Keeping Business As Usual

In many markets, the next six months will be booming for both the Issue-Oriented and the Political advertising categories. I love the fact that television always becomes the media battleground every time there’s an election to be won.
There’s a reason that political candidates (and their supporters) rely so heavily on television advertising. It works!
In theory, that should make all of us who sell TV commercials happy, right? But in reality, rumors of a huge political spending year can actually scare some advertisers away from spot TV during the months ahead...and into the eager hands of our local competitors in radio, print, and transit advertising.
That’s why now is the time to plan out the rest of 2004 for your regular clients. You can accommodate both camps in the months ahead—but it’s going to take advance planning. Here are a few ideas to help you do this:
New On-Air Sponsorships: Most stations air billboard sponsorship announcements. These are often secured for the entire year at the beginning of the calendar year.
There may be room to add more of these opportunities to your station’s available inventory. For example, if master control is “padding out” :04 station IDs to fill :09 on a regular basis, you’re effectively using only :74 of a :79 break (:70 commercial time + :04 legal ID). So put those precious five seconds to work!
I’ve seen :05s sold, but if that’s not on your agenda, a rotating :05 sponsorship billboard may be of interest to a client in exchange for their new annual commitment. That’s right—I said annual. Who says that “annual” deals have to begin in January and end in December?
Use :10s & :15s: Candidates are going to use :10 and :15 commercials. While stations have some commercial breaks formatted to naturally accommodate those shorter lengths, most time slots are available in increments of :30. When someone buys a :10 in those, the station has two options: 1) to combine them with other short spots to fill the 30 seconds, or 2) fill the remaining time with a station promo or a PSA.
Plan ahead! Your client’s spot could be the one paired with that odd :10. If you have any influence over your client’s creative, you owe it to them to at least have a generic spot available to air in both :10 and :15 durations.
Heavy Up November 3-7: I can just see it now...the agency planner is studying the fall calendar. November 2 (Election Day) is staring back in bold type. “Let’s start your big holiday push the week of November 8—that way we won’t have to deal with political...”
Well, that’s one way to look at things. Personally, I think there’s greater opportunity in making sure you have a BIG presence in the news on November 3, when the public is tuning in for the final results. Plus, the five days following Election Day can be the proverbial calm before the Q4 storm, so advise your clients to make the most of it.
I’m sure that some people in the industry see the upcoming elections as an opportunity to command premium rates for their most desirable commercial inventory on a regular basis until Election Day. That’s OK—that’s how supply and demand works. However, it’s no reason to cast aside the steady, reliable clients of years gone by. You know...the ones you’ll suddenly want to have back on the air after the last ballot has been cast.
Now is the time to create a strategy for your clients that ensures their steady on-air presence with you throughout the rest of the year. When you do, you’ll be helping your client, your station, and yourself.