BRADENTON, Fla. — With the 2016 national political season well underway, the question remains as to how prepared the sales departments of talk stations and independently syndicated talk shows are? Political advertising can turn a so-so year into a darned-good profitable one. And if the current primaries are a clue, radio appears to be the weapon of choice.
In a recent edition of a daily bulletin sent by the National Association of Broadcasters, it reported that going into the upcoming South Carolina primaries the major candidates have blanketed that state with radio spots. For a stretch covering a little bit more than the past month, the NAB says Hillary Clinton is leading the way for Democrats with, thus far, airing close to 600 commercials. And on the Republican side, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush are well within the same range, if not higher. Why all this interest in advertiing on talk radio? Because it works!
Have you noticed how much general, popular interest has grown in our form of the media? Several highly rated, top TV series — both sitcoms and dramas — have used radio talk shows and their studios as settings for scenes. Numerous newspaper columnists and public figures make a steady stream of references to talk show hosts. I even saw a newspaper cartoon strip recently that used a radio talk show in progress as the basis for its story line. The characters in the strip were at a table, talking into microphones, wearing headsets and making comments to telephone callers. Look familiar?
Aside from national candidates, local and regional ones are beginning to light their own fires. I had a campaigner for state representative come to my door today to pitch her candidate. She left me with a handful of supporting material. Lawn signs are beginning to pop up in the neighborhood. Plus it’s hard to count the number of fliers in my mailbox this past week. As a broadcast sales rep, what have you done to entice candidates to use your station or show?
If you haven’t made your moves yet, it’s time to track down the local and regional candidates around you, get to the political committees, find those advocacy organizations that need voters to approve their various causes. And be sure to offer some guidance in designing, writing and producing commercials. Many of these folks are advertising novices and haven’t the vaguest idea how to use the talk media, but they now know that they should. You can push them to a commitment by lending a serious, professional hand.
The primary season is just underway and will intensify around the country over the next couple of months, and then comes the general election this fall. If we’re reading the tea leaves accurately it promises to be one of the most contested ones in recent memory.
Because of the issues involved this year the national contenders are showing the way with heavy radio ad schedules. Noticebly more people are aware of the political scene and have caught a bad case of political fever. It couldn’t be a better time for talk radio sales to raise the temperature.
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.