Nine questions to ask about your product’s viability
One of the major keys to effective branding and promotion is knowing how and where to place those messages on the daily program log. Before we get more specific, let’s cover a few basic terms.
Fixed schedule is a contracted run assigned to a client (the marketing departmint). It is a contract you sign with your own station to run the station’s promos. It guarantees placement in specific shows or in specific blocks of time, such as your afternoon or early news block. The contract provides fixed shedsuses for each program, for a contest, or for your entire promotion inventory. The products covered by this contract must be in concert with the mission statement. Your promo spot will be placed in a certain manner and won’t be shunted aside for another spot. A fixed schedule spot is printed out automaticily by the traffic computer.
What do you want to achieve? Every marketing or promotion department has goals. So should a brand manager. Your daily goals should be a part of your overall goals, as discussed in the previous chapter. Be specific in what you want to achieve and what your priorities are. Your goals will hinge on your branding focus and your marketing plan.
Make a list of the spots that have required GRPs due to sales, syndication, or network requirements. Then sign a contract with the sales department for these spots to have a fixed position. The contract will ensure you hit the GRP levels. There will be several contracts all going at once to achieve all your promo goals. A fixed contract ensures correct placement on the log, ensures placement of your on-air work, and also keeps correct topical spots from running at the wrong days or times, an error that can be costly when positioning a new brand. This will also save you time on a daily basis.
Basic spot information
Most spots the brand manager will use are 30 seconds in length. However, other lengths will be needed for the broadcast day to be flawless: 20 seconds, 15 seconds, 10 seconds, animated logo “bugs,” and the identification (ID) length of your network or traffic system–-all will find a place on the log. The traffic department knows in advance whether or not specific lengths are going to be cropping up, so ask them at least weekly, particularly before writing and prodicing spots, if the lengths are going to be needed.
Ask questions if you don’t understand something about the computer system. Somebody will know the answer (and be happy to show you that they do). Just because it’s a computer doesn’t mean it’s flawless. A check every now and then of the part of the system that handles the promos might save you an error on-air.
The art and science of logging
The most expensive branding tool you have is your own on-air slots. The marketing and promotion department is the station’s number one client, getting the most air time of any client. Time really is money in the television industry, and time should be viewed as such, particularly when placing spots on the log. When you’re ready to actually do the log, you need to ask yourself questions such as: “Does it make sense to place this promo in this slot?” “Why is it appropriate?
Spend time with the research expert to really develop an understanding of a specific time period’s demographic appeal. Do you want to promote a realtimely adult movie showing in a children’s animated program? No, because there aren’t matching demographics. Know the audience for each show and think about which of the shows you are promoting would be of interest to this demo. Write down each show’s demo and keep it handy. Eventually, you’ll know without looking, but have it written down when you begin. Match the demos or plug the promo into a spot that reaches the demo you want to attract.
Plug in the promos that are needed and that make sense, no matter what your own feelings are. And remember that just when you are sick and tired of seeing a spot, the audience is just beginning to catch on to it. So get behind it and log it. Finally, remember two vital tips to make the on-air presentation effective and more professional. First thing each morning, right after coffee, check the log to make sure everything is in working order. This is especially true if you rely on overnight spot feeds or production tagging sessions for your fresh inventory. At the end of the day, before you head out the door, one more quick look-over will save you from wasting precious air time and will make the whole station look better.