CMT builds reputation and fans around awards show

NASHVILLE, TN: CMT (Country Music Television) is using PR and media relations to raise the profile of its awards show, and is also leveraging fan involvement leading up to the 2009 CMT Music Awards on June 16.

NASHVILLE, TN: CMT (Country Music Television) is using media relations and leveraging fan involvement leading up to the 2009 CMT Music Awards on June 16.*

"Obviously, one of our main goals is to drive tune-in," said Lisa Chader, VP of corporate communications for CMT. Another goal is "putting our awards show on the same playing field as some of the big broadcast television awards show."

To do that, CMT is reaching out to entertainment trade media, as well as consumer and lifestyle publications, with help from its AOR, Nashville-based Wortman Works. The show's red carpet – and the paparazzi – also adds to the reputation of the show, Chader said.

"We're a country music awards show. We're on cable. We tape in Nashville, so it's not as easy for [media outlets] to send a crew," Chader said of the PR challenges. The network, therefore, builds on partnerships with media outlets like USA Weekend and People magazine, which will sponsor the Breakthrough Video of the Year award and the show's afterparty, respectively.

As the awards are all decided by a fan vote, CMT decided to host a "fan conference," with CMT's Lance Smith and artist Kellie Pickler, instead of a traditional press conference to announce the nominees on May 19.

Since then, the network has used its Web presence to promote the awards and drive people to to vote. Online, the network uses Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, and the team will be live-blogging from the red carpet and awards show.

"They stuck their toe in the water last year with [social networking], but we have [an] increased presence [this year]," Chader said. "They created Web tools for the different artists, so on their fan sites, whether it's a button or icon, it drives back to for people to vote."

*A previous version of this article gave the awards show date of June 7. PRWeek regrets the error.

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