The last few weeks have been tough. Entire industries are being shut down, crippling their immediate revenue and leaving businesses scrambling to find ways to stay afloat. In discussions with broadcasters across the country, the common theme is the struggle to hold onto booked revenue and annual buys, with varying degrees of success. Account executives are pivoting their focus from generating new revenue and advertisers to trying to save schedules already on the books. The loss isn’t just financial – it is also the forfeiture of countless hours collaborating with advertisers and agencies, promotions, programming and sales management that went into generating each campaign now being threatened.

Radio is primed to rise to the task.

Radio remains the ONLY mass-reach broadcast medium that is hyper-local, every hour of the day. During times of crisis, our community turns to us and needs us.  We are their source for news, the voice of calm, the trusted friend who provides local information and a source of much needed entertainment to combat the stress and uncertainty of our environment.

Now is the time to remind our advertisers of the power of radio and give them the tools they need (radio + digital assets) to pivot their advertising messages to targeted audiences which will move the needle within any marketplace and in any economy.  Brad Adgate wrote a great article published in Forbes, “When a Recession Comes, Don’t Stop Advertising” and there are lessons contained within that we can all learn from. One of the many great points that Brad makes is “The noise level in a brand’s product category can drop when competitors cut back on their ad spend. It also allows for advertisers to re-position a brand or introduce a new product.” He goes on to say, “When marketers cut back on their ad spending, the brand loses its “share of mind” with consumers, with the potential of losing current – and possibly future – sales. An increase in share of voice typically leads to an increase in share of market. An increase in market share results, with an increase in profits.” Great ideas, coupled with the best vehicles to deliver those ideas to the market, will not only help stave off cancellations, but provide real results for your advertisers.

Trying to convey this to advertisers isn’t always easy.  I am going to use an imaginary client “Paige’s Longbranch Bar” to show how an account executive may model their approach to an advertiser wanting to cancel their current campaign.

Paige’s Longbranch Bar is a local-owned establishment that only serves pitchers of beer and Tombstone Pizza.  They are “cancelling the year” because their business is closed due to Covid-19 and they are unable to offer take-out.  Below is a sample script of how this conversation can go:

AE: Paige, while I can can certainly understand your concern, you have been advertising with our station for eight years and we are here to help. I have an idea that I believe will make you stronger as we come out of this crisis.

Paige: I appreciate the offer, but we are closed! What could I possibly advertise?

AE: I know that the local food pantry is hurting, how about some copy that runs like this, “While Covid-19 has taken some of the simple pleasures in life away from all of us, the employees of Paige’s Longbranch Bar want to remind you that those good times will return. Our family can’t wait to see your smiling faces and know it won’t be too long until we do. In the meantime, we recognize that there are people in our community struggling to put food on their table, which is why we have donated the rest of this commercial to our local food bank. Please listen to their plea and consider helping however you can. Find out more ways to help on our website.”

We can offer up additional inventory at no charge to run your spot in addition to your current schedule to further promote your message.

Paige also owns the local Chevy Dealership as well and is cancelling their schedule because their dealership can’t provide test drives and business and declined rapidly.

AE: Paige, last month when we spoke, business was good and you were happy with your return on investment. Paige’s Chevy has been the volume leader in the marketplace, and part of this success has been your brand’s voice being heard on our station assets. By keeping your current on-air schedule and the digital campaign we have in place, we will continue to reach the right people with the right message. The decision to buy a car isn’t an impulse decision but one considered over time. While the dealership is closed, I promise you that searches for cars online will continue to happen. People will still dream of owning the new 2020 Corvette, the new Blazer, or the new Silverado. Paige’s Chevrolet will be back to business in some number of weeks and when it comes back, you need to have customers teed up and ready to go. So rather than cancel the annual campaign, let’s shift the creative for the campaigns for the next thirty days to something uplifting that helps the community. At the same time, let’s make sure the campaign is going to drive activity immediately when we are back to normal. Then we can resume the original campaign. In order to help, we will give you the next thirty days at a 50% discount.

We should shift your creative with some copy that conveys this message: “Paige’s Chevrolet will deliver a car to your driveway completely sanitized, wait two days to make 100% sure you are happy with the vehicle and then it’s yours. We can do all of the paperwork by phone and over the internet. We have additional specials from Chevy that makes this the best possible time to buy or lease a new vehicle.”

Another approach:

Instead of cancelling, how about we shift 20% of your annual investment to a digital display campaign where more eyes are now due to people staying at home and being online. We will spike activity with an additional promotion. We will “drive” people online to register to have our station Easter Bunny drop off one of our Easter Baskets to lucky winners and their children! The Easter Baskets could contain candy, prizes, etc. and will be delivered to the lucky winners houses in one of Paige’s new Silverado’s (that someone could also win a lease for). We also want to recognize the fact that there are children who can’t be with their families because they are under the care of Children’s Hospital. That is why Paige’s Chevrolet along with our station have teamed up to create “Operation Easter Basket” to make sure that every child at Children’s Hospital receives their own basket, and you can help! Simply visit Paige Chevrolet’s website and donate or schedule and oil change during May and we will donate 25% of all proceeds to “Operation Easter Basket!”

Page: These are great! Let’s do this!

Remember, cancellations right now are fear driven reactions – some more warranted than others – but a good idea using the right mix of radio and digital assets that can help to capture or maintain market share can often save the campaign and position your advertisers for success.

Original version published by CPR Promotions


Todd Kalman
SVP of Sales, Marketron

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