6 Tips: Planning, Creating, Marketing, Executing College Radio Campaign


In planning a successful college or indie radio promotional campaign for your band, it comes down to much more than hiring someone or buying air time. Certainly not if you are looking for a successful run and making back the money you spent. Not to mention, being able to convert that time and money into new fans, more sales and networking opportunities. The fact is, according to author Loren Weisman in the following six tips, it takes a well considered plan, one that should be in place prior to your campaign. If executed properly, your plan will not only work throughout the entire campaign, but well beyond it.

By Lauren Weisman

1. It is crucial to research  the options.

If you are looking to a PR firm, radio publicity group or agency that claims they can get you plays or even charting…ask for their references. Talk to former clients who have been with them in the last 12 months. Find out about recent success stories and ask those bands how it worked for them. Find out the exact costs. Find out if they saw a return on investment. Nothing is guaranteed, but did these former clients get gigs, sell music, merchandise and build their fan base or did they just get played a few times? This is the most crucial step of a successful radio campaign. And having someone, or a team, that can help you will take a great deal of the burden off of you. However, understand that you will still need to do a great deal of work.

2. Understand that a chart position and plays don’t equate to listens. 

Anyone can show you a chart position on a radio chart. Anyone can show you play counts, but if those numbers aren’t growing your fan base or converting, they are worthless. Make sure you are setting up a campaign to reach real people and not create meaningless numbers. Focus on the conversion and not the position or play numbers. When you keep your mind set on building the real fan numbers over the play numbers, you are dramatically increasing your chances that those real numbers can convert to profit.

3. Follow up on the people, stations and placing where your music is being played. 

Are you marketing more than just “I’m being played on this station”? Find out who the DJs are and add them to your social media. Find out the popular school sites or radio stations and add them to your “playlist” of cross promotion online. Tag them, and add content about them, not just that you are being played on their station, but information about their station. Cross promotion will result in more promotion of your music. How can you promote these schools, these stations and these people in a way that will draw more attention to you and your music over all the bands that are looking for one-way promotion? By sharing information and posting content to promote a station, you stand out and make them want to reciprocate. Also use social media to connect with various school pages and online groups at those schools.

4. Track the results.

Are you seeing an influx of likes, friends, adds or even booking requests from a certain region? Should you focus more online promotion or work to get a show in that area? Conversely, are you getting plays in a market or school that is not bringing anything back? By keeping a simple tracking sheet on a weekly basis to understand what is working and what isn’t, you will know where to focus your time, your efforts and your promotion. This basic tracking sheet can include the colleges or stations where you are being played and will keep an eye on those that add you and even asking flat out, “how did you find out about us?” Your time spent understanding how your base is building will help you exponentially.

5. Engagement with ads, prizes and giveaways. 

Again, get in touch with those DJs and those schools after a campaign has started and offer up some free physical and digital merchandise. Engage those fans with something beyond just asking for them to listen to you or request you. The engagement of prizes and giveaways gives people a sense of what they can get over the idea of most bands that are inundating fans with “like me, request me, tell them to play me…me, me, me.”

6. Ask yourself if you are ready for a college radio campaign.

Is your branding in place for your band? Are your social media pages updated, active and easy to find? Is your merchandise easy to purchase and are the links clear on where to buy it? Is the information about booking you for a show in place? Are you involved with the promotion and marketing of your group and your music beyond just “we have a show here” or “we are playing here Friday?” The last step before pulling the trigger is to ask yourself if you truly have all the elements in place to either execute (or have someone effectively execute) the best radio campaign possible. If these elements are not in place, it will be that much harder for you to create a fan base and get conversions. Make sure the branding, marketing and promotion of your band and your music is in place before you start a radio promotional campaign.

Setting an example by being active and organized––while others are working with you and for you––will make the chances of a successful radio promotion campaign much more likely. On the same note, if you aren’t ready for a radio campaign, be smart––save your money and start getting your plan together.