Wait, what? Now we’re marking seasonal milestones by the change in Starbucks drink flavors? (In my best Charlie Brown voice), “Good grief — we’ve officially become a Starbucks society.”
Well it’s no wonder. After all, we spend so much time there. For me, Starbucks is like my second office, especially when I travel. I have meetings there, I plug in there, I unwind there. Wireless, caffeinated bliss.
In fact, when I’m not there, I kind of wish I were there or I find myself wanting something from there. Something in a tall, warm, cozy cardboard cup of comfort! It’s almost as if I’m … addicted. Which got me thinking: Could Starbucks be the millennial form of smoking? Let’s see:
- We crave it.
- It feels good just to hold it.
- We usually leave the office to have it; some of us even “sneak” it.
- We’re grumpy when we don’t have it.
- We’re pretty sure it’s bad for us.
- What used to be filtered, menthol, slim is now decaf, skinny, no whip.
- It’s about a $5-a-day habit.
So there you go. Starbucks is the new cigarette. The good news: there’s no second-hand mocha. What a relief.
Consider Boom for a project this fall and coffee is on us!
Here are some of Boom’s “down and dirty” do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when reaching out to guest bookers at television and radio stations. Some may seem simple – but always worth a revisit:
- Know Your Media: In the internet age, it is easy to check out a station and get a feel for who and what they book. Do take the time to figure out what type of guests and topics they are usually interested in before making that initial pitch.
- Contact Preference: There is no harm in asking contacts their preferred contact method. You will find that some contacts still want to hear the pitch and others want to quickly go through e-mails to vet potential guests. And, still others want an e-mail and a call to alert them to the fact you sent one. Each contact you have is an individual – be sure to treat them like one.
- Pitch Window: Figure out the best time to pitch the contact. Some have morning meetings before their show and others after the show. Be sure to know when they are available to listen and really hear your pitch. And, know when they leave for the day. For the most part, the bulk of our outreach to morning news and morning drive happens well before noon.
- Pester: The squeaky wheel does not always get the interview. Many times, when bookers do not get back to you it is their way of saying, “No thanks!” As much as you try you will not always be able to get feedback as to why a producer/booker is not interested in the segment you are pitching. It is always important to follow up and check in with contacts but there is a fine line to walk when reaching out to media. So be careful that your continued outreach does not border on stalking so you don’t burn any bridges.
- Ignore Deadlines: Don’t call 5 minutes before your contact’s show goes on the air. They are on a deadline and will not have time to talk with you and will likely be irked that you didn’t know this would be a bad time to reach out to them. And, always answer their questions as quickly as possible – any delay could mean ultimate disinterest in the segment.
- Offer a Commercial: Stations make money from selling ad space and are not happy to be pitched overtly commercial content. This will reflect poorly on the client/product you are pitching as well as may hinder success for you when pitching other content down the road.
- Bait & Switch: This is one of the biggest (and angriest) complaints we receive from producers – that they are offered a very interesting interview and then when they go live it turns into a commercial segment or worse: something uninteresting and unappealing to their audience.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
But…would it? Today’s branding experts might argue with Shakespeare that the name might actually influence the smell after all. I mean, it’s all perception right? Image? Association? We want to associate with brands that we feel represent us, say something about us, possibly even define us. At Boom, we don’t claim to be branding experts, but 10 years ago when it came to deciding on a name for our company, we felt strongly that it should be something that not only stood out in our industry, but really captured who we are and how we work and maybe even communicate what you could expect when you work with us.
We started with the brainstorm…we asked around for one word answers to “what makes you want to work with an outside company or agency?” We had some great responses: honesty, great results, price/value, likability, efficiency. But one sentiment really came through consistently: we want someone who will do what they say they will do.
We liked that. We liked that a lot. Because when we asked ourselves what was the impulse to go out on our own, we realized that this sentiment was a contributing factor. We were frustrated with our own environment at the time. We were a bit bogged down in process and bureaucracy and politics internally that often made it impossible for us to “just get it done” for our clients. So the brainstorm naturally flowed: what do we want our clients to know, to experience, to feel like when they come to us. The answer: that we get the job done. You tell us what you need, BOOM, it’s done. No unnecessary back and forth,no extra meetings, no series of conference calls. Get to the root of what our clients need. Ask the right questions, float the solution, and you should naturally get the BOOM.
