Monday, May 07, 2012

Spot Controversy? A Low Profile May Be Your Best Strategy

If you’ve been on the receiving end of emails and phone calls threatening protests and boycotts of your station because of allegedly controversial spots, it’s easy to envision the worst and want to respond on air with a disclaimer or something similar.

But assuming we’re talking about spots and not something grossly offensive your talent did or said (you need to take immediate action), taking a low profile may be your best strategy. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Many listeners listen with half an ear and will miss the message entirely unless you draw attention to it.
  2. Your target demo might not be offended at all; complaints may be coming from people you’re not targeting or from people who don’t even listen but have been encouraged by other non-listeners to make negative comments. 
  3. Your particular ratings math could suggest little or no impact on your numbers. While it’s easy to imagine hundreds of people stopping listening, consider that a meter may represent 1500-2000 individuals making the value of a single meter significantly greater than the number of people claiming to be offended.
Instead of taking on-air action, draft a short, thoughtful and sincere statement with your GM so staffers will have a single, appropriate response should they be confronted.

No one wants a spot controversy (of course you can say “no” to a buy – see this week’s poll at Sales Café). But if you get one, be prepared to tell your side of the story – off the air.

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