May 27, 2015

Publishers' Notes


Subscribe To Daily  Headlines

Streamline Press

Industry Q&A

Radio Revenue

Market Profile

Calendar of Events

Reader Feedback


About Us

Contact Us




First Mediaworks

09/06/04 Wall Street, a.k.a. Mr. Wolfe

Friday morning, Harrison Hill Elementary, Mr. Wolfeís 6th-grade math class: We had a big test, and I didnít know the answers. I glanced to my right, I glanced to my left ó and copied as many answers as I could. All three of us failed that test. Later, I was paddled in front of the class for copying. The humiliation, the F, and a glowing red behind taught me never to copy again.

Mr. Wolfe is needed desperately at the Radio Advertising Bureau. A recent headline in the RAB daily e-mail reads: ď2000 Radio Scripts Now Online.Ē I cringed when I saw that announcement. Copying other peopleís scripts is lazy. Encouraging it is bad for radio. Facilitating it is shameful. (I could almost agree with publishing successful radio scripts if RAB placed a bright-red warning that people should NOT copy the ads, but use them only to stimulate new ideas.)

The spot you copied may be creative, but it probably wonít solve your clientsí marketing challenges. Worse, it probably wonít work for them. For too long, copywriters or AEs have grabbed a spot, changed only the name of the client, put it on the air and watched it fail. How many more advertisers have to say, ďI tried radio and it didnít work,Ē before Radio finally teaches its people to write?

Todayís busy account executive rushes in on Friday afternoon, bangs out a spot in 10 minutes (or copies one from the RAB database), gives it to Production and then begins planning Monday morningís explanation to the client of what went wrong. We are fools to think our average account executive is prepared to write radio copy.

We are in the business of words, but we do not study them. Functional illiteracy is the disease thatís killing radio.

Radio groups are spending fortunes on research to refine their programming, yet they spend nothing to learn how to make ads work. Commercials are the life-blood of our business. Doesnít it make sense for us to study them? The answers are available, but most broadcasters donít realize the nature of the problem: Closing the sale isnít the finish line; itís the start of the race.

Because of pressure to hit goals, todayís account executives sell schedules they know wonít work. In addition, illiteracy is not just a problem with AEs. Most sales managers, GMs, market managers, regional VPs and group heads donít know how to write ads, either. We hide behind the idea that itís Someone Elseís job. Hey, maybe when we locate the mysterious Mr. Someone Else, we can have him explain to Wall Street why weíre not hitting our numbers.

Mr. Wolfe slammed my backside with a paddle when he caught me copying because he knew that I would be less effective in life if I were a copycat. Likewise, Radio is getting its behind paddled, and its glowing red rear is its pathetic share of ad dollars in the marketplace. The difference between us is that I knew my beating came as the result of copying, but radio has never quite figured out why itís being paddled.

Comment on this story

  From the Publisher 

<P> </P>