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Why Radio Stations Should NOT Give Away Cash Contest Prizes

radio promotions Doug Harris

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Doug Harris

Radio promotions wizard Doug Harris explains why most radio stations that give away cash…


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  • Biff November 25, 2011, 8:42 am

    Doug is absolutely right. Giving away cash is the product of promotions departments and Program Directors that are creatively bankrupt. If a station is giving away cash, you can bet the rest of the station is creatively bankrupt as well.

  • Rob Johnson November 25, 2011, 9:35 am

    there’s some validity to that argument. we as an industry need to be more imaginitive. the only reason to do cash contests, however, is to make great promos. there’s no reason you cant do both.

  • Scott MacKenzie November 25, 2011, 9:36 am

    At what point do contests equal spam?

  • CantLeaveAName November 26, 2011, 2:55 pm

    Oh, how I wish I’d had this audio to play for my GM a few years back. We had an argument about a promotion; he wanted to give away “up to a thousand dollars cash” (by either paying off someone’s tax debt or doubling their refund, whichever the case may be, up to a thousand dollars), while I wanted to take about seven hundred bucks to buy airfare and concert tix, plus do a trade on a hotel room, and fly a winner +1 to a show somewhere like Vegas or LA or Chicago, etc., etc. from our small-ish southern market.

    He was banking on not having to fork over the whole amount, hoping someone’s tax debt/refund would be substantially less than the “up to a” thousand he’d agreed to, and “it’s just far more practical to the winner instead of getting a trip and a concert.”

    My argument back was that our promotions shouldn’t always (if ever) be about practicality, but instead about “the experience!”

    Doug’s point was made when the GM went around the conference room asking everyone in attendance at the promotions meeting if they’d prefer to have the trip/show or the cash, and every one of them said “the cash.” However, they ALSO said they would use the cash to catch up on bills. Not much “experience” there. Also not much promotional value. They wouldn’t go back to work after paying their bills to show off pictures of their experience, nor post those pics to Facebook for all the world to see….but if they’d won that trip…

  • Jef November 28, 2011, 12:58 pm

    Hmm…except the two biggest things about client driven radio promo’s are:
    1 – Neither the station promo/program department nor the client appreciate the value of the other’s product…client wants more promos and free ad time and the station always wants an extraordinary amount of product value. And…
    2 – Contest players/winners are more often then not the most unnapreciative and hardest to satisfy people on earth and do nothing but paint a bad picture of our audience to the client. We did a great father’s day contest and gave away a nice package including a $500 Barbeque and the winner went to the store and insisted on being given $500 cash instead of the prize, calling it a peice of junk…which it was not. Friggen nightmare.
    Therefore if they want to give away cash, fine by me…I’m not jeopardizing a buy or harrassing a client and our phones still ring off the hook…

  • Paige December 3, 2011, 4:41 pm

    Money buys promos. Money buys fun. It’s all semantics. You can take $1000 in gas and call it a “gift card” or you can steal the gas off Kenny Chesney’s tour bus and give it away in 5 gallon increments.

  • Estelle Edwards September 25, 2012, 1:10 pm

    In a tough economy, people are going to want to win cash so they can spend the money on anything they want or need. The person listening is not grading the radio station on the ‘creativity of the promotions department!’ This is one blog or forum that has chosen a stupid topic to debate.