Monday, July 28, 2014

School Closings

It’s time.  NOT do start doing them (yet), but to set up your radio station’s plan and organizational structure for how you’ll handle school closing announcements when they start to happen in late fall.

Contact every school district in your metro area and find out how they notify parents and media when changes happen in their normal schedules.  Come up with forms and web addresses now that will allow you to be first and “right” with ALL the info that your listeners need.

The days of reading lengthy lists of every single school in a radio station service area are long gone, replaced long ago by the crawl across the bottom of the TV screen that made it so that even stations giving the info every five minutes were boring to listen to and yet still most often were beaten by the video screen.  Now, the Internet has displaced morning TV in its leadership role, reopening radio’s opportunity to be “the official school closings radio station” by giving just enough major info to drive listeners to your website, email database/mobile text sign up and social pages to alert them immediately of precisely and only the facts they want and need.

It’s a lot more to accomplish and plan for than the old days, but the opportunity is bigger since every piece of it can also be sold.  For that reason, you’re actually probably getting a LATE start, but you’re not “tardy” yet.  Even if you can’t find a sponsor for all of this in 2014, creating the “(Brand) School Closing Center” this year and working hard to own that image locally will make it easier to sell for what it’s really worth next year.

If you announce school closings on air, place them in alphabetical order, so the list is easy to follow.  If someone who goes to Andrew Jackson school hears you announcing a closing at Martin Luther King School at the start of the list, they will know that their school is open today.

Does your station have a meteorologist or a weather person?  If so, their voice would be perfect for any promos you do for the “(Brand) Official School Closing Center.”  Promise that during bad weather days, you’ll “double” the number of weather updates.

Finally, if you give any school closing updates after 8 am, give the “new” ones FIRST before going into the alpha list you’ve been doing all morning.  Parents who are listening at work will have to make special arrangements for their kids and they’ll appreciate the special treatment.

The key point:  now that this info is available in so many places, from school phone trees and national internet sites, the local medium making it easiest, the most "usable" and high touch WINS.

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