By honoring local students for their achievement, the Texas ABC affiliate is boosting revenue and winning hearts and minds.
Sales promotions make sense when they increase audience size, station revenues or, ideally, both. But there’s a third measure of promotional success that you might call “sales image promotion”—campaigns that capture the hearts and minds of viewers and advertisers so effectively that they indirectly boost ratings and sales.
At McKinnon Broadcasting’s KIII Corpus Christi, Texas, they’re scoring on all three fronts. The station’s 3 Star Students is a 10-year-old project that highlights the achievements of middle school kids throughout the 129th DMA.
It started as a straight public service campaign so simple that it barely had a broadcast component. “The original medium was bumper stickers which we sent out to the schools,” says Local Sales Manager Bill Beck. “They read My Child Is A 3-Star Student”—a compliment with a built-in salute to Channel 3, known locally as “Kay-Three,” long the dominant station in Corpus Christi.
Then and now, it was up to the schools to decide what student accomplishments deserved the recognition. The campaign was an instant hit with proud parents. Says Beck: “You can see 10 years worth of bumper stickers driving around our market every day.”
The feedback from parents and teachers was so enthusiastic that starting five years ago, KIII began to feature 3 Star Students on the air.
Every summer, Public Service Director Heidi Garcia invites 185 area schools to participate. The station still offers bumper stickers to elementary schools, but Garcia explains that televised honors are limited to grades 3 through 8 because “that’s the age group most comfortable talking on camera in the profiles.” Garcia receives more than enough nominated students to fill the twice-weekly profiles that run from September through May. “It’s really tied us to the community,” says Garcia. “We try to focus on families.”
On Wednesdays, a winning student is interviewed on 3 News First Edition by co-anchors Katia Uriarte and Bill Vessey. (Watch a segment by clicking here.) Another 3 Star Student is showcased on Sunday morning’s Dominga Live, which has a rich local history, as well as national fame for the early appearances of Tejano music legend Selena.
Each 3 Star Student receives a certificate on air, a notebook with the station logo and a backpack from Navy Army Federal Credit Union, which signed on as the sole sponsor four years ago. In addition to the interview segments, the sponsor is included in five to 10 promotional spots each week. (Check out one of the promos by clicking here.)
The sponsor receives all this for a relative bargain—less than $10,000 per year. Bill Beck is quick to point out that this revenue is not subtracted from spot sales. It’s bonus income derived from program and promo content. What’s more, he says, “It creates an ongoing relationship with the sponsor and allows us to get a bigger share of their annual ad budget.”
The entire program consolidates KIII’s position as a community leader, and opens the door to other opportunities, including sponsorships for other public service efforts, such as High School Scholar-Athlete of the Week, which showcases local sports stars who maintain a high grade point average.
Such programs are just a part of KIII’s public service, Heidi Garcia points out. “We also run a Health Fair, a Christmas Food Drive and take part in the Children’s Miracle Network to benefit Driscoll Children’s Hospital.”
Sounds like KIII earns its three stars every week, year-round.
Market Share by Arthur Greenwald is a series on successful station promotions which appears every Monday. We’re on the lookout for other good ideas for increasing local audience and revenue. If you have one (or more) to share, please contact Arthur Greenwald at [email protected].