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Plan Now for Holiday Promotions

It’s July and you’re thinking about ... snow!...Of course I know you’re not trying to find your gloves today, but if you’d like to pick up some extra dough from holiday promotions this year, it is time to focus on fourth quarter.

It’s July and you’re thinking about … snow!

Of course I know you’re not trying to find your gloves today, but if you’d like to pick up some extra dough from holiday promotions this year, it is time to focus on fourth quarter.

Start now

Fact is, it takes months to sell the best of promotions to clients, so if you approach them by August for December, your odds of success increase greatly. Many promotions also take time to gather materials and information. Here’s a short list of fourth-quarter gems from my files. Tailor them by adding a local twist!


Start collecting drumsticks from drummers in your format now. Visit every concert this summer and if necessary, call managers and record labels for more. You’re going to need at least six pairs to do your “Drum Sticks For Thanksgiving” auction.

This makes a terrific morning show promotion and it’s even better if you can do the auction live on your Web site. This allows you to show off the nice box frames you’ve obtained for displaying the sticks. If you’ve got muscle with the labels, fly in a famous drummer for a Thanksgiving meal with the top bidder.

Nothing to do after dinner? How about Turkey Bowling? All you need are frozen turkeys, pins and an aisle at a supermarket. If you can’t find a supermarket that will buy this potential TV news story, try a bar, car dealer or shopping mall.

Everyone wants to do it – now anyone can: “Give the Boss the Bird.” Listeners either call or e-mail to explain why their boss deserves a free bird for Thanksgiving.

If you can give the boss two birds, he can then offer one to his favorite homeless shelter.


There are several AM radio stations around the U.S. who have aired the “Christmas Wish” promotion for years. It will work on virtually any format and like most promotions of this nature, you can add a Web component if you choose to do so.

Hook up with an agency that places children in local foster homes. You’re going to interview these kids to find out what presents they’d like for the holidays. Air audio of the kids and transcribe the wishes for the Web (with photos).

You then air the calls of people phoning to grant the wish, thanking them for their generosity.

There are two methods of gift collection: have listeners bring them by your station or have them drop by a check or credit card number with the amount of money they wish to spend and you purchase the present.

It’s nice to have a wrap-up party at a kid-friendly restaurant where the children get to meet the folks who made the donations. Be sure and have Santa on hand with lots of sweets and a goodbye goody bag for the kids. And remember to take pictures to post on your Web site.

Carefully work in the client so as to not sound too commercialized: “WWWW Christmas Wish is presented in part with a grant from (sponsor).”

Contesting and Christmas

You can invent any number of contests to fit a Christmas theme.

Keep in mind that you want to schedule the contests so that they air before the ratings period is over – plus there’s an advantage in doing it early enough in the month – people can focus on it before they’re shopping like last-minute maniacs.

Remember that you don’t have to be that literal when it comes to executing ideas. For example, you can do the “12 Days of Christmas” without leading up to Christmas. Each day give away a different (and hopefully larger) gift on-air.

Have people register at a sponsor location and by phoning or e-mailing the station. Announce a name at a selected time – they must be listening to win.

You can play this game so that it builds daily too – so that the second-day winner gets the prizes from day one and day two … the day-three winner gets all the booty from day one, day two and day three – and so forth.

A fun twist for a sports station is call this contest “The 12 Plays of Christmas” and have listeners identify play-by-play moments for prizes.

Wanna do a holiday food drive? Create your own “Canned Film Festival.” Listeners pay a reduced amount to get into the movies in exchange for a donation of canned goods.

A lot of us are “Cruisn’ For Christmas,” so give away free gas, plus road maps with your call letters.

Gloves For The Homeless” or “Coats For Kids” offer a great community feeling and can make you some holiday non-traditional revenue – listeners are asked to drop off these items at a client location.

Who knows if your listeners have been “Naughty or Nice?” Your morning show, naturally.

This one is best for off-color morning shows who can have their faithful call in to describe what they’ve done that’s so nice to receive a gift of lingerie that is so naughty.

If none of these meet your needs, do a quick brainstorming session now. Be sure and e-mail me your best ideas to share with others – after all, it is the season of giving!