Promax Expects Big Turnout For Summit

The promotion organization's first event for promotion and creative services managers and staffers at TV stations, is drawing way more registrants than expected — 450 with two weeks still to go. Six syndicators and ABC and NBC are part of the reason. They're subsidizing the attendance of stations employees, paying up to $1,000 of their expenses. The Station Summit grew out of talks last fall among marketing executives at the syndicators, who were looking for an efficient way to engage stations in their promotions.

“It’s bananas,” says Jonathan Block-Verk. The president of PromaxBDA was referring to the promotion and design association’s first and, it is hoped, annual Station Summit, which is set for Planet Hollywood Hotel in Las Vegas in two weeks (June 8-9).

“It’s going way better than we thought — way better. This whole thing started as a 150-person experiment. We were going to try it out, see what happens and try to grow it organically. And, right now, we have 450 people registered.”

Most of the 450 are promotion and creative services managers and staffers at TV stations, the type of people who founded Promax 55 years ago, but who over the years have ceded the association to their network counterparts as stations’ T&E budgets have tightened.

That hundreds have registered is not entirely surprising. Six Hollywood program syndicator (Twentieth Television, CBS Television Distribution, Debmar-Mercury, NBC Universal Television Distribution, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution) and two broadcast networks (ABC and NBC) are subsidizing the attendance of stations employees, paying up to $1,000 of their expenses.

“The whole spirit of this event is making sure [station] people can get there,” says Block-Verk.

For the programmers, the subsidies make sense, according to Block-Verk. They get an opportunity to pitch their promotional plans for the upcoming season to the people they will need to implement them at the local level.

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“When it comes to promotion and marketing, actually monetizing the shows, that’s done at the local level,” says Block-Verk. “They understand their audience like nobody else. The marketing and promotion person in St. Paul has to approach programming differently than the marketing and promotion person in New York.”

The first official day of the conference (Wednesday, June 8) is Studio Day, during which each of the syndicators will present their plans to the local broadcasters in a series of meetings.

Day two is given over to a day-long conference with speakers and panels on such topics as sales promotions, social media promotion, creating effective promotions, guerrilla marketing, effective presentations and monetizing mobile.

The two official days will be bracketed by related gatherings. On Tuesday, June 7, NBC and ABC will be hosting marketing meetings with their affiliates.

On Friday, June 10, several stations group have organized meetings of their station staffers. The groups include the CBS and NBC O&Os, LIN Media, Raycom, Sinclair, Scripps, Post-Newsweek and Gannett.

“So if you are an NBC affiliate that’s owned by, say, Raycom, this is going to be a four-day event,” says Block-Verk.

In connection with the Station Summit, PromaxBDA has inaugurated two sets of awards — the Just Cause Awards, for station work with charities and community groups; and the PromaxBDA Local Awards, which will recognize “outstanding” station design, promotion and marketing in some three dozen categories.

The Just Cause Award will be presented at a luncheon on Thursday; the Local Awards, at a Thursday evening ceremony hosted by comedian Sugar Sammy.

The Station Summit grew out of talks last fall among marketing executives at the syndicators, who were looking for an efficient way to engage stations in their promotions.

PromaxBDA also felt a responsibility to address the needs of the stations. “We haven’t done anything for this sector for a long, long time,” Block-Verk says. “They are the historic legacy of this organization.”

But it was the studios’ willingness to cool some of their competitiveness and collaborate and provide the subsidies that led to the over-the-top registration.

“The studios are 100% behind this thing,” Block-Verk says. “They are backing it. Without them, we would not have been able to put this together.”

For PromaxPDA, the summit will be close to break-even this year, and that’s good enough to start the planning for 2012 and beyond. “If the studio community continues to get behind it, we will continue doing it.”

And with two weeks still remaining before the Summit opens its doors, PromaxBDA is hoping to attract more local broadcasters, Block-Verk says. “We are open and willing to work with any legitimate local marketing, promotion and design executive to help them get here.”


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