Production-212-Logo-1By Dave Foxx

As you sit down to read this column, Christmas and Thanksgiving will be fond memories (for some of you) and it’ll be a brand new year. Many will take this time as an opportunity to make some changes that will hopefully make life better. I have a really simple suggestion that could help you get ahead of the curve in 2006. You might even want to suggest it to your PD or OM so they can work with you to keep on top of your game, and they’ll stay ahead with their work too! (Oh, you’ll be hero for sure!) Your output will increase, as well as the quality of your work. (OK, we’re talking BIG raise!) You will be hailed as the salvation of the station! (Can I get a hallelujah?)

New-YearsSlow down. Let me explain the need first. You know how it is… you get a script from someone that’s about Valentine’s Day. You say, “Omigosh! I forgot that was coming up on February 14th!” Then you start rummaging through all the drops you have stashed away somewhere, looking for that perfect drop for your VD promo. You just heard it a few weeks ago! Damn! Where IS it? It’s SO perfect for this promo! First thing you know, it’s quitting time and you’ve pulled out every hair on your head and still no drop. You haven’t even started on the production.

Here’s a quarter… buy a clue. Valentine’s Day actually happens on the same day every year — even on Leap Years.

OK, maybe you’re better organized than that and you have every drop labeled so well, you can instantly find what you’re looking for. (Right!) Let’s say the Promotions Department (we’ll call him George), asks for a brand new winners bed for the new promotion you’re doing. You spend the next several hours listening to every bed you have in your library for that one piece of music you heard a couple of weeks before that would be awesome for this contest. By the time you find it, you’ve added a nice buff job to your now no-hair hairdo and can signal airplanes that are miles away by flashing light off your hairless pate. (By the way, the bald thing is getting pretty passé now.)

Here’s one more scenario that I’m pretty sure has happened to every last producer on the planet. Your boss walks in and says, “It’s time to gear up for our big summer promotion.” He hands you a piece of paper with all the pertinent details on it and says, “Make me an award-winning promo.” First, all you can hear is the cricket in the corner stop chirping. Your brain is drier than the Mojave Desert at high noon in the middle of August. You can hear the clock now… ticking loudly as you sit there in a complete funk, trying to come up with an idea.

What would happen if you had a program on your computer that would help you and everyone involved in the programming process plan for the future? Everybody would have access to it on the network so that when you have an idea for a promo, you can take a peek at what’s coming up and make a note to yourself on exactly the right promotion the idea will work best on. When you hear a drop that’s just right for a particular event, you can quickly type in a few words that’ll remind you where the drop is when the time is right.

In that same program, the boss can map out giveaways and special station events, insuring that nothing falls between the cracks. When a jock has an appearance at a club, it gets thrown into the program, allowing the Promotions Department (you remember George) to make sure that people aren’t double-booked. When the PD gives you the heads up on a promotion, you’ve actually already thought about it and have a decent plan of attack. (Whoa! Now that’s way cool!)

You ready to get started? Good. Open up Excel right now and create a spreadsheet called The Master Plan. (You could call it anything. The idea remains the same.) In column B, row 1, type in January 1. In column C, row 1, type January 2. Now you can highlight both cells and grab the little drag button on the lower right side and drag it out across row 1 until you see December 31. A column for every day of the year…what a concept! If you want to make it fancy, in column B row 2, enter the word Sunday. Now grab the little drag button and drag it out across the second row and now you have the days of the week aligned with the dates in the first row. Now, in column A, row 3, enter the word ‘Event.’ Do the same thing in column A, rows 4 and 5 because there will often be a few different events happening on the same day. Then, just to make things even more interesting, in column A, rows 6 and 7, type in the word ‘Promo.’ In rows 8 and 9 type the word ‘Giveaway.’

Now scroll across the columns until you get to February 14th and on the third row, enter the words “Valentine’s Day” in the first ‘Event’ row. Stay on the same row and go back to the previous Friday column and enter “Valentine’s Day Flyaway.” Highlight the Friday, Saturday and Sunday columns in the same row and click on the Merge button in the Formatting Palette, under ‘Alignment and Spacing.’ You’ve just scheduled your first promotion! Scroll back a few columns to Sunday, February 5th. Enter the words “Super Bowl XL.” You now have the beginnings of a master planner. Fill in whatever other holidays you typically do promotions around for the rest of the year. Now save it.

I’ve provided an illustration which is a mock up of pretty much what I’ve described here, with a few extras thrown in just to give you some ideas of the kinds of things you can add. (Go to to see it. Click on “Highlights”.)  Actually, you can add just about anything that’s related to programming and promotion.

Save it somewhere where everybody can open it, look at and edit it. (You might have to consult with your IT person [George’s brother], to get it set up correctly.) Once it’s there, invite George and your PD to jump in and start planning on it. Invite anyone who has input to the process to kick in too. (I wouldn’t invite your wife or mother though. Some really embarrassing stuff could show up on it, like your appointment at the fertility clinic.)

Now, I’m generally one of those “I hate meetings” kind of guys, but you should schedule a meeting once or twice a year, to brainstorm promotion ideas together, while somebody scribes onto The Master Plan. Have a much smaller meeting once a week to talk about everything that’s coming up over the next couple of weeks. It doesn’t have to be one of those boring, drawn out affairs. Just talk business and toss around some ideas. A half hour should generally do it.

NOW, what happens when the time comes to produce? You simply open up The Master Plan and check for any notes you (or anyone else) stored along the way. The ideas are already there. George added the sponsors. All you have to do now is write everything down in some cogent way so that you can make a promo. Now there’s no more desert, no more crickets, and no more staring at an empty document on your desktop. You’re a blooming genius! The boss walks in and offers to double your salary. People begin to genuflect as you walk by. The local church offers to change their name to The First Church of Station Salvation.

Or not. Maybe, you just get to go home at a decent hour that week.

Oh… my audio cut on the RAP CD this month is a promo I designed for Z100’s Jingle Ball 2005. The idea came from a Christmas card I got last year after I had already done the promos for the 2004 show. Yeah. I made a note to myself in my planning spreadsheet. Pretty cool, huh?