A: No. In fact they cost you audience big-time in the short term. This is a lesson from PPM markets which can be applied to every market where ratings matter.
A Philadelphia station did a three day radiothon during the Fall ARB and saw its AQH audience literally cut in half the first day of the call for pledges and go down even lower in the second and third days!
For me, this doesn’t mean that you need to stop doing radiothons, since they obviously have a positive impact on your brand, given that in spite of these real losses in listening levels during the event, the diary ratings show no loss in listening at all. In other words, the PPM shows that as many as 50% of your audience changes stations while you beg for bucks, but the diary shows that the sample understands that this is a nice thing for you to do so they don’t punish you for doing it by writing less listening in their books.
Recommendation: rethink the way you do Radiothons. Look at how your local public broadcasters do their fund-raising, promising to stop the drive the instant they hit their goal.
Cut the length of your radiothon in half and double the sense of urgency during the drive for dollars, letting the audience know how limited the time is to reach the goal.
One station in the City Of Brotherly Love tried this and raised more money than they did in the last three day radiothon in just over a day and a half.
Consider placing your radiothons at a time of year when they won’t do ratings damage and will give your normal audience a week to return/recover.
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