As the election ramps up, all corporate support sales reps should feel confident that public media is going to have a banner year. The election year is expected to deliver larger than normal audiences to public media, similar to what we saw in 2016. Combine this with balanced reporting, lack of political advertising, and the qualitative nature of our audiences, and public radio is the place for smart marketers to be heard.
According to Nielsen Research, the 2016 election and aftermath provided the largest audience increase in history. The overall growth of the public radio audience since 2000 has been remarkable and the 2016 election brought even more new listeners, many of whom continue to listen. The expectation is that 2020 will provide another bump in ratings.
For music stations, there are signs that news fatigue has set in… to some extent. It would be smart for music formats of all types to position themselves as havens from the barrage of news and political advertising. Whether it’s classical, jazz, or AAA, music is a force that brings people together. Sponsors should appreciate that in 2020!
What is your strategy?Now is annual-planning time for our sponsors and their ad agencies. Given the 2020 election year, they are going to be working farther ahead to ensure placement. We should be in front of every major agency in each market to make our case, even those who have never bought us before.
2020 could provide a break-through year if we muster our resources and make our case convincingly and based on data. And perhaps, like our audience numbers that bumped up in 2016 and then remained higher than before, these new clients might love what they find in public media and stick around!
Creating a major client presentation to be delivered by both a sales manager and a rep would be a good strategy. Can you invite major sponsors to the station for a multimedia presentation? Would a breakfast or lunch for prospects get some new faces into the building?
Consider how much you’re going to charge for your airtime throughout the year. Do you expect to charge more at some point in anticipation of the demand? Research your sell-out data from past election years to help you determine when demand will be highest. Be prepared and make sure your traffic department is working ahead to see upcoming peak demand periods. This is a team effort!
Annual contracts are the holy grail of public media sales. By working ahead, you have the chance to lay in annual business starting in January to start the calendar year strong. How many of us were bemoaning last year’s tough January and February all the way through June as we struggled to make budgets?
If sponsors book for 12 months, you can afford to give them a break in rates early in the year, and it will rate-protect them later when things get crazy.
Environment is everything
I don’t think you can overstate how exhausted people will be from all the attack ads coming our way in 2020. Public media will be the one place where people can escape from political advertising. Make sure that everyone knows it!