By now you’ve probably seen the terrible pictures of the damage from Hurricane Sandy to the East Coast. Before we talk about using trigger events on the radio, I’d like to remind you that you can give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by texting REDCROSS to 90999. This donation helps people specifically affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and tornadoes. You can also make a donation in any amount you choose through this link.
During a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, radio is the most effective medium for getting emergency information out to people and relaying important details about a storm or an evacuation order. After the disaster has passed, the need for communication does not diminish and radio continues to play a vital role. In areas without electricity, radio is highly portable and can be accessed by hand-held, battery powered devices or through gas-powered cars and trucks. Radio messages can be written and read live or recorded and put on-air instantly. They can also quickly transition to the most important issues. For example, CBS Radio in New York and Northern New Jersey spent several days telling people where they could go to find gasoline. Radio is both a utility and a critical lifeline.
For commercial use, radio can adapt to rapidly changing situations more quickly AND with more reach than any other form of media. This includes television, digital advertising, and social media. While Twitter and Facebook may be faster in some cases, there is no question their reach is limited, especially during events like Hurricane Sandy. This combination of speed and reach provides unique benefits to businesses that want to make their services available quickly.
Radio can also be precisely targeted to geographic areas and demographic segments through smart media planning. Companies like Home Depot, Geico, Allstate, Bank of America, and Citizen’s Bank each used special messaging in the hours following the storm to reach people that needed their services. And Geico and AllState actually have emergency ad budgets that were used to purchase spots in affected areas.
A trigger event is not always a natural disaster and does not even need to be weather related (although they are very often used during snow storms and heat waves). A drop in the interest rate could be used to encourage mortgage applications. A sports team winning, losing, scoring a certain number of points, or achieving a goal could be used encourage trial of a new product. Taco Bell gave away samples of their new taco with a stolen base in the World Series. A company opening a new division or re-starting a factory could be used for recruitment or a job fair. Whatever the event may be, every business should know what causes their customers to buy and use their services and should make use of each situation as it presents itself.
If you’d like to learn more about planning and budgeting for your trigger events or talk to us about how you can improve your use of radio, please send us an email or contact us. And if your business was affected by Hurricane Sandy and you’d like a free consultation, let us know that too. We’re ready to help.