Case Study: How KCUR Tripled its Newsletter Subscribers Using Paid Social Media Ads

Social/Mobile, social media, Facebook advertising

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Also in this series: “Case Study: How KWMU Generates Email Leads Using Paid Social Media

In 2017, my station, KCUR 89.3 in Kansas City, Mo., had a content-driven weekday email that highlighted important news of the day. The content was hand-curated and high-quality, and we knew it deserved a wider audience. My digital department allocated a small budget ($1,200) toward paid Facebook and Instagram ads aimed at generating email address leads. My colleagues in audience development also saw the newsletter as a major opportunity to get to know our audience as a result of the email addresses generated by their subscription to our list. Finally, we all believed we could convert many engaged readers into donors.

When the newsletter was a year old, it had 2,100 subscribers. We set this as our baseline; our goal was to grow the list by 100 percent. This felt ambitious but attainable for what was a first-time experiment. We didn’t have clear, in-house benchmarks, nor did we have easy access to paid-social metrics for our industry, so we referenced general Facebook benchmarks for success to help guide our goal. (At the time, internet research suggested $2/lead was phenomenal success for our industry.)

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Bust Your Organization's Internal Silos With an Audience-Centric Approach

Membership, General Management, Corporate Support, Major Giving, marketing, leadership, strategy, PMDMC

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This interactive session  was first presented by Atlantic 57 at PMDMC 2018. You can try three session exercises with your own team to explore how to put these principles into practice.

There's a division in many newsrooms today that has an impact on how well we serve our audiences. 

Most newsroom reporters and editors focus on creating content, while those in digital roles focus on distributing that content or analyzing audience analytics.

The challenge: Newsrooms are struggling to bridge the divide between old and new.

When these groups work as two teams instead of one, newsrooms struggle to bridge the divide between old ways of presenting content and the new ways in which audiences consume content. It's a gap that has a significant impact on the audience experience:

The solution: Unite your teams to serve your audiences.

Put the needs of your audiences at the center of your work. This seems like a no-brainer. And yet, many organizations are falling short of this goal. There are three key barriers that stand in the way. We'll outline what those barriers are, and how to bridge them. 

BARRIER 1: Media organizations try to be everything to everyone, everywhere.

Sound familiar? Audiences are moving across platforms at a rapid pace (think podcasting, social media, smart speakers...) Many organizations are scrambling to keep up with these platform shifts and can lose sight of the larger mission. 

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How to Better Motivate Your Sales Team This Year

Corporate Support, managers, New Year's resolutions

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When I worked in the sales department at a commercial radio station, the sales manager went to the extreme to motivate the sales staff just prior to the fourth quarter in preparation for the holidays and leading into the new year. 

There was a huge kickoff meeting, with sales contests and incentives such as trips, double the sales-commission rate, and cash bonuses. But all the “rah-rah” and pom-pom shaking can’t fix a motivation problem.

Sales reps continually face outside circumstances that affect their motivation. Prospects and customers tell them "no" over and over again; the timing may be wrong to sell a particular sales promotion; or there may be some personal situation going on affecting a person’s ability to sell. 

As a sales manager I know that the motivation of sales people can affect their productivity. With an eye toward improving the success of your sales staff, here are some ideas to boost their motivation. 

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Farm Bill Changes Legal Status of Certain Types of CBD Oil - What That Means for Underwriting

Corporate Support, FCC, cannabis

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On Thursday, January 20, 2018, President Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, better known as "the farm bill," into law. In doing so, a small subset of cannabidiol (CBD) – a product derived from cannabis that has been promoted as non-intoxicating and has become trendy as a “wellness” product – has been legalized.

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal law called the “Controlled Substances Act.” Even though there has been a recent wave of marijuana legalization at the state level, there has been no change to the federal law making marijuana illegal. 

This newly-signed law creates a small exception for hemp (with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of 0.3% or lower) to be grown without violating the Controlled Substances Act if the grower receives approval from a state, Indian tribe, or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and follows the applicable regulations.

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not changed its position that CBD is not an approved food ingredient, food additive, or dietary supplement.  

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What Are You Going to Get Great at in 2019?

Corporate Support, calendar year-end, New Year's resolutions

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It’s the time of year for annual planning.  Whether you’re a sales manager or a corporate support rep, having a plan is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your team. What seems clear in today’s media environment is that we can’t enter any year with a business-as-usual approach.

I’ve had many conversations lately with Greater Public members who have shared news of unexpected attrition of longstanding accounts deciding to cut back or leave public media for now. We can’t take anything or anyone for granted. An annual plan needs to take an honest look at possibilities for growth in the face of a possible 25-35% attrition.

As a sales manager, new initiatives are a good place to start. What are you going to pursue? I’m sure the list of options is long, but it’s important to focus on just one or two things that will bring the most value to the station and your team.  

