By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Sales managers: Come down off the ledge! While nervous sales reps are REACTING to cancellations as the economy dives, smart sellers are PROACTIVELY turning-lemons-into-lemonade. And canny clients are using radio to sound relevant, helpful, and like we’re-all-in-the-same-boat…
“We want to keep our people working.”
This is a commercial copy point we’re using at client stations, in spots for local service retailers. Another empathy message pertains to restaurants, increasingly restricted to take-out and drive-thru business. They’re really hurting; and I’ve heard several offering gift cards “that never expire.”
In addition to asking Alexa to play clients and personal favorite stations across the USA, I’m listening-local as I self-quarantine at home. And I was impressed to hear these three spots back-to-back-to-back in a single stopset on WPRO-AM, Providence:
- “Manville Palace Pizza, offering free ‘touch-free’ delivery.” You order with a credit card, and they’ll ring your doorbell and leave the pizza there as you come to the door.
- Next ad: Nursing home, a regular advertiser, changed copy to invite children to make cheery greeting cards for residents.
- Next ad: Roofing/siding/remodeling company offers “safe” survey. Keeping social distance, they’ll come to meet/measure/etc. then deliver an online proposal that shows how the finished job will look.
Other tactics I’m hearing as I listen-around:
- Another remodeling company seems to be talking to those cooped-up at home and noticing it’s time for kitchen/bathroom make-over: “Let us show you NOW how your home can look great in time for your holiday guests. We’ll be ready when you are.”
- Banks are announcing no penalties for late loan payments and other accommodations.
- And with cabin fever nudging more toward the restaurant take-out business still allowed: “You can get out of the house, but you won’t have to get out of the car.”
- In a couple markets I monitor, I’m hearing I.T.-to-go nerds asking “Need help setting-up to work-at-home?”
Resonant messages like these aren’t “stopsets” that interrupt programming. Survival information commercials ARE programming, that identifies the station as aware and useful.
Remaining PDs: Are you on-it? Or offering escape-from-it?
A month ago, I got pushback when I sounded the alarm: https://www.talkers.com/2020/03/09/monday-memo-coronavirus-conundrum/
It seemed alarmist to some back then, with Rush Limbaugh comparing coronavirus to “the common cold.” Back to the future: Talk stations are on-it now alrighty, and the three legs to this stool are:
- Latest news on the outbreak. Be listeners’ coronavirus radio button, the first place they hear things like the Olympics are postponed.
- Advice from the experts, real news-U-can-use stuff, i.e., IRS deadline extended, state primary election rescheduled, etc.
- Callers’ stories. Local, local, local.
Listen to how Clark Howard is playing this (like a Stradivarius).
Meanwhile, down the hall, the news/talk station’s music FM sibling can position, also usefully, as listeners’ escape appliance. Last week here, we described tactics for offering an “aware oasis:” https://www.talkers.com/2020/03/23/monday-memo-coronavirus-community/
Great example I heard on “Chicago’s Classic Rock,” Hubbard’s WDRV, a liner that simply offers: “Sometimes the only thing that gets your mind off EVERYTHING is The Music.”
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the e-book “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books. Click the ad banner in the right-hand column on this page for an instant download. And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT