We will take you through the basic steps for obtaining advertising revenue for your station. At the end of this information, you will find links to other useful sources of information and an invitation to share your thoughts, ideas and resources via our discussion forum. “Whether you are a charity or a not-for-profit company, what you are doing by carrying out commercial activities is offering services, raising revenue, and re-investing this money into your project to promote social gain.” Community Radio Toolkit Chapter 14.
Your advertising policy
For community radio practitioners advertising is not as simple as just selling advertising space but may present you with some ethical considerations. What products you are comfortable being associated withstaff and volunteers’ understanding of the need to advertise and how it sits with the community-related side of the station. How listeners will feel about the advertisinghow to make sure you do not stray from your unique selling point as a community radio in your advertising pursuits.
You can read more about ethical matters in the chapter on Funding in the Community Radio Toolkit.
Preparation #1: Advertising plan
You will benefit from creating a 1-3 year advertising plan for your station; maybe this is already covered in a business plan and just needs expanding on. Here’s some of the content you could include:
- Revenue you are hoping to bring in from advertising
- Establish what mix you’re selling : airtime for spot ads or programme sponsorship, advertising space on your website and/or other forms of promotion
- Identify your target markets. Do you have a niche market? Your community of listeners may help determine who is most likely to be interested in advertising with you. Likewise the nature of your programmes will help attract advertising (eg a Punjabi language show will attract Asian listeners)
- Assess what advertising will be appropriate for which shows.
- Consider what can be learned from past successes and failures when planning your future advertising campaigns.
Preparation #2: Your media pack
Create a media pack with everything a potential advertiser needs to know including:
- rate card – Connemra Community Radio sent us a copy of theirs [see Appendix A]
- information about your station and its listeners
- testimonials from past successful advertisers
- maybe a CD with sample ads for them to listen to
- comparisons with other media (in your favour!) both financial and in terms of appeal
- production issues
Keep it clear and concise.Put a shortened version of the media pack on your website. Here are some examples:
- Radio Tircoed in Swansea http://www.radiotircoed.com/advertise.htm
- Ribble Valley Radio at http://www.ribblevalleyradio.org.uk/sponsorship_and_advertising/sponsors.htm. Listen to RibbleValley’s online recording of their sales promotion – a great way of showing potential advertisers what you can do.
- Seaside Radio http://www.seasideradio.co.uk/advertising.php
Preparation #3: Identifying your targets
Research your potential advertisers by finding out all about the local enterprises you can approach. Include commercial businesses, voluntary sector organisations and public sector bodies, all of which can be interested in advertising on community radio.
- Use whatever links and connections that staff and volunteers’ (and their extended families) can offer to make an approach to a potential client so that it is less of a ‘cold call’.
- Unless you’re lucky enough to have a business development manager or some such role on the staff, enlist staff and volunteers to sell advertising and to consider how they can use any of their links with local enterprises to do so. You might want to include something in your volunteer training to get involved early on.
Making the pitch
Be well informed about a prospective client before you approach them so they are confident you understand their product.
- Make the call. Either way, prepare your opening statement or offer in advance and be confident about your selling of your product, airtime. If an agreement’s not made there and then or the potential client seems unsure, ask to drop by with a copy of your media pack or simply to put it in the post for them to look at in their own time.
- Know what you’re selling: don’t assume that your potential advertisers know any of the benefits of going on community radio eg such as access to sections of the community that can’t easily be reached by other forms of advertising Remember that community radio is SO much more than just radio!
- At a meeting or on the phone, be ready with answers to negative questions and statements about community radio advertising; arm yourself with information about comparative costs for advertising elsewhere (eg local newspaper) or for comparative impact (eg an advertisement lost amongst others in a newspaper).
- When asked about audience size, direct your answer to audience responsiveness, explaining that experience shows that listeners take more notice of messages from a station they feel is ‘theirs’, that they feel close to.
- If they’re completely new to radio advertising, take a CD for them to listen to a couple of (successful) sample ads.
- Offer incentives for first time advertisers or for trial periods. For example, Dave Miller from the Orkney’s Superstation suggestions throwing in ]
- Follow-up phone calls and visits with information in writing detailing your pitch – how you can successfully advertise their product on your community radio.
- Market yourself
- Potential clients got no money to spare
Don’t shy away from being business-like, it doesn’t undermine the social value of your work and will impress potential advertisers. http://www.cbonline.org.au/index.cfm?pageId=15,47,3,458 on page 14.
Creating the advertisement:
Organise a contract or at least confirmation of sale, making sure you have all the correct information about the client and the content of the ad on paper.
- Your clients probably won’t be using a specialist agency to create the advertisement but will need to work with you to do so.
- Have a clear brief when you visit an advertiser, perhaps a pro forma to complete with information covering: their advertising message, their target audience, the tone they want set.
- Create professional sounding advertisements aimed at the listener. Listen to some yourself to see what does and doesn’t work. Work at getting the key message across succinctly. Check out the AIDA model on page 185 of chapter 14 of the Community Radio Toolkit handbook
- the technical process hardly needs to be covered for community radio practitioners! But do try not to get carried away with multi-track wonders and voice effects. The clarity of the message and voice is key.
- Create one or more scripts for your client to approve/tweak. Be clear about the process with them so you’re not tweaking ad infinitum.
- Stick to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) code for radio broadcasters. It protects both the consumers from misleading or offensive advertising and businesses from unfair advertising among themselves. Find out more at http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/codes/radio_code/.
- Clearance is needed on some scripts before broadcast.
- For advertisements on your website, unless you’re simply adding their logo and contact details, send your client a screenshot of any artwork and text for approval. For ideas, check out how other radio stations present their clients’ and sponsors’ information on their websites.
- Balance the frequency of the advertisements so that listeners don’t get fed up with hearing advertisements, for example one or two per hour. Equally, hearing the same advertisement repeatedly can be off-putting.
- Group advertisements so there’s less interruption during a programme.
- Presenters should not feel they have to apologise for the advertisements.
- Try to fit the advertising to the shows with the most appropriate audiences for the product.
- Don’t forget to let your client know when their advertisement is being aired so they can listen in.
You can download a copy of this guide for reading later.