Create my operating plan for corporate support >>

My first year as a sales manager I was so energized and excited. I was going to change the world! I had a list of six or seven major initiatives to tackle. When I put them into my annual plan, my boss - the now famous Kirk Nelson - warned me that I was taking on WAY TOO MUCH! He forced me to prioritize by making me write out all the steps and a timeline for each thing I wanted to take on. That was an eye-opening experience that I have never forgotten.  

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Case Study: How KWMU Generates Email Leads Using Paid Social Media

social media, Social/Mobile, instagram, Facebook advertising

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In 2017, St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU) Digital Media Specialist Brendan Williams made a connection that led to the station’s most successful social media experiment to date.

The station was paying an agency to, among other things, deliver brand content for their social media channels like image carousels and animated video aimed at listening options. But the investment yielded little ROI. KWMU's digital team realized they were making tons of content in-house that could be repurposed. They could easily take a portion of money they were paying the agency and divert it toward in-house experimentation in paid social media ads.

The station had an appropriate target in mind for the leads: a daily content-based email that they were looking to grow. Williams’ team had experimented enough with paid Facebook ads to know they did a pretty good job generating email leads.

So, KWMU decided to reappropriate some of its agency budget to pay for Facebook and Instagram ads promoting the station’s daily content email.

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Nurture Your Underwriting Client Relationships After the Close

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting

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You’ve worked hard to sign up your new underwriter. You started with an initial meeting to learn about her challenges and objectives. Then you followed up with information how your media can provide a solution targeting her desired outcome. She liked your presentation and proposal; your answers to her questions, and she decided to become an underwriter.

What do you do now?

Believe it or not, the sale is not complete. The commitment is there but you’ve not yet started to deliver what she purchased. So, next up… 

Write up the underwriting agreement and have it signed and returned to you.

Corporate Support Administrative Templates

Draft the underwriting copy so it conveys her marketing message and complies with the FCC’s and your station’s copy guidelines. Once the copy is approved, send her a recording of the spot. Let her know she can share it with her employees and post it on her company’s website. 

Send her a schedule of times that her underwriting spots will air during the first week so she’ll know when to listen in to hear her spot.

After the contract is signed, the copy is produced and ready for airing, and you’ve sent her the list of when her spots will air during the first week you’re all done. Right?

There’s still more work to be done.

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What the Hacking of Half a Billion Credit Cards Means for Public Media

Membership, sustainers, credit cards

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When the news broke today that as many as 500 million Marriott Starwood customers were victims of a data breach exposing their personal and financial information over the course of four years, we were, of course, immediately concerned about effects on our industry.

When a member hands over their personal data, the responsibility that comes with it is paramount. Failing to secure that data can cause significant material losses. What’s worse, the loss of a member’s trust may be irreparable.

If you haven’t already, verify that your systems are PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. Non-compliance can cost you thousands upon thousands in fines and lost revenue.

The reality of our data-dependent world is that a breach in one industry will have ripple effects. Here’s what you can do to manage the consequences the Marriott breach is likely to have.

Prepare for an increase in sustainer card declines.

Half a billion credit cards. That number is staggering. Some of those cards - or many of those cards - may be in your sustainer file. Audit your recapture program and make sure you’re positioned to go after that lost revenue. Use as many channels as you can to get your sustainers back quickly. Consider using the following calendar to connect with donors to update their information:

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How to Monetize Your Podcast With Grants

Corporate Support, podcast, foundation support, digital sponsorship, philanthropy

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It’s been said that we’re living in the Golden Age of Podcasting. This relatively new medium has exploded in popularity; those who listen are often super-fans. There’s a natural fit between corporate sponsorship and big-name podcasts like Serial and Death, Sex and Money. But for many of our smaller startups, securing podcast sponsorship is an absolute challenge.

If you haven’t yet grown your audience numbers to attract a business sponsor or your community just isn’t quite “podcast savvy,” there’s another funding option that might be perfect for you: securing grants.

The good news is that if you are a grant writer, getting a grant for a podcast is no different than getting one for any other project. And if you are in sales, making a case for funding to a foundation is much like making the pitch to a potential underwriter or sponsor, as long as you have honed your writing skills.

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Make This the Year to Beat for Year-End Major Giving

Major Giving, calendar year-end, giving clubs

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Every fundraiser looks hopefully to December when so many people give generously to nonprofits. In fact, over 30% of the annual gifts made happen in the month of December. There is great opportunity to connect to some of your most generous supporters by ensuring that your organization's gift-club donors ($1,000 - $5,000) are asked to renew their gifts before the end of the calendar year.

Here's a concrete (hypothetical) example of how gift-club renewals can line you up to meet your year-end goal: Say your station has a budget gap of $150,000 between your year-end goal and  your giving total as of December 1st. If you have 500 gift-club members ($1,200 entry gift), and 100 of them are due to renew their gifts in November/December, there is an opportunity to ask for $120,000 in gifts.

The difference between finishing the year on-budget or not could come down to the number of gift-club asks you make, so don’t delay. Here is a plan of action to solicit these donors and help them to be a vital part of your organization's successes in the coming year.

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