Radio Event Marketing

Radio As an Event Marketing Channel

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Using radio for event marketing might be the key to success for promoting your next live event. While modern digital channels are more popular and still need to be prioritized, traditional offline media should not be overlooked. They may well reach your next event’s target market, particularly if you are targeting an older or niche demographic.

Radio offers a unique set of marketing characteristics, both benefits and challenges, which differentiate it from other traditional media channels. In this article, I will cover key considerations for using radio for event marketing, including whether it is the correct medium for your event and ways to overcome some of its weaknesses as a marketing channel.

TSE has published several articles on the topic of using offline channels for event marketing. Those that address radio specifically include Using Mass Media for Event Promotion; and Using Offline Marketing for Event Promotion: Part One. This article will take a deeper look at radio as a marketing channels for entertainment event promotion.

Why Radio for Event Marketing?

TSE Entertainment | Radio As an Event Marketing ChannelDespite being a traditional media channel, radio listening is still quite prominent in the US. In a study performed last year, 76% of audio consumption on an ad-supported platform was with FM/AM radio (Kaufer). It is typically a free medium for consumers to engage with, and there is a symbiosis with radio, music, and concerts/festivals.  It makes logical sense to consider doing event marketing on this platform.

Radio marketing can also be cost effective depending on the station, the market size, length of your ad, schedule, and audience demographics. In general, it can cost anywhere between $5-$750 to book and broadcast a minute-long ad segment. Thorough research to focus on a highly targeted audience is the best and most cost-effective advertisement. Additionally, creating a prerecorded audio advertisement is significantly cheaper than creating an video ad.

Differentiating Radio From Other Event Marketing Channels

TSE Entertainment | Radio As an Event Marketing ChannelWhen creating your marketing plan, you need to consider some key characteristics of radio as a marketing channel. First, radio is unique in that it’s an auditory medium. The lack of any visual component requires that the ad audio be compelling, brief, efficient, and include a clear call to action. Listeners are often exposed to radio advertising without their full attention to it when it plays. Thus, you will need to consider attention-grabbing techniques to captivate an audience.

Unlike digital media, a challenge when using such a traditional media marketing channel is the difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of the advertising medium. One solution is to broadcast a promotional code only used on the radio ads for marketing attribution purposes. If significant numbers of consumers use the promo code when purchasing tickets to the event compared to other event marketing channels, that would indicate that the radio advertising is effective.

Because radio channels only play the audio through once, it is important that the name of the event and key contact information (such as the website, phone number, and/or social media account) are repeated clearly and at the conclusion of the ad. You should limit the information to only one or two forms of contact.

Keep in mind that this involves an extra step for the consumer to look up the event themselves, rather than just simply clicking an online ad. Repeated exposure to the advertisement can limit issues from the “here and gone” nature of radio broadcast ads. The repetition of the name of the event or artist name will increase brand awareness regardless.

Another weakness of radio is the oversaturation of advertisements. Typically, several ads are played one after another in an advertisement programming break.  Your ad is one of a number of ads and often played between other ads which could lead to yours getting lost amont the othe ads. This can be lessened by investing in running multiple ads over a few weeks leading up to the event.


Finding the Right Radio Stations for Event Promotion

radio talk shot hosts The first step to radio event marketing or any the selection of any other marketing strategy is determining your target audience and understanding their interests and listening habits. Once you know your audience, you will want to research radio stations whose listeners match the  desired characteristics of your target audience.. You will want to consider criteria such as number of listeners matching your target market, geographic reach, station type, personalities of their disc jockeys, advertising and programming schedule, ad pricing, and willingness to become a radio partner for your event.

You can explore different radio formats to reach your audience including music, talk shows, college stations, sports, news, etc. Within these main genres of radio, there are increasingly more specific subgenres that will be helpful to target depending on your audiences’ characteristics.

Most obvious, you will want to match the genre of music of the event or venue to that of the radio station (if you are marketing for a concert). It would be highly unusual for your target market to have different music listening interests than that taking place at your event.

Some radio stations are eclectic and vary the type of music played or when it is played, resulting in a more varied audience at certain times. The goal for event marketing is to use radio’s audience listening segmentation to reach the audience that directly match your target audience’s listening habits.


Types of Radio Stations for Event Marketing

TSE Entertainment | Radio As an Event Marketing ChannelThe type of station necessitates distinct considerations. For example, local radio stations are likely invested in the surrounding community and will want to support local art and music events. National radio stations will be less invested in marketing small events. Internet radio stations are also not geographically bound. These will require more targeted marketing efforts, including such things as using station ticket giveaways or providing DJs with a press pass (more on types of marketing later).

You will also want to consider how listeners are tuning in when planning for radio advertising. Some might engage with a local AM or FM station through their car radio, while others use online streaming, digital apps on their devices, or services such as Pandora or SiriusXM to listen.

