The Paradox of Bias in Marketing and Fundraising

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, marketing, implicit bias

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Bias is a tricky thing. 

We all have it, and sometimes that’s okay and sometimes it’s not. 

For marketing and fundraising professionals, this nuanced understanding of bias is even more important because cognitive biases are so often used in marketing and fundraising efforts to nudge potential donors into giving. But without any examination of the unintended consequences of such efforts, our tactics to get more donors or more dollars can reinforce harmful stereotypes. In addition, the demographics of the United States are changing, and public media needs to represent and engage new audiences if it wants to survive. 

So let’s break down what bias is exactly, and how we can use it responsibly and ethically.

Harvard professor Mahzarin Banaji beautifully sums up her decades-long research on implicit bias as “the thumbprint of culture on the brain.” In brief, implicit bias occurs because our brains are powerful machines that process millions of data points outside of our conscious awareness and make meaning out of that data in lightning fast time. It’s how we slam the breaks when we see a red light without “thinking” about it. But it can also lead to a “gut” feeling that a person is “bad” and we don’t realize that it’s because of the media images we’ve been fed about a certain race or culture. Implicit bias has gotten re-branded as unconscious bias in popular culture (despite the inaccuracy of the name, as many of our biases are triggered subconsciously, not when we’re asleep), and has come to be short-hand for the type of bias that leads to discrimination.

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Prepare Your Sales Strategy for a Banner Election Year

elections, sales strategy, Corporate Support

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As the election ramps up, all corporate support sales reps should feel confident that public media is going to have a banner year. The election year is expected to deliver larger than normal audiences to public media, similar to what we saw in 2016. Combine this with balanced reporting, lack of political advertising, and the qualitative nature of our audiences, and public radio is the place for smart marketers to be heard. 

According to Nielsen Research, the 2016 election and aftermath provided the largest audience increase in history. The overall growth of the public radio audience since 2000 has been remarkable and the 2016 election brought even more new listeners, many of whom continue to listen. The expectation is that 2020 will provide another bump in ratings. 

For music stations,  there are signs that news fatigue has set in... to some extent. It would be smart for music formats of all types to position themselves as havens from the barrage of news and political advertising. Whether it’s classical, jazz, or AAA, music is a force that brings people together. Sponsors should appreciate that in 2020!

What is your strategy?

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Fundraising Messaging During a Chaotic Time

on-air message, Membership, Major Giving

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Our listeners are about to endure the spectacle of a presidential impeachment. Hearings are just beginning, which means a national trauma will be playing out during the holidays and during our traditional year-end fundraising. It’s a fair bet that our audiences will increase across broadcast and digital channels, affecting national programming and schedules. It’s also likely that the purveyors of fake or distorted news will unwittingly remind our listeners of the priceless value of public media.

What does this mean for the language we choose for fundraising as well as how we craft messaging across other channels like e-news services, podcasts, station apps or NPR One? When we give our audience a way to channel their dissatisfaction with the media circus, we allow them to reinforce their own values as well as those they share with public media.

First: Use language that stresses our values, not just the value of our service.

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Increase Year-End Giving With a High-Performance #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday, calendar year-end

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Data and recommendations provided by Jamie McDonald, advisor to #GivingTuesday and founder of Generosity Inc.

Since its inception in 2012, #GivingTuesday has grown to be one of the largest one-day generosity movements in the world. It’s now one of only three days during the year when donors actively look for a nonprofit they can support. The other two days are December 30 and 31. Of course the rest of the year, we’re going after donors to support us. 

There’s also evidence that simply participating in #GivingTuesday boosts year-end giving overall. Fundraisers used to be concerned that this post-Thanksgiving event displaced dollars from donors’ year-end gifts, simply moving them earlier in the year. But #GivingTuesday data shows that using the event to launch year-end giving leads to greater fundraising success during the month of December.

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How to Craft an Event Sponsorship Proposal That Wins Sponsors

event sponsorship, PMDMC, Corporate Support

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Selling event sponsorships can be a good way to increase revenue and, better yet, it doesn’t use up a lot of on-air inventory. However, what makes reps great at selling underwriting credits doesn’t always translate into finding sponsors for events. Connecting with prospects interested in event sponsorship requires more time and a compelling proposal of what the event will deliver for the prospect’s consumers. Kim Alexandre at The Center for Sales Strategy offered some timely tips at the 2019 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) about how to understand event sponsorship prospects’ unique needs and craft successful presentations to meet those needs.

Why do companies even sponsor events?

Companies generally decide to sponsor events because they want to start a relationship with consumers. Events allow them to interact with people in a meaningful way, just as they do for your radio station. 

Selling event sponsorships involves a process that is less transactional than on-air sponsorship, so start this process early to give prospects time to work your event into their calendar. 

How to get the conversation started?

