In this section we’ll concentrate on advertising your club, events and when it makes sense to do so. Advertising obviously comes at a cost and is not free as you might get with public service announcements and news stories. Just because there is a cost here, don’t ignore this section thinking that you don’t have the budget for it. You should be aware and understand all of your options for the many items you’ll publicize within your club. I have some great ideas for your club here. I promise this is worth the read. Additionally, I’ve even got some free advertising ideas for you.
By Constance H. Knox
General Manager of CBS10WILM (Wilmington) and 2014-15 President of the Wilmington (NC) Cape Fear Rotary Club
As you develop your club and projects consider setting aside some advertising money. This could be anything from koozie can holders, t-shirts, posters, flyers and table tents to radio, TV, outside billboards, online and print media advertising. All of these options are promoting your club and your end goal in an effort to get results greater than your investment. A well thought out advertising plan can reap huge rewards for your club.
Keep in mind that purchasing advertising along with your PSA and news story efforts will help ensure that your message gets out there (in case neither your news story nor PSA makes the air). Keep in mind that both news stories and PSAs are at the will of the station or organization and you have no guarantee it will run. It is all subject to station priorities and space available. You never know what competition you have out there for the “free” space at the media outlet. Purchasing advertising will help make sure your message is heard when and where you want it.
Just because you buy advertising don’t expect the newsroom or PSA Director to be obligated to run your story/PSA. Ethically newsrooms will not have anything to do with the sales departments in an effort to keep the news unbiased. This makes for a good ethical news organization—the type that viewers trust—the type of organization you want to do business with as well as with whom you want your club associated.
Before we let anyone advertise on our TV stations, we perform a CNA or a “Client Needs Analysis.” This allows us to evaluate the needs, mission, expectations and message of the client. We try to guide advertisers into what is right for them and what makes sense based on their needs and budget. If we don’t think it will work, we won’t recommend it. Our job is to make the advertising work for the client and drive business to the advertiser. If it doesn’t raise their revenue well beyond their investment, they won’t be back. We are very invested in making sure it works for our advertisers.
So here are just a few of the key components that we look at in determining the needs. Be thinking about this with regard to your club, event, project etc.
- What’s your mission with this publicity effort? What is it that you want in the end? This could be raising money at your fundraiser, specific project or increasing membership, etc.
- What is the problem you hope to solve with this publicity?
- What is your time frame?
- What are your expectations?
- What is your measure for success and is it reasonable?
- What is your message?
- If you could say just five short things about your message, what are they? What is absolutely vital (the most important thing) in your message?
- Who is your audience? Who are you trying to reach? What age, gender, income levels or interests?
- Why would anyone care about your message? What will make them think twice?
- What is your budget? Do you have one?
There is a lot more to this, but that’s a great start if you can answer those questions before talking to an Account Executive (media sales person).
Consider frequency regardless if you’re buying advertising or getting your message out somewhere else. Three is usually the magic number. It takes three impressions for someone to take action (if they’re going to take action). First time they see it, it’s informative to the viewer. The second time they see it they consider it. The third time they’re reminded that they wanted to do something about it and may take action.
So let’s say you have no idea where to start. I suggest you contact the sales manager at your local media outlets and create relationships with them. Let them know the answers to all of those questions above. The goal here is to get results. They can guide you based on who you’re trying to reach as to where best to invest your money. They have tons of quality research available that may help provide insight as to where your audience is hiding. They also have creative ideas to help stretch your dollars or possibly help with some advertising that might not cost your organization anything.
Ah “free”… the magic word. Well we all know that there really is nothing without some cost. However, there are options out there they might be a win-win-win for everyone involved and might not cost your organization much if anything at all.
