Some Thoughts on 2016 Media Planning

As many companies are finalizing their 2016 communications plans, there is the convergence of at least two major events that will impact media planning considerably. First 2016 is an election year and a Presidential Election Year, so don’t plan for any major launches or events the first week in November.

Sixteen years ago, working on a health campaign, we had not planned for the election between Bush and Gore to end in a virtual tie, the hanging chads—the fact that the whole country was focused on who the next President would be, not our hypertension campaign, although there was a lot of high blood pressure involved. It’s hard to predict that a general election might be disputed for weeks afterward, but now we know that it can happen, I would avoid major putting major non-political news announcements in November 2016.

Then, there are the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Mark August 5-21st on your calendar. The Paralympics which follows September 7-18 doesn’t impact media coverage but it really should. I think it’s just as great for spectators as the Olympics itself, but I’m no doubt a minority. Every NBC station is going to be focused on local participants and tie-ins, so about one-fourth to one-third of available newscasts to pitch will be preoccupied or covered up with Olympics coverage. For Olympics sponsors, plans are already finalized for promoting their involvement in the Rio Games. For non-sponsors, there’s the opportunity to capitalize on an athlete’s involvement, particularly a dark horse who wins unexpectedly. Most Olympians have full-time or part-time jobs in the real world, and there’s always a way to leverage that for an employer’s or marketer’s benefit.

As social media channels explode in prominence, Rio 2016 will be the most social Olympics ever, and most athletes already have considerable built-in followings that could benefit communicators and/or their messages. While the USOC has a lot of guidelines about endorsements, they are still not very well formed around social media.

Rio is three hours ahead of the East Coast in terms of time zone, which actually works to the benefit of a lot of the TV coverage. Whenever we have the nearly full day lag time for an Olympics in China, Japan or Australia, it presents a number of challenges. The other nice thing about Rio is it is a beautiful, resort city, used to accommodating huge crowds for Carnivale. There has always been a crime problem, but it’s generally a tourist-friendly city. Infrastructure is always a bit of a challenge in Brazil (I lived there for several months as a child), but the Olympics tends to overwhelm any organizer (I worked the 1996 Games in Atlanta and have seen this first hand).

Thoughts, questions, comments about the 2016 editorial calendar? Reach out—the first consultation is always free.