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SYNDICATION 101... The Promotions Department

One area of a commercial radio station that many new hosts/shows will not know about is the promotions department. This department or person is a great place to start becoming informed about and involved in, whether or not your show has cleared the station. "Promotions" people are not quite as cut-throat as the salespeople, at least when it comes to a new host/show that does not have any dollars to spend on the station. (Although, with very small stations, the promotions and salesperson will be the same.)

The traditional purpose of the promotions department is to take advertisers (especially retail advertisers) and create some kind of a fun activity that somehow ties into the spots they are running. A good example is a remote broadcast at a tire store, where the station sets up a tent for their DJ to broadcast from. The listeners hear the tire spots and the remote broadcast, they see the tire store sign, and they maybe even get to see the inside of the store itself. Bullseye.

Using the promotions department for syndication purposes is a bit more non-traditional, however, but it is still quite accepted. The idea is for the host of your show to help a current or prospective station-advertiser decide that a promotion involving your show would be a good idea... and furthermore, that your show would not have to pay for it.

This scenario, usually, works only when your show is already on the station, and thus your host is already known to the audience. The host works with the promotions people and the advertiser to come up with an event that benefits all.

But using promotions to help GET a show on the station in the first place, is much more tricky. The host is unknown, and has no "star power" value to anyone in that market. In this case, you have to rely on your previous experience with working with promotions. By showing your prospective affiliate that you had great success with previous promotions on other (now current) affiliates, and by having the host personally visit the prospective advertisers on location, then you can make a pitch that the advertiser should pay for a promotion which revolves around your show being added to the station.

You will need a lot of help from the station's sales and promotions people to convince the advertiser that your past debuts went over well, and further, that your show is actually great. Plus, the advertiser is going to really have to personally believe in the host after meeting him/her. If all falls into place, you get the station as an affiliate, the station gets a new ad campaign, and the advertiser get to be associated with great entertainment that is being introduced into the market.

The trick to pulling this off is to present it to a large number of stations that have been warmed up to your show already. It will not work if it is the first time the station is contacted, and it won't work if you just pitch three or four stations. Since the odds are against you, not only in clearing the stations but also in getting a third party to pay, you are going to have to work 20, 30, or 50 stations over a long period of time before one comes through.

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