much media fanfare.

As a Christian radio station celebrating a royal christening, it is reasonable to assume that Premier Christian Radio’s sentiments were sincere. However, delivering them on a gigantic card — marked at the bottom with the broadcaster’s logo — was also undeniably great station promotion. “The station received lots of national press and TV coverage as it was keying into a topical, popular event,” said United Kingdom radio consultant Paul Chantler.

Clever, creative promotions such as Premier Christian Radio’s christening card are a great way to boost a broadcaster’s image and public awareness among listeners. But there are many more ways to effectively promote radio’s profile, as illustrated by the examples below.


Chantler knows a lot about effective radio self-promotion. Besides spending 30 years in the industry — including running three of the big U.K. radio groups as group program director in the 1990s — he is co-founder of Radio Ideas Bank. It is a company, which Chantler explains, helps radio sales and programming professionals find creative contest and promotion ideas to grow ratings and revenue.

“We have registered users in more than 30 countries,” he notes. What is his advice for attention-seeking radio stations? “Think big and aim to do something that will make people talk positively about you,” he said. “An advertising agency boss once said to me, ‘Doing something people will remember is not enough. You have to do something they’ll never forget.’ That’s spot on.”

Paul Chantler, Co-Founder of Radio Ideas Bank. (Credit: Paul Chantler)

Premier Christian Radio is one of Chantler’s clients. Radio Ideas Bank “has a massive database of hundreds of contest and promotion ideas for stations, from the silly to the serious and the cool to the cheesy,” Chantler said. Among the concepts is the “Live With Your DJ” content, where the station makes life-sized cardboard cutouts of its deejays, and listeners who win a qualifying contest have to take them everywhere, take silly photos of the cutouts on location, and then post them on the station’s website where everyone else can vote for their favorites.

“I’ve run this contest several times and you’d be amazed at the creativity of listeners and the things they set up to get a funny picture,” said Chantler. “I remember one listener having the cutout ‘run over’ by a police car and using tomato ketchup to fake the blood!”

The holiday advertising season is vitally important to all forms of commercial media. The challenge is to create content that cuts through the clutter, to grab consumer attention and deliver whatever message to sponsor wants to get across.

Adam Gale runs Air Support, a radio advertising firm based in Edmonton, Alberta. When it comes to grabbing listener attention during the holidays, radio stations are ideally suited for the task, he explained. This is because the notion of a radio station’s identity is built upon sentiment and emotion, as opposed to a specific product and service — and emotion sells well at this cluttered time of year.

When it comes to promoting a station during the holidays, the key is to tie into the listeners’ own feelings, Gale advised. “Make people remember why they loved the holidays so much as a child,” he said. “Make them yearn to give that same experience to their family. Just be sure to memorably attach that warm feeling to your business, or it will be all for naught.”

Elf Radio is one of the digital radio-only stations launched to promote Commercial Radio Australia’s “Buy One Get One Free DAB+” campaign. (Credit: The world is going digital, including radio. The hard part is convincing people who are happy with their analog AM and FM receivers to spend their money on more-capable digital radios — precisely because these people are happy with what they’ve already got. Commercial Radio Australia, the body that represents that country’s commercial radio broadcasters, is tackling this challenge head-on with its occasional (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas) “Buy One Get One Free” DAB+ radio campaign.

“This campaign was designed to drive listeners to try digital for the new stations, better sound quality and get another radio they could give as a present,” said Joan Warner, CRA CEO. “Specific retailers involved in the promotion were tagged at the end of the ad. It was designed to increase the uptake of digital radio in Australia.”

Last Christmas’ campaign was driven via four clever 30-second ads produced by the award-winning ad agency Eardrum. Extolling the virtues of the Buy One Get One Free DAB+ gift promotion, one of the Eardrum ads explained, “So you’ll have an extra digital radio to give to the most important person in your life: You!” The ads ran for four weeks across the five state capitals where DAB+ digital radio is available in Australia. The campaign was also enhanced by the creation of “pop up” digital radio-only seasonal stations, such as Elf Radio.

The results speak for themselves: “The campaign resulted in the highest ever sales figures of DAB+ devices in one quarter during the 2012/2013 Christmas and New Year period since launch,” Warner said. “It represented an increase of 13.57 percent year on year for digital radio sales, defying a decline in Australian retail sales over the same period.”

James Careless is a regular contributor to Radio World International in Ottawa, Ontario.