Based on the time the advertisement is played, different audiences will be listening. For example, during different drive times such as after school or after work there may be different audiences listening to the same station.

Each radio station has the best data into their listener demographics, and they can advise when to best air the ads for your upcoming event. You can reach out to them with your advertising needs and request information about their audience demographics and behaviors.

Ways of Involving Radio Stations in Marketing Your Event

There are many creative ways to involve radio stations in the marketing process, and here are a few to consider.

  1. Ticket Giveaways: Giveaways are a great way to create interest about your event, particularly as the DJs build hype around the giveaway while pre-announcing the particulars about your event. You can provide tickets to the station to run a contest on air for them. You can also request that stations post the ticket giveaway on their social media accounts to attract listeners, giving your event additional marketing visibility.

Not only does this bring more attention to your event, but it also increases listenership engagement with the station – creating a win-win marketing situation. While you will want to set specific guidelines and clear expectations for what the disc jockey should say about the event, this format allows them some creative freedom and flexibility for the station.

  1. Free Tickets for DJs: If you have connections to local disc jockeys or discover individuals that harmonize with your event, you can reach out to them directly. By providing them with free entry to your event, they may choose to promote it before, during, and/or after as additional coverage. You can also provide them with a press pass in the hopes they will promote and cover the event. This increased visibility is known as influencer marketing, especially when the DJ has a large social media following.

If you choose this route, consider that using specific DJs will require the same considerations necessary with other influencer or celebrity marketing. Thus, you must ensure cohesion between their history, audience, and branding with your event. See our post on Influencer Marketing here.

  1. Broadcasting Audio Advertisements: One of the most obvious ways to promote your event is by creating an audio commercial to be played during the station’s programming. It can be informational, include a jingle and/or snippets of the artist singing, and/or describe the event. One of the best approaches is to have the headliner invite their fans out to the event in a short video segment. The video can be used on social media and the audio from it can be used as a radio ad.

The audio should be compelling, brief, fast-paced, and clear about you are advertising. Creating a more engaging audio snippet by using the headline artist will intrigue listeners to follow through on the call to action. However, it still needs to blend well with the other content broadcasted on the station.

  1. Station Partnerships: Radio stations love to support local arts and events! For larger-scale concerts and events, like festivals and fairs, they could be interested in becoming your radio partner and sponsoring your event. Make sure to communicate your budgets early on. Radio stations can also provide their DJs as Emcees, another mutual benefit to this partnership.
  2. Live Event Broadcasting or Streaming: Another way to market an event is by having a radio station do a remote broadcast from the event. Live artist interviews, using playlists before and after the show, and broadcasting a portion of the show are all possible with the right radio station partner. Both parties gain from this relationship, as the station increases listenership and the event benefits from more coverage.

Selling tickets for live streaming an event.  For various reasons many people may not be able to attend the show in person but would be willing to pay to view it live via streaming. This provides an additional way of making the event financially successful while also increasing the size of the potential audience for marketing purposes.

There is a difference between attending an event in person, watching a recorded performance later on YouTube, or listening or watching a live broadcast of the event. Each will attract a different segment of generally the same audience, depending on their level of interest in the event, where they live, and the money they are willing to spend to attend.

Regardless, make sure you have a thoroughly prepared press kit you can share when reaching out to various radio stations for event marketing. Whether they accept your radio partnership offer or not, these contacts increase awareness of your event in the markets they serve.

The harmony in the music industry between radio broadcasting and live music events makes radio a natural fit for event promotion. Thus, many of these event marketing opportunities provide benefits to the radio station as well as the event’s visibility.

Nurture Radio Relationships for Future Event Promotions

After the event, be sure to follow up with the station, program manager, personnel, and/or DJs that you collaborated with. Such efforts provide the opportunity to invest long term in a relationship with local media outlets. Gaining their trust and favor of your brand and events can lead to future marketing and/or collaborations. Despite being a traditional offline marketing channel, radio provides unique benefits and opportunities that might take marketing your upcoming event to the next level and forming further long-term industry connections.


While online channels are critical for event marketing, there’s still a role for traditional offline channels. Radio advertising and radio DJ influencers can be particularly effective in promoting entertainment events. There are still people that listen to radio whether they are streaming it or listening in their cars. Of course, it all starts with your target audience and where they can be reached using both online and offline channels. Knowing the listening habits of your target markets will help you make that decision. Once you choose radio, there are a number of ways to make this event marketing channel effective to promote your show.


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About the author

Picture of Isabel von Mende

Isabel von Mende

Isabel von Mende is an aspiring music industry professional based in Los Angeles. She is currently a rising Senior Management student at Boston College with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Art History. She has just completed her semester studying abroad in Milan, Italy at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. She is highly involved on campus in student organizations, and she is Operations Director for WZBC BC Radio Station, Social Chair for EcoPledge (BC’s largest sustainability club), and Communications Director for the Transfer Ambassador Program. She has a great love of music, developed by her eight years as a disc jockey!
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