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Promotions Planning: Promos and Liners

Promos are an important part of any promotion, and particularly major station promotions. A promo should run often enough to create anticipation and awareness but not so often that it becomes irritating. Keep in mind that listeners spend less time listening to your station than do members of the staff. The creativeness of the promo, the qualify of the production and the nature of the promotion will all affect how much air time you can give promos before they become irritating.

Promos to pre-promote the contest don't have to be as bogged down with details, so they can and should be very creative. You can get away with less freshening. However, if done right they are an entertainment element, and become part of the station's personality. So you will want to keep them fresh, even if you don't have to.

Hard sell promos, loud promos and funny promos all have a shorter life because they are easier to notice and remember.

(usually creative, heavily produced, prerecorded)

  • Creative, heavily produced recorded promos
  • Contest tease promo (run before contest begins)
  • Contest promos (run during the contest)
  • Post-promotion promos

These promos should always be a part of a major promotion. They are optional for a day part promotion.

The promo should run hourly for one to two weeks ahead of a major station promotion.

These promos will allow you to clearly communicate both the details and the emotion of the promotion in a precise manner not easily achieved solely by liners delivered by the air talent.

Some promos will deliver details about the promotion in a creative way. Others will be winner playback promos that will emphasize the emotional appeal of the promotion.

These promos will run hourly for the duration of the contest. For a smaller contest, there may be no promos. If there is, they most likely will run only outside of the hours when the contest runs, and will run every hour to every other hour, depending on the strength of the promotion.

For many promotions, some of these will be winner promos. Every contest qualifier and winner should be taped with the idea that this will be used for winner promos. It is important that the on-air talent allow the listener to emote without interrupting him/her or over-hyping. Production of these winner promos should normally begin airing with the second day of the contest and should be updated daily after that.

Promos should be refreshed every 3-4 days.

To avoid confusing listeners, music beds or other production aids can be maintained, while the copy is reworked. Even if you're saying the same thing, saying it in a slightly different way will help you refresh the message.

As long as the benefit is worthy of the hype, listeners will be receptive and interested in your promos (and liners). It is important that you not violate that trust by over-hyping the promotion. It is okay to do promos that are tongue-in-cheek or self-deprecating, or which are otherwise a little unusual. These kinds of promos can be very effective if they are truly entertaining, and are not utilized too much.

Promos offer the advantage of superior writing, clear focus on the listener incentive and benefit and on being concise. They can also enhance the entertainment value of the station through their humor and production values.

After the end of the promotion, a wrap-up promo, reminding everyone of everything you gave away, all the fun that was had, etc. is tagged with a “…and wait until you see what's coming next!” line, making a specific listening appointment for the next major announcement.

There is nothing wrong with this promo referencing the last three or four contests, in addition to the one just ended. You can sound proud and happy about the fun you've had together with your listeners.


Live liners offer the advantage of enthusiastic endorsement by the air talent, and can personalize the message in ways that a recorded promo cannot.

Twenty minutes before the contest, you will announce that it is coming up.

(solicit listener call, contestant on-air…)

You will solicit calls (unless listeners are listening for a sound) and you may or may not air the contestant. If there is an entertaining interaction then the call should be aired. If there is not an entertaining interaction then most likely the promotion was poorly designed!

This is usually used when the contestant is not aired. You can congratulate the winner or announce the fact that there was no winner. You should end with “Keep listening for your chance to win, coming up within the next (few) minutes!”

This is a part of single daypart and ongoing contests. This liner will run hourly during the daypart preceding the day part airing the contest. It should run once every four hours otherwise. This is the type of liner like: “Keep listening for Joe Midday who'll give you another chance at 10,000 Euros!” All regular promotional features of the morning show should be cross promoted once per show (every 4 hours) throughout the day.

(more detailed information, similar to the information in a produced promo)

You can get away with supporting a contest entirely through produced promos. However, liners that echo the same emotion and information as the promos can serve several useful purposes.

  • They add a human element, as they are communicated by the air talent, without the production.
  • They give the air talent a role to play in the contest, and another connection between them and the listeners.
  • There is an opportunity to emphasize some particular facet of the contest and interject the air talent's own personality into the contest.
  • It is another opportunity to get the message out.

How do you raise the excitement level on the station, help the listeners realize something special is happening, but not interrupt the programming? You make the contest part of your station's personality.

Don't do this with anything less than a great promotion. But when there is a major promotion underway, that fact should be part of your basic identification, right along with the station's name, at least four times an hour.

There are as many ways to do this as there are promotions:

  • “ 6:35 at double-cash KRIZ”.
  • “ Heart FM, your official Beatles reunion station”.
  • “The new Phil Collins is next, on the station that sends you on a Hawaiian vacation, Mix FM”.

Summary of promo and liner frequency:

  • Pre-announce/tease promos every two hours 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Promos hourly during the contest.
  • Post-contest promos every two hours 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Liners ever hour the contest does not run.
  • Contest hours: live talk / liners to tease, solicit and congratulate (or at least resolve), 3 talk segments per hour. Brevity counts

Promos as with major promotions, but only during the target daypart.

Liners: every other hour, but hourly during the preceding show and during the target daypart.

Contest hours: like talk / liners to tease, solicit and congratulate (or at least resolve), 3 talk segments per hour.

  • Handle with liners only.
  • Liners are treated as a “reason to listen” cross promote. Run one per daypart, and one per hour in the four hours preceding the ongoing promotion.

Done correctly, the promotion and execution of the ongoing time specific promotions can make it sound like a lot of interesting things are happening on your station, establish daily listening habits, and make it easier for people to remember their listening when contacted by a ratings firm.


More ideas and information on this topic:

Promotions Planning: Types of Promotions

Promotions Planning Checklist