The Posting Game: Deal or No Deal?
“Let us never negotiate out of fear. And, let us never fear to negotiate.” — John F. Kennedy
In my book "Successful Local Broadcast Sales" I mention that while living in Prague, Czech Republic I heard people tell old communist jokes. In one such joke two brothers are split up in 1968 after one brother escapes to West Germany and the other remains in Czechoslovakia. The brother in Germany prospers while his sibling endures the hardships of communist oppression. Years later they meet secretly in the forest. The brother living in Germany asks his brother, "So, how’s it going with the Russians?" His brother replies, "Oh, quite well. We negotiated a good ‘deal’ with the Russians. You see, we give them all of our manufactured goods." His brother asks, "And what do you get in exchange?" The sibling answers, "In exchange, we give them all of our natural resources and free labor."
The posting "deal" television made with the agencies years ago wasn’t much better. Wouldn’t you have liked to have been a fly on the wall at the very first posting meeting between a TV general manager and an agency person?
Agency: "We’re going to change the way we buy television. From now on, we’re going to buy your station based on the ratings you have now. But if your ratings drop then YOU OWE US."
TV Manager: "Gee, okay, I think I understand. So I guess what you’re saying is that if our ratings go UP, then YOU OWE US?"
TV Manager: "Okay, then we’ll DO IT!"
Isn’t "negotiation" supposed to be a two-way street? Television stations got hijacked onto a one-way toll road with no exit and they have regretted it ever since. Radio has resisted posting for decades but now the pressure to comply is intensifying, along with increasing demands for "added value", free remotes and of course, bonus spots. By the way, do you know what they call bonus spots in Mexico? Bonificacion. Pretty funny, until you remember that the broadcasters are the ones getting…well…you know.
How much longer must this senseless and painful bonificacion continue? Broadcasters in both radio and television should stand up now and negotiate a fairer playing field. How about this as a posting strategy? When ratings go down the station agrees to run make-goods for the agency. And when ratings go UP, the agency agrees to send the station MORE MONEY! Now wouldn’t that be better than a slap across the belly with a wet squirrel? "Well, maybe not as good as THAT," you might be thinking, but at least it would be fair.
Paul Weyland Training Seminars
Editor’s note: Paul is responding to a recent story on how to implement posting between the agencies and radio stations (5/1/08 RBR #86).