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Buying_Media for a Fair, Festival or Event
Orv Graham, Decatur Celebration

We often think only of newspapers when we use the term "media," but it includes much more than newspapers. As you explore the various ways to increase public awareness of your event, include every available medium in your market.

Billboards, signboards and marquees, house organs or company newsletters, even bumper stickers or imprinted ballpoint pens. But the mass coverage of radio, TV, newspaper, and of course the internet should put them first on your list. Your objective is to create "top-of-themind awareness" for your event, so be sure to use the mass media first and foremost.

How much should you buy is a tough question to answer? There are too many variables involved. Some general information might be of help to you though, so here are some points to remember, as you plan your media:

Develop a "specific" plan. We often "generalize," but you need to be specific at this stage.

Know what your "target market" is-who are your best prospects, how old are they, where do they live-any kind of information that would lead you to a correct advertising decision (you wouldn't buy advertising in a media that reaches only rural adults if you were promoting a rock concert).

Know your budget. Every business or industry develops its own "yardstick" to determine the percentage of gross national average of all industries, which is something near 3%, but some industries spend much less than that, and some spend much more. Your budget should be designed around a plan that includes consideration for your total available dollars balanced against the necessity to reach the maximum number of prospective customers with an "effective frequency."

We are all "bombarded" with advertising messages constantly, and in order to have a message really "sink in," we must hear that message repeatedly. Advertising psychologists frequently say that you must be exposed to an advertising message 8 to 10 times before it begins to "sink in." So plan your budget with enough dollars to reach your target market more than once.

Should you really buy advertising? Sure! It's the only way to be sure you'll have the exposure for the event. Find every avenue available for free publicity, but do buy advertising. And be careful to buy advertising from every medium you've asked to give you free publicity.

Many groups go to their local newspaper and place paid advertising, then go to the local radio station and ask for free "public service" time. Be careful not to put yourself in that situation. DO NOT expect one medium to give you free the coverage you're willing to pay for at another medium.

You'll want to look to all media for non-paid publicity, either in "news" or "public service" articles or programs. But, if you pay for advertising in one medium, be prepared to pay in the other.

Free "advertising" is available to you in most every market, and you should work hard to get it. News coverage, special feature stories in newspapers, public service spots on radio and television, telephone talk shows on radio where you or someone from your organization may be a guest. They're all examples of ways to get your message across without spending cash.

To get them, first get to know the "players" in the media. Know the editor or reporters at the newspaper. Know the announcers, news director, program directors at the radio and television stations in your market. Then provide them information that can be of service to them. Remember that they are not in business to serve you; they're in business to make a profit by serving their readers and listeners. If you have information that their readers or listeners would want, you're helping them reach their objective. People in mass media are constantly asked for coverage.

The person who gets the best coverage is the person who best helps the media by providing interesting information. And be sure that all members of the media have the same information at the same time. If you give a radio station some information on Monday don't expect the newspaper to run it if you don't give it to them until Wednesday. (And vice-versa.)

Which media should you buy? First, remember "all advertising works." Whether it's yellow pages, matchbook covers, billboards, radio, television, or newspaper, it works. Remember that we all like to buy things, so we all enjoy more information. We "like" advertising! (Deny it if you want, but it's true. You like advertising.)

For your special event, you'll most likely be dealing with newspapers, radio, and television, so in the next paragraphs we'll address some of the basics for buying each. In each case, you should call or visit the media and ask to speak with an "Advertising Sales Person." That person should have complete information about that newspaper, radio, or television station, and will work with you to accomplish an advertising "buy" to accomplish your objectives.

When buying newspaper, you'll be charged "per column inch." If your ad is five inches tall and fi ve columns wide, you'll pay that newspaper's rate for 25 column inches. Be sure to ask the sales representatives for their discount plans. At most newspapers, the sales representative will handle the layout for you at no additional cost. They'll add borders, pictures from their "clip-art" books, graphics, all at no additional cost to you. But be sure you review a proof of the ad before it's published to make sure the "thrust" of the advertisement is correct for your event, and the information is all free of typographical errors. Plan on visiting with the sales representative at least a week before publication date.

