Go to School at PROMAX&BDA

As we look forward to the Annual PROMAX&BDA Conference next month, it seems appropriate to address one of the major issues facing promotion departments today: How do we develop or grow our brand and still support the station's sales efforts? Here at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, we've developed a five-step strategy.

1. Sales, news, Web and promotion work collaboratively to keep existing clients and grow existing shares. More important, we all need to help develop new business opportunities.

2. Plan early and plan often. Last year brought us the Olympics and a strong political season. We knew that 2003 would not have those revenue advantages. So, early last fall, our team began to brainstorm new-business ideas. One idea was a year-long "Ohio's Hometowns" campaign in celebration of the state's bicentennial. It involves exposure in our weather segments, in-show billboards, promos and Web elements. We attracted significant new dollars from established clients who don't normally do event-based marketing.

3. Don't reinvent the wheel. Every month, every quarter, every year, we get the same requests for additional promos to help close a deal. Many tend to be from entertainment promoters who do more than one event or show. We created "Hot Ticket," a vehicle that allows us to throw a certain number of simple spots into the pitch. The 15-second spots push the event but are also wrapped with a community-image message. News has also designated a number of areas within our morning and weekend shows that format well for sales exposure but are away from key content areas.

4. We now realize our Web site is as valuable a programming source as it is a new revenue stream. During 9/11 and Target Iraq, we did hourly Webcasts while the station was wall-to-wall with network coverage. We also use the Web to extend our brand, as well as provide interaction with viewers by providing unique content and a chance to "sound off" via polls and surveys. We often pose a question in our evening topical promo and direct viewers to the Web. We then weave those reactions throughout the 11 p.m. show. The stronger our Web site, the more we are able to package it into business proposals.

5. Whether it's night courses, consultants, in-house training or companywide seminars, it's important to keep learning and improving our skills. This year's PROMAX&BDA conference, June 4-6 in Los Angeles, will strive to provide participants with useful, valuable and relevant information that will make a real difference back at home. We hope you can join us.