So here’s the “free” advice I promised. This is the take-away… the big secret…
Some of the regular media’s advertisers love “charity tie-ins.” What’s that you say? What’s a “charity tie-in”? A Charity Tie-In is when a regular advertiser wants to be a part of a charity or charity event and might be willing to help pay to publicize your cause. They do this for community good will, to create trust and the extra exposure for their company. The results can be huge gains for the company and the charity. It kind of depends on the situation and advertising campaign—and the hook—but it can be a real benefit to the media, the charity and the sponsoring company.
Here’s an example of how that might work. Let’s say a local furniture store sponsors a contest of some sort for a Rotary club fundraiser. They offer to put up a new living room set as the grand prize and publicize it in their regular advertising on their media buys (free exposure to the Rotary Club). What’s in it for the sponsor? During the contest Rotarians are making sure that the sponsor is getting a ton of publicity by talking about it as they sell lots of tickets, posting it on social media everywhere and constantly. Rotarians are selling raffle tickets; printing posters with the sponsor’s name really BIG on them (more exposure for the company) and the furniture company gets a great reputation for helping this cause.
All of that is great but that’s not the real kicker. The real kicker is the words “free” in their ads. Anytime there is a chance to win something for free, people take notice which is exactly what everyone wants. Also, the bigger the prize you have, the greater the return on investment. Having said that, make sure that your publicity efforts match the size of your prize.
Now the real trick for the sponsor is to drive customers into their store (to give them a return on their investment). The reality is that most companies sponsor for the publicity not necessarily for the charity (although a good cause helps). So perhaps there is another hook or prize for entering at the stores location. Have a Rotary day (service project) at the furniture store parking lot the day they do a Big Sale. Get the Rotarians to come out and support the effort. Bring friends, family, have a hotdog stand, a bouncy house, clowns, a crane flying a huge American flag flying or balloons to show everyone that something big is happening here. The store will love all the attention and I bet you can get most of your items donated.
All of this is publicized not only in the media advertising by the participating sponsor but as a Rotary club; you’re putting out press releases, pushing for PSA time, social media and so on.
Perhaps you try to break a world record in the furniture stores parking lot! If it’s a big enough of an event then it will rise to the level of a news story, and now the sponsor and the club benefit even more. You can’t buy that kind of advertising for a Rotary club.
But wait there’s more! Have a human element. Don’t just give away furniture, but make it worth a human cause. Find the human element in this entire project. Who are you helping? Get their story involved. Are you helping a vet? Kids? Rebuilding a church or what? Don’t forget the real end game here—what you were trying to achieve?
Not long ago, a used car dealership here gave away two cars every year in a charity tie-in contest. He printed tickets and gave them to every charity in town and told them to sell them for $10 each for a chance to win a car and the charities could keep 100% of the money. He asked for nothing in return. The dealership owner told me between the price of two cars and the printing all of those individually numbered tickets cost him over $120,000. He single handedly raised thousands and thousands of dollars for dozens of charities on his $120,000 investments. Every local news organization on television, radio and in print covered the big count down for weeks and weeks. His return on his investment was phenomenal. He also used his media buys to help promote the charity car give-away event that lasted months.
He became the #1 used car dealer in the area at the time. He truly believed in giving back to his community and this was the way he did it. Dozens of charities reaped the benefits of people trying for a chance to win a car. When it was over, his reputation was huge and beyond measure. He became the guy car shoppers felt they could trust, someone parents felt they could send their kids to shop for their first car. His was the car dealership that everyone thought of first when shopping for a used car. By the way, he was a Rotarian.
So the long and the short of it is this: you may not know what opportunities are out there until you talk to a media sales manager. We get advertisers all the time asking us for charity tie-ins. If you can create a relationship with the sales managers of your local media outlets, they might be able to marry you up with a willing advertiser.
Lastly, check with your own membership. You might have a business owner in your club who is willing to be the charity tie-in partner you’re seeking.
Make sure you inquire about online advertising, social media, the media’s website as well as traditional commercial advertising. Don’t ignore the sales department thinking you don’t have money to advertise. They might just be your biggest asset.