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Feature InterviewInterviews

John Hoist Interview

John Hoist
Promotion Manager
WEMI
Appleton, WI

Career Capsule: In 2017 I graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Communications. During my time there I had served as the Station Manager of Moody Campus Radio and had interned with Moody Radio and Focus on The Family. After graduating I was hired by Focus on the Family as an assistant producer. I helped produce the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, the Focus on Marriage and Focus on Parenting Podcasts, as well as a few other limited podcast series. In 2018 I was hired as the Promotions Manager at The Family Radio Network Inc. Over the past two years, we have worked to expand our promotions team and find new and meaningful ways.

 

John, tell us what’s new at The Family Radio Network, & new with you etc… ?

The Family is getting ready for our Spring Fundraiser. This year’s fundraiser will look different than most years, but now more than ever we are looking for ways to bring our listeners hope. Our theme for 2020 is Hope For The Family. That theme was decided on in 2019 long before we realized just how important that theme would be. We have been working to incorporate that theme into everything we do, from our fundraising to our social media, even t-shirts and other merchandise are being made with this theme in mind.

As for me what’s new with me, last year I helped launched a podcast called “Welcome To Adulting” through The Family. In the show, Caleb Williams, Assistant Program Director, and Shawna Young, Promotions Coordinator, and I talk about the challenges we all face at different stages of early adulthood. The show is meant to be an encouragement and let people know that they are not the only ones struggling to figure out difficult things like insurance, car maintenance, and relationships. The show is released every Monday and can be heard wherever you listen to podcasts.   

 

How has your job changed or shifted during the corona crisis?

This season is normally filled with concerts, conventions, and large family events. Due to the steps being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 we are shifting the way we think about promotions. Instead of being in places where we want listeners to come to us, we are working on ways to go to them. We have been brainstorming and planning a few fun ideas to safely connect with our listeners. We are also looking for fun contests and giveaways that meet our listener’s needs in this season. That includes at-home movie night packages, board games and puzzles, and gift cards for pizza delivery.

 

What are the 3 main ingredients to make a promotion successful?

Keep it Simple: It’s easy to have a good idea with complicated execution. I often find myself with an idea for a promotion but when it is time to explain how it works to others, I can confuse myself. There is normally some way to make a good idea simple, and if there isn’t, you may need to go back to the drawing board.  

Make it Fun and Engaging: Our promotions ask for a lot from our listeners, whether it’s to meet us at a local business, to send a photo or video of them doing something, or even to listen longer than normal and call in at a certain time. Because of this, we need to make sure they want to do it and get something worthwhile out of it. If you ask them to meet you somewhere, have games and prizes they actually want, if it’s a contest to give away tickets to a marriage retreat, ask them to share a funny story about them and their spouse.

Find The Why: Knowing why you are doing a promotion is key to its success and making sure that everyone knows the “why” will make any promotion memorable. At The Family we collect Hygiene Products for local crisis agencies in our listening areas as part of our annual Help For The Homeless Hygiene Drive. We work hard to share stories from people in crisis who rely on these items every day. We do this so that everyone involved sees why it is so important to give. Telling someone to give you feminine care products for a drive is a lot different than asking them to help a local woman who has been relying on paper towels from gas station bathrooms to meet her needs. Because of the hard work we put into finding stories from the drive our listeners and friends in 15 communities in our listening areas have embraced the drive and donated over $425K worth of supplies this year, $3.7 Million of hygiene products since the event began 28 years ago.

 

What is the best promotion advice you’ve been given? The worst?

I don’t remember what the worst piece of promotions advice is, honestly, I’ve probably given out more bad advice than I’ve received. I’ve been blessed to work with great promoters and people who have spent time in the promotions world have helped to mentor and guide me over the past several years. Early at my time at The Family, a staff member, with 20 years in promotions, offered some great advice which I’ve heard echoed from several others. She reminded me that our listeners don’t care about the same things that we, as employees of the station, care about. We recently raised funds to upgrade our equipment. When writing about it in the newsletter my first impulse was to include the details of what is being changed and upgraded. I was reminded that most readers will not know or care about the weatherproofing of our tower, or the specifics of the soundboards we want to buy. Instead, I wrote that, thanks to their donations, we will be able to continue broadcasting Hope, Strength, and Encouragement, without interruption, and with higher quality than ever before.

 

What is the one thing YOU must have to do your job every day?

My AeroPress coffee maker. It’s cheap, makes a great, perfectly portioned, cup of coffee. I highly recommend it.

 

In your opinion what makes the ideal station promotion?

I think the ideal promotion is one where we get to personally connect with as many listeners as possible. For our 50th anniversary, we hosted a free festival for the community. We expected about less than 1,000 attendees and we were blown away when 3,000+ people showed up for fun, games, free food, and a free concert from Sanctus Real. The festival was not just a success because of the numbers, but because of how many opportunities we had to connect with our listeners. The whole afternoon, listeners shared their favorite memories of The Family’s broadcasts, staff, and special God-moments, and hopefully we helped them make some new ones.

 

Regarding social networking and promotion, what have you had the most success with?

When it comes to social networking, our main goal is always to develop a deeper sense of community. When we focus on the community aspect, we see engagement go up, and the number of followers increase as well. We’ve especially seen that this year with our new “Hope For The Family Facebook Group”. Our station’s theme this year is “Hope For The Family” and to help share that theme with our listeners we created a Facebook group with that name in March. The goal was to offer hope and a community to our listeners as the stay at home orders began to be implemented. Within a few weeks, the group reached over one thousand members and we’ve seen a consistently high level of engagement. We’ve also seen that as that group grows so does our main Facebook page. In the last few weeks our follows and engagement have skyrocketed and continue to increase.

 

How do you measure the success of a great promotion?

I have two measures for success, professional and personal. From a business standpoint, I consider it a success if we see a high level of engagement from listeners, do something to benefit a client or sponsor who helped with some aspect of the promotion, and if the promotion created some engaging on-air content. On a personal level, I consider a promotion a success when we get to hear the impact we have in the lives of our listeners. Every summer we go to businesses across our network to meet with listeners for our “Family Fun Stops”. One stop required us to drive to a smaller town over an hour away from our main office. When we got to the location there was a woman who had come almost an hour early to say hello and drop off a canned food item for a food drive we were running. She told us that she wasn’t able to stay because she was going to visit her granddaughter who had spent the past few months in the hospital. She shared her story as we cried and prayed with her and she shared that her granddaughter was mostly unresponsive but there was a noticeable change in her when she heard our station. That week’s Family Fun Stop had a low turnout compared to other weeks but getting to meet with and connect with that one listener made it a huge success.

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