Activating Radio Schedules: Negotiating Promos & Event Activations

By Susie Brown
Image of boombox floating on rainbow with hands made out of money shaking.

Negotiating radio promotions and event activations can be a crucial part of your marketing strategy, especially when marketing toward ticket sales and driving traffic to your own client events. Beyond placing a typical spot buy with local radio stations, you can stretch your dollars further by taking advantage of radio promotions and negotiating this up-front as part of your cash buy. You can maximize added value and efficiency from a media standpoint and it’s a better position to negotiate from before placing an order for a media buy. The promise of dollars is always more appealing than dollars in your pocket.


First know your audience before you reach out to any vendors. Understand your target audience and identify radio stations that cater to that demographic before requesting proposals. Know your client and if they are open to trade opportunities or ticket giveaways. Have an idea beforehand of the best timing for any station appearances on site or any promotions on air. Know client preferences on station talent, who they have worked with before and if they want to work with them again. Keep notes from year to year to reference and note as leverage for promotions negotiations the following year/season.


Research the station. Gather info about the radio station’s format/programming, popularity and audience reach to make sure they align with your event. Know their past and current promotions to help identify what will work well. Don’t get all your water from the same well. Start by requesting information from the station of course but use other sources to research as well. Remember that the station’s goal is to show you data that will paint their station in the best light possible. In short, they are competing for sales with other stations in the market.


Communicate clear objectives. Set up calls with station sales reps AND the head of the promotions at the station. These positions often reside in different departments with different objectives at radio stations. Getting all parties on the same page when discussing expectations with clearly defined promotional goals and objectives can help avoid headaches or missed opportunities. Having a clear purpose will help guide your negotiation strategy for your event activations.


Build Relationships. Establish a relationships with the station’s promotions and marketing team. Personal connections can enhance your negotiation process. Develop different promotional packages based on your budget and goals. This could include a mix of on-air mentions, social media promotion, and event coverage. Be flexible to use each station’s strengths instead of creating a cookie-cutter promotion to run on every station in the market.


Negotiate and Get it in Writing. Be prepared to negotiate terms such as the frequency and timing of promotional spots, the duration of the promotion, and any additional services offered by the station. If any tickets or trade are involved, be sure you communicate with the client and promotions during the campaign to ensure all tickets are delivered and distributed as negotiated. Discuss metrics and tracking mechanisms to evaluate the success of the promotion. This can include tracking codes, unique URLs, or specific discount offers for radio listeners. Make sure that all agreements are documented in a contract! Clearly outline the terms, deliverables, and any financial arrangements.


After the event and end of radio campaign, be sure to follow up with the station to express gratitude for their support. Share any positive outcomes and discuss potential future collaborations. Remember that successful negotiations often involve finding a win-win scenario for both parties. Be open to compromise, and don’t be afraid to walk away if the terms aren’t favorable. There are always other fish in the sea and there are always other station groups.


As you can see, the whole radio negotiation process is confusing and complex with lots of moving parts and personalities to wrangle. It can be time consuming to manage vendors alone even with the media expertise. Redroc can help maximize your dollars upfront during negotiations and manage promotions and your event activations while campaigns are running so clients can focus on their business and not vendor relations. Contact us today!

SUSIE BROWN is the Media Buyer/Planner at Redroc Austin. She is a traditional media expert with over 20 years of agency experience negotiating local spot broadcast, cable, OTT, radio and digital audio; focusing on building partnerships with vendors and efficiencies for clients.

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