BRADENTON, Fla. — One of the great benefits of attending the recent Talkers New York 2015 conference in New York City was what I call “hall talk.” Between formal sessions and panels it was the chance to meet face-to-face with some of our peers in the halls, in the reception areas, over a plate of tasty delicacies, and discuss the hot sales topics of the day. At this event the subject that kept popping up again and again was political advertising.
Yes, the presidential election is over a year away, but as everybody in talk media knows, national politics is topic A with almost all of the major news stories being related in some way to office-holders, their advocates or opponents. And history shows us that when there is an unusually hot national race, local and regional races are equally as contentious. A good political sales season can turn a so-so sales year into a remarkably profitable one.
We all agreed that it is not too early to lay the groundwork right now. Step one is to make contact with your area’s party committees and keep them informed with a steady stream of all promotional tools you may have such as copies of any press your programs and hosts may have gotten; statistical data that might help to make your case; a compilation of complimentary letters and email. Alert your local news department to send you copies of politically related press releases they have received so you can follow up on their sources. Also check with your program hosts and producers as to who has been in touch with them asking for guest spots.
Another source of revenue beyond the traditional :30s and :60s can come from some of that weekend time reserved for brokered shows. A series of hours or half hours, properly labeled as political, gives the party sufficient time to introduce candidates and to explore its positions.
Keep in mind that many of those people who are running for local and regional offices are political neophytes and haven’t the vaguest idea how to write or present a commercial. There is nothing to prevent you from offering some professional help in construction and presentation which can ease them into a commitment for a schedule.
Beyond just candidates, issues are sure to appear on most ballots and they all have supporters pushing for their adoption. Is it the committee in favor of the construction of a roundabout at a key local intersection? What about the group that is trying to block the county from insect-spraying the region’s forested area because it’s unfriendly to the environment? Don’t overlook these groups. They too are funded and are passionate about their causes.
Politics, candidates and issues are major fodder for talk shows. They can and should be a major stream of dollars for talk sales particularly in an election year. There is a lot to be learned by talking in the hall.
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.