Radio Station Contest Prizes – Radio Station Branding
by Dan O’Day

One of my blog readers writes:

“Today I received a memo from my Market Manager and my Office Manager concerning mailing prizes — certificates to restaurants, etc.

“The new policy is to have the listener pick up their certificates at the station no matter where they live. With our signal, for some of our listeners that’s a one-hour drive.

“If they cannot pick it up, the on-air personalities are required to ask them to mail a self-addressed stamped envelope in order to get their prize.

“Or as a PD, I have the prerogative to mail them out at my own expense. I have chosen the latter. Certainly an all time low for corporate radio. What are your thoughts on this?”
My thoughts?

The people who made that rule are idiots.

Office Managers should not have the authority to make such rules — with or without the Market Manager.

In fact, let me modify my initial response:

The Market Manager is an idiot.

The Office Manager simply shouldn’t have been involved in this decision in the first place.

There are only three possible reasons your station is giving away low-rent prizes like restaurant certificates:

1. To offer listeners a fun bonus for listening; to enhance the relationship your radio station has with its audience.

2. To please a sponsor, who either made the giveaways part of a larger advertising commitment or who “asked” the station to give them away.

3. To satisfy a desire on the part of Programming to “give stuff away” because….Well, that’s what radio stations do, isn’t it?

If it’s Reason #3:  You need a better reason.

If it’s Reason #2:  If your station can’t afford the envelope and postage stamp, build that cost into the sponsorship package. Figure out the price of a stamp and an envelope, multiply that sum by the number of prizes you’re forced to give away, and add that amount to the sponsor’s contract.

If it’s Reason #1:  This is “branding” at its worst. Instead of strengthening your relationship with your listeners, you’re actively damaging it.

Time is everyone’s one non-renewable resource. It’s the one thing none of your listeners has enough of.

In order to receive the prize you’ve offered, it’s not enough that they were the right number caller with the correct answer to the trivia question. You also expect them to give up more of their time than the prize itself is worth.

Look at it this way:

Some friends are stopping by your house this afternoon. You think, “I guess it would be polite of me to offer them some snacks. But the only food I have in the house is spoiled, and if they eat it they’ll get food poisoning and become violently ill.”

If the only food you are able to offer will make your guests sick, I strongly suggest that either you get some better food…or you don’t offer any snacks at all to your guests.

This isn’t an example of “corporate radio.”

It’s an example of stupid radio. Of people who just don’t understand why it’s not a good idea to give their guests food poisoning.

Dan O’Day is internationally known as “the radio advertising guru.” O’Day has helped radio stations, ad agencies and business owners/entrepreneurs in 36 different countries create advertising that produces money-making results. O’Day, author of PERSONALITY RADIO ( is considered to be radio’s leading air talent coach, specializing in…personality radio. O’Day also is the author of the e-book, GREAT RADIO PROMOTIONS AND CONTESTS, which can be downloaded from

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copyright 2010 by Dan O’Day