It’s hard to get appointments with any prospect, as we all know. When it comes to selling sponsorships, it’s imperative to do your research so you can know something about their company, their marketing focus, any new products or initiatives. Take the time to write compelling emails showing that you know something about them and that you can help them reach their goals.

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Why Public Media Is Worthy of the Biggest Asks in America

Major Giving, General Management

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Public media has one of the most lofty and optimistic origin stories of the American 20th century. The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 proclaimed that all Americans have a right to non-commercial, educational programming on their TVs and radios. For democracy to flourish, the public must be informed and enlightened; the task of fortifying the minds and hearts of citizens must not fall to private interests alone. 

Not unlike like the public education system, public broadcasting is available to all. Our services have also thrived thanks to ongoing support from millions of Americans. We understand that financial support from individuals is proof of our importance to our communities, but access to public media is not limited by membership. Our mission to serve the common good has remained universal in its scope.

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When to Stop an On-Air Drive Due to Major News

Membership, pledge drive

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On-air fundraising interrupts your core programming, but sometimes your core programming has to interrupt your fundraising. 

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump is the latest major news event to cause stations to pause their on-air drives to bring listeners breaking news and vital information.

Public media is a public service first, and our primary obligation is to deliver that public service to the audience. This is the key tenant to come back to in any discussion about pausing or postponing a fund drive.

If there is breaking or live coverage of a significant event such as a press conference or live testimony, your audience expects to hear it in the moment from you. To continue fundraising in such moments risks sending the message that raising money takes precedence over your mission of public service.

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Understanding if Credit Copy Is Governed by FCC Regulations or Station/Other Policy

Federal Communications Commission, credit copy, FCC, Corporate Support

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At Greater Public we get many questions about FCC copy regulations, and sometimes those questions actually relate to station policy rather than the FCC guidelines themselves. But which guidelines are enforced by the FCC and which are ones restricted by individual station policy may surprise you.

Test your knowledge about a few of these rules with the questions below.  Are these FCC restrictions or are they implemented by the public media station or its university (or other licensee’s) policy?

1. Is it ok for a nonprofit underwriter to mention their own calendar year-end or other seasonal fundraising campaign?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

2. Are there special provisions for nonprofit underwriters?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

3. Can factual statements of awards be mentioned in a credit?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

4. Are announcements for alcohol, and tobacco, and/or e-cig/vaping companies allowed?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

5. Are personal pronouns allowed?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

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How Positive On-Air Messaging Can Remedy Listeners' News Fatigue

PMDMC, Membership, pledge drive

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The almost frenzied news coverage of the 2016 election and emotional response by many Americans has led to speculation about the rise of news fatigue among the public media audience and its effect on time spent listening and overall revenue. 

Several studies show that news fatigue is occurring. But this fatigue isn’t guaranteed to impact stations negatively. Many of our audience members see conventional media as the source of their news fatigue, and can still be reminded of the singular, trusted role public media plays for them.

First, the data. A 2018 Pew Research study reported that nearly seven in ten Americans were exhausted by the news, Republicans even more so that Democrats. Another study conducted by NPR found that 50% of Morning Edition and All Things Considered listeners said they sometimes needed a break from the news, and 38% said they felt overloaded with news and information these days1

However, there’s no indication that station listenership is down overall. RRC (Radio Research Consortium) finds that while some stations are experiencing decreased listenership, other markets are experiencing gains. (Of course, examining only listenership can be misleading, since people are consuming media across increasingly diverse platforms. Inside Radio estimates that Americans will spend over 11 hours each day interacting with content across various streams.) 

So where does this leave a fundraiser with a goal to meet and a on-air campaign looming? During this moment of news fatigue, it’s more important than ever to embrace on-air messaging that is positive and engaging.

At PMDMC 2019 we joined two experienced allies from the programming world to discuss on-air messaging that can combat the effects of news fatigue and positively engage donors right where they are during the drive and beyond.

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Leading With Influence and Persuasion in Public Media

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, leadership

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Leadership roles in public media are often very challenging and complex. Whether you’re a GM, a PD, marketing director, underwriting director, or membership director, we are all responsible for creating strategies and painting a vision. However, when leading a team, creating consensus and alignment is not an easy task.

My go-to source for enhancing my ability to persuade people without coercion, is a book titled “The Art of Woo.” The authors Mario Moussa and G. Richard Shell both teach at the Wharton School. “Woo” refers to the ability to “Win Others Over.” It’s this ability to persuade, according to the book, that allows us to achieve our business goals.

Develop Trusting Internal Business Relationships

Woo is basically relationship-based persuasion: a strategic process for getting people’s attention, presenting your ideas, and obtaining approval for your plans and projects. Face-to-face meetings are the best way to develop trusting relationships. Such settings enable people to catch nonverbal cues such as voice-tone, body language, and emotional emphasis.

Cultivate Self-Awareness 

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