BRADENTON, Fla. – Sales departments in many markets – and corporate accounting departments across the industry – are aware how important political advertising is as a revenue stream. The every-other-year nature of the political ad cycle plays havoc with annual sales goals but the money that is out there during political season is worth going after and is not just for major or large market, highly rated stations or stations in traditional “battleground” states or districts. Stations of all sizes and corporate affiliation can try to take advantage of some of the tactics used in bringing in political money. Here are some pointers for stations and shows that might have previously believed that they are either too small or “unconnected” to play in this valuable arena.
As if you weren’t well-aware of it, this is a national congressional election year, and it’s going to be a pretty hot one. All of the House of Representatives is up for grabs, as well as numerous seats in the U.S. Senate. There are races for governor all over the country, plus countless local and regional slots are in contention. As you follow the daily news reports, you know that this year’s national issues are extraordinarily controversial. What’s more? There are off-shoots of the major political parties also looking for place to expose their candidates and views. So, it’s all pointing to an advertising war, and early signs of it are already up.
Political advertising can make or break your year. What to do? First check out the local political committees and make your presence known. They’re all going to be begging for media coverage. Learn who the potential candidates are and pitch them now. This includes the aspirants for nominations as well as those who make it as candidates. And don’t forget those local issues that will appear on the ballot. A new firehouse? A schoolhouse addition? Some kind of tax? Most have local committees for and against.
In addition to spot advertising there are a couple wrinkles that have been added to the mix in recent years. One important one is some of that weekend brokered time. This started to pop up during the last national go-round. A half hour or hour where the local political committee could have its own show and parade its candidates through it with extended time to present their stories and positions. You can couple this with a weekday promo schedule.
Then, of course, the internet. The political parties and many of the candidates have or will have their own websites. But traffic to them will be limited. That’s just preaching to the choir. However, station and independent program sites have broader appeal since they offer much more in the way of information and visual entertainment. And packaging together an on-air spot schedule and an ad on the website gives you extra sales clout.
FCC rules and regulations do apply to radio combined with internet political ads, but they do not affect internet-only ads. There is a “however.” FEC, the Federal Election Commission, rules do apply to online ads. And there are a whole load of them. You had better check them out for yourself here or consult with your company’s attorney. Yes, they appear to be a bit complicated, but are worth the bother if you want to gain from all that campaign money that’s available.
And here is a special word to all of those independently syndicated shows, particularly those that are issues-oriented, that struggle for advertising dollars. The year-round public figures and groups come to you to get on your shows to air, defend and promote their views. Now is your time to go back to them. For sure, after the elections they’ll be coming back to you again for some interview time.
So put on your suit of armor, pick up your lance, get into the fray and join the battle. The political ad war is underway!
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.