Does Your Media Rep Matter?

Dan O’Day recently posted the story of a gift store owner who was making a potentially-extremely-costly decision. He was about to prominently feature this mistake in his radio ad. The mistake was an obvious one, but neither the owner nor the station Account Executive noticed it.

Luckily, the production director spotted it in the copy, and pointed it out to AE, who called the client. Crisis averted.

The story generated a lively discussion in the comments section about what a media rep’s job really is.

There are some advertising buys where it doesn’t matter who books the order — the campaign’s already done, the copy’s already written, and all that’s left is negotiating the price and doing the paperwork.

There are other times where it really matters who your rep is. This story involves one those times:

A Portland auto dealer decided on Thursday afternoon that he wanted to be on the air by Saturday. He doesn’t write copy, so he told me what the offer was, and I got to work.

  • Wrote a script, sent it back to the dealer, who approved it.
  • Sent it to the manufacturer for co-op approval. Learned that the factory had changed the co-op rules on January 1 (the dealer hadn’t mentioned this). Required language now much longer.
  • Removed some copy to make room for the longer co-op language. Resubmitted to the manufacturer.
  • Sent it to my contact at the Oregon Attorney General’s office to make sure there wasn’t a problem with the dealer’s offer. There was a problem.
  • Called the dealer to discuss the AG office’s concerns. Called the AG’s office back to discuss possible solutions. Called the dealer back and convinced him to change the offer and avoid a big fine.
  • Rewrote the script. Resubmitted it to the manufacturer for co-op approval.
  • Dealer decided he wants to make the same offer at two stores instead of just one. This means two versions of the script. Wrote a second version.
  • Checked the two stores’ web sites to make sure the links mentioned in the call-to-action were operational. One store web site turned out to be down. Called the store GM, learned that it was in the middle of a redesign and would be down for a while.
  • Removed the web site from that store’s copy. Replaced it with a phone number.
  • Notified three other radio groups that new spots for two stores would be coming later that afternoon.
  • Dealer arrived for his 11:30am recording session — at 3:15pm. On Friday. With the spots due to start Saturday morning.
  • Matt Jones, Clear Channel Portland Production Director extraordinaire, stayed two hours late to get the spots done. He sent them to me, and I sent them all over town.

There’s a much longer version of this story that stretches deep into the weekend (and involves a trip by Matt back to the station on Sunday. Thank you, Matt Jones). But that’s the basic idea.

This particular campaign would not have gotten on the air unless the dealer’s media rep:

1. Knew how to write good copy quickly.

2. Knew the procedure for securing co-op approval.

3. Had a basic understanding of Oregon and Federal consumer advertising law — and a relationship with someone at the Department of Justice who could clarify things in the case of a gray area.

4. Could effectively coordinate a project involving a manufacturer, a state agency, two stores, and four radio groups.

Luckily, I was available for the task. And in the words of Muhammad Ali, it ain’t bragging if it’s true.

If you’ve got a nice, simple campaign where you’ve already done all the work, feel free to call anybody.

If, on the other hand, your Portland or Vancouver-area business has a marketing project that’s too important to trust to just anybody, Phil Bernstein is but a phone call away. The number’s 503-323-6553.


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