If you're buying radio advertising, you may most likely buy either 10-, 30-, or 60-second spot announcements. Most special event advertisers most often use 30-second spots. A 10-second spot contains something like 16 words, the 30-second spot has 75 to 80 words, and about 150 or so words in a 60-second spot. The cost patterns will run something like this: 30 seconds is about 75% of the cost of a 60-second spot, and a 10 second is about 75% of the 30-second rate.

The station sales representative will advise you as to placement of the spots. You may want "Morning Drive" spots (usually 6:00 to 10:00 AM), or midday, or evening. Or you may buy a TAP (Total Audience Plan) schedule, where the spots are rotated through the various day parts. Or an ROS (Run of Station) plan, where the station puts the spots in its most easily available spot position. Both the TAP and ROS plans usually offer discounted pricing, which may be of value to you. Radio is the least expensive of the mass media, so it gives you the ability to achieve frequency with your advertising.

In an earlier paragraph we discussed the question, "How much advertising should you buy," and the importance of reaching the prospective customer several times with your advertising message. That's what we mean by "frequency." You must reach your prospective customer base with your message with enough frequency to make an impact. Radio's low cost gives you the ability to repeat your message many times, and that helps you achieve the frequency necessary to have an impact.

After you've decided how many spots to buy and in what day part they should be broadcast, you're faced with the question, "How do I write a commercial?" The answer is simple: you don't have to. The radio station will write it for you. You certainly may do so if you prefer, but the radio station will do it at no additional cost to you. And who voices the commercial? In most cases, it's up to you. You may have the radio station announcers voice it, you may voice it, someone on your committee may voice it... it's up to you.

To be effective it does not have to have the best voice in the market, it does not have to have the bestknown personality in the market-it merely needs the ability to tell your story properly. Often a voice other than one normally heard on-the-air at the station will make the commercial stand out from the others. Generally there will be no charge for the production of the spot, and the radio station should have a complete library of background music and sound effects to help with the production.

When buying television, be prepared to pay a much higher rate for the advertising time, and a charge for production as well. Most television signals are regional signals. They cover a broad area... an area which may be much bigger than necessary for your advertising purposes. The result is what's known as "wasted coverage" for the advertiser-you pay for coverage in areas which cannot be of benefi t to you. Many advertisers believe that the cost of the wasted coverage is offset by the extra impact of the combination of the two human senses: sight and sound.

Remember that newspaper is strictly a visual medium; radio is strictly an aural medium. It's safe to assume that if sight can work as an advertising vehicle, and sound can work, too, then combine the two to get the benefi ts of both. Often though, the cost of buying television and producing the spot prevents frequent use of the spot, so you cannot achieve frequency. In most markets, television will be most expensive during the 6:00 or 10:00 PM news, and least expensive during the early morning news programs such as Good Morning America, or in their late night movies.

The sales representative will work with you to build a schedule that fi ts your objectives and budgets. You may buy a 30-second spot, a 60-second spot, in some markets a 15-second spot, in some markets even a 5- or 10-second spot. The television station personnel will write the copy for you and provide a cameraman for visuals, or you may provide everything. But remember, producing a television spot can be expensive, so discuss it in advance with your representative.

You may have co-op available to you. "Co-op" is a term used in place of saying "cooperative advertising." It means that the cost of an ad in radio, television, or newspaper may be shared by another organization. A national manufacturer, for instance, may co-op an ad with a local retailer. When you hear or see an ad for a certain brand of television set for instance, chances are that ad is paid for in part by both the local retailer and the manufacturer. If your advertising includes use of nationally distributed brands, you may have some co-op dollars available to you. Discuss it with the person from whom you purchase the national brands.

Your advertising should not be an after thought. Take it seriously, plan it carefully, and execute your plan.


 

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