Managing Media in Uncertain Times

Microphone in a radio sound boothAll of our lives, both personal and professional, have been thrown into upheaval with the unprecedented measures taken to try to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Many of us are working from home, and sadly, many are laid off for the foreseeable future. Events have been canceled and businesses that are not “life-sustaining” have closed their physical operations.

What should you do if you have media scheduled to promote an event or advertise your business and you are no longer open? The short answer is “don’t panic.” Here are some suggestions to help.

Many times, media rates are based on frequency: the more ads, on-air spots, or impressions you commit to, the better rate you receive. If you suddenly find your business shut down, try to avoid canceling your media outright. By doing so, you will decrease the frequency and may end up with a short-rate or higher ad cost in the long run.

Ideally, it is best to leave your media schedule in place, but change your message if necessary.  Rather than promoting an event or sale, run branding messages instead. This way you can keep your brand identity strong and stay top-of-mind for when the economy bounces back and spending resumes.

You may be saying to yourself “but my business is not open, I have no revenue coming in, and I have to cut my expenses.”  It may seem hard to believe, but we will return to some state of normal in the future, and you will want to bring in customers when you reopen. Rather than canceling your media, try to reschedule it for a later date. That way you can retain your negotiated discounts while trimming expenses during closure and still reach out to potential customers when you reopen.

Were you planning to hold a seminar or event that now cannot happen due to government shutdowns? Don’t panic and cancel the event. Reschedule it and notify attendees of the new date.    This conveys a much more positive message that life will go on as normal in the future, it just might take a while. Honor all existing registrations, but offer a refund if there was a fee to those who cannot make it on the new date. Any media that you had planned to promote the event should be rescheduled around the new event date rather than canceled.

Maybe you were planning to attend a trade show in the next few months. Perhaps you had read our previous blog “Tips for a Successful Trade Show” and planned media to reach out to your prospects before, during, and after the show. And now, events that draw large numbers of people have been shut down. What about the sponsorships and show-related media you committed to?

Trade shows can be the high point of the year for many industries, and no one involved wants to miss this opportunity. Most likely, the show will be rescheduled later in the year. This may take a while, given the logistics involved, but be patient. The trade show organizers should honor any sponsorship or media commitment you have made. Once the new date is secured, use this opportunity to leverage your status as a loyal sponsor of the show for value-added. Perhaps you can negotiate a product showcase in their e-newsletter or an ad in the show app at no charge.

These are chaotic times, both personally and professionally. I wish I had a crystal ball to forecast when things would be back to normal, but all I can say is that they will return to normal. We made it through 9/11, we made it through the Great Recession, we will make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the meantime, if you need help managing your media, Scheffey is here to help. With 25 years’ experience in media strategy, research, planning, and buying, let us work with you to get through these uncertain times.