While Shakespeare clearly got it right when referring to Juliet, we’re not so sure his hypothetical applies in today’s competitive world of branding. We hope our approach to client service and appeal would be just as strong if we were, say “the broadcast media relations company, inc.” But we’d rather stick with what we’ve got…after all,everyone needs a little Boom now and then.
What’s music to my ears? A PSA Director telling me, “We are running that one as of today.” Those are words I want to hear from every television PSA Director.
Television generally is the most sought-after PSA medium; therefore, it’s the most competitive. And TV PSA Directors are looking to weed out (read: throw out) PSAs because they tell us they are inundated with requests for airtime! I sit on pins and needles waiting to find out if a PSA Director will air one of our PSAs. I want to and strive to make every PSA campaign a home-run.
So what factors can stop a TV PSA from reaching its full potential? Here are a few most common reasons:
- The timing of the PSA could be off
- The PSA message might not resonate with the PSA Director and the station’s viewers
- The station just received and has started running a similar PSA
- The PSA Director is understandably overwhelmed with all the PSAs he/she is receiving and does not have time to review/air them all
As you can see some reasons for rejection aren’t always in our control – while others are easily fixable issues:
- Good production quality
- Preferred format
- Proper presentation of the PSA
We pride ourselves on finding out ahead of time what a station’s requirements are – never sending a PSA without knowing the rules and guidelines of the station first. In other words, you want to know what the local rules are before you take to the field.
There is one issue/rule that is like Kyrptonite to some PSA Directors. A corporate logo. “Dun…dun…dun” (put in for drama effect only).
Some TV stations have very specific requirements for TV PSAs. If there is a corporate logo in a PSA, it will get rejected out-right and for that reason and that reason alone. Many stations say right on their website: “It is the policy of our station to limit logos of a Public Service Announcement to the retaining foundation or non-profit organization only. No commercial or for-profit company logos will be accepted on a Public Service Announcement.“ Some stations/networks fervently believe that a PSA message is not a forum for corporate sponsors to advertise or sell their brands or services. PSAs with corporate logos are seen as commercials by some PSA Directors.
In fact, don’t even send a TV PSA with a corporate logo to these stations and waste their time – they won’t be pleased! This is regardless of what the PSA is about, what celebrity is in it, or how well produced it is.
But, I am here to tell you that a corporate logo on a TV PSA is not a death knell. We understand that sometimes it is not feasible to remove the corporate logo and work with our clients to create successful campaigns even with a restrictive logo.
While we all know that television stations will broadcast PSAs for free that doesn’t mean that PSA campaigns are free. And non-profits typically don’t have deep pockets so they look to corporate sponsors for help – we get it. And, corporate sponsors enable non-profit organizations to provide important care and community services throughout our country and take us one step closer to finding cure for diseases, increased awareness of safety/health issues, etc. “It’s the classic “win–win’ situation. The corporation gets credit for being a good citizen, while [nonprofits] receive support to accomplish good things in the community.” Society for Nonprofit Organizations, 2011
As a result, some non-profits are understandably beholden to corporate sponsors and are required to put the corporate sponsor’s logo on a TV PSA that they funded. This does typically affect the amount of stations and resulting airings for a TV PSA; however, if it’s a well-done PSA on a relevant topic, it will have stations across the USA air it.
There are many TV stations that do not have a “no-corporate logo” policy. Different stations have different policies for approval of PSAs. There are many stations that will air a TV PSA with a corporate logo simply because it’s a relevant, timely topic in a well-produced PSA. We have even had TV PSAs with logos air on stations that claim their policy is not to air PSAs with logos. Shhh!!!
So, if a corporate logo must be on the PSA and sometimes it MUST be (and we can’t say that we won’t counsel the client to remove it and/or have the non-profit and corporation create a non-profit entity to distribute the message to get greatest ROI), we work to make it the most successful campaign it can be and we have had many successful PSA campaigns with a corporate logo on the TV PSA. We have great relationships with TV PSA Directors and know the stations and networks that are willing to review a TV PSA with a corporate logo.
As the saying goes, “It’s better to try and fail than never to have tried at all.”