Bathroom Scales and Underwriting Sales: The Not-So-Likely Connection

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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During my lifetime, I have gained and lost over 700 pounds. I used to be morbidly obese, once tipping the scale at 260 plus pounds. No big surprise. According to the CDC, four out of five African American women are either overweight or obese. For more than four decades, I was a card-carrying member of that out-of-control sorority. And for more than a decade, I worked in public media—serving seven years as Director of Corporate Underwriting for Public Radio WEAA in Baltimore and four years as a Senior Account Executive at Maryland Public Television. A few years ago, I lost 60 pounds, kept it off, and launched a BRAND-NEW chapter in my life. Now I show overweight, overworked, overstressed, perimenopausal, menopausal, post-menopausal women—like I used to be—and anyone else who is over it how to quiet the battle between mind, body, and food. What the heck does this have to do with underwriting sales? Keep reading. 

BRAND-NEW thoughts about food or anything, even underwriting sales, lead to BRAND-NEW behaviors— and outcomes. Here, I unpack the eight-step strategy I used to achieve and teach weight loss mastery. My program mirrors the actual letters in BRAND-NEW. Upon reflection, I recognized these as the same steps I followed throughout my 40-year career in sales—a career that has generated more than $75,000,000 in revenue. 

B: Begin and Believe

Converting a $5,000 sponsor into a $50,000 partner (hint: $50,000 doesn’t have to come from one client) begins with imagining all that could be involved in getting there. If you want a BRAND-NEW and improved relationship with a client, you must first believe a better relationship is even possible. This is where you begin to write a BRAND-NEW story positioning yourself to provide maximum value to your clients. When you “begin with the end in mind,” you immediately start to think differently, ask different questions, and believe in BRAND-NEW outcomes.

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The Cookie Apocalypse: A Tasty Opportunity for Public Media

Corporate Support, digital sponsorship

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What is the “Cookie Apocalypse?” Sounds like a chocolate chip-ageddon, which really wouldn’t be all that bad if you like chocolate chip cookies. But, the “Cookie Apocalypse” is the current name for the disappearance of tracking cookies in digital ads. Browser cookies identify a computer and its user(s) and help advertisers serve up more relevant ads. But have you noticed that websites now ask your permission to “track you across apps”?

When you say “No, don’t track,” then the tracking cookie can’t be used and those programmatic digital ads that used to follow you around everywhere are no longer viable. This is a new IAB best practice that advertisers are adopting.

“Yay!” many say, and rightly so.

The IAB published in their Post-Cookie Whitepaper that "the proliferation of cookies has increased anxiety over online privacy. Data collection is fragmented over many websites, devices, browsers, apps, etc. making it exceedingly difficult for consumers to understand who may be doing what with their data and to apply privacy controls centrally and consistently, while ensuring these choices persist over time. For third parties, the reliance on cookies has resulted in a battle between a rapidly degrading economic model, and the costly, persistent, and high-volume deployment of cookies.”  

What does this mean for public media digital sponsorship?

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How the Pandemic Prepared Public Media to Build an Audience-Centered Culture

leadership, Audience Engagement, COVID-19

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Over the past year, I’ve watched public media organizations meet the challenges of the pandemic by creating ways to serve audiences that would have been previously unimaginable. 

From COVID help desks to the most creative examples of virtual — and newly accessible — live events, the pandemic challenged many of our organizations to set aside some of the well-worn ways we do things in order to ask a single essential question: 

“What does our community need from us right now, and how can we best provide it for them?” 

The process of asking and answering that question is how we develop an audience. Continually repeating this process while embodying and rewarding the skills required to meet audience needs is how we build an audience-centered culture.

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ideastream's Virtual Asks of Major Donors

Major Giving, COVID-19

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Last year, we were looking for ways to connect with major donors in a manner that would inspire them, allow us to make solicitations, and also be safe given restrictions presented by the pandemic. We developed a two-pronged effort designed to first connect with major donors through a virtual event and then deliver an ask based on the donor’s particular passions and interests.

We started our engagement with an exclusive virtual event aimed at our Idea Leaders at the $1,200+ giving level. We called the event “Inside ideastream.” Each subsequent event had a different topic.

The inaugural one-hour virtual presentation hosted by ideastream’s president and CEO, Kevin Martin, was attended by about 60 donors. Kevin shared a behind-the scenes look at our strategic plan and highlighted some of the various ways we were advancing our mission to serve the community.

After the event, I collaborated with our board chair to identify those who had attended the virtual event whom she also had a relationship with. Then she reached out to those individuals to invite them to attend an individual special presentation. We planned five individual presentations based on what we felt the donors’ passions and interests were, including election 2020; community issues; and arts and culture.

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Prepare Now for the Coming Corporate Support Rebound

Corporate Support

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We’ve all been through a tough year. We adjusted to a pandemic, worked and stayed safe at home, and brainstormed our way through a very soft economic environment.

But now, it’s time to plan for rebound success.

Radio is still America's #1 reach medium. 90% of all Americans aged 25-54 listen to the radio each week. I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s important to remember the power of reach that radio represents.

Consider that the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) projects $2 billion in podcast ad revenue by 2023, doubling this year’s 2021’s $1 billion. And BIA Advisory Services says that local radio’s digital revenue will grow 9.7% in 2021 and is expected to keep growing.  

Are you ready to raise even more sponsorship than before? Here’s a checklist to help you accelerate preparations for success in FY22.

Review Your Digital Sponsorship Offerings

If you’ve migrated to Grove CMS, it has 300x250 display ads down the right rail, a 728x90 banner at the top, a 320x50 mobile banner, and they’ve added another 300x250 mobile banner.  Why not offer sponsorship of all the ad placements?
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How to Pivot Corporate Support to Meet This Year's Challenges, Part 3

sales strategy, Corporate Support, COVID-19

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Greater Public CEO Joyce MacDonald recently sat down again with Paul Jacobs, VP/General Manager of Jacobs Media, for the third in a series of conversations about disruptions to the public media corporate support landscape (go back and read Part 1 and Part 2). The discussion was designed to take stock of where we are a little over a year into the pandemic and to offer advice for sales teams working towards recovery: 

First the good news: things are better than they were this time last year … 

But, to state the obvious: they are still messy! 

Here are a few tips from the conversation to help you continue to navigate through the uncertainty, keeping this guiding principle top-of-mind:

Just because things are beginning to resemble “normal” life, we are not going back to the way things were. If you are looking at 2021 through a 2019 lens, you are in trouble. 

Consider:

Digital Acceleration

The shift to digital marketing that was taking place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic is now accelerating. This is primarily because many local companies had to learn digital as a survival tactic to literally keep their businesses open during lockdown. In doing so, here's what they learned:

  • Digital marketing is not as hard as they thought, in fact it is pretty easy.
  • Digital marketing offers direct communication with customers, which they like.
  • Digital marketing makes tracking and testing possible, which allows for flexibility of messaging and spend in an uncertain business environment. Again, something they like. 

As a result, they will continue using digital moving forward.

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Antidotes to White Supremacy Culture in Our Organizations

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, leadership, diversity & inclusion

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We work in the culture business. Our individual and collective efforts have the ability to mold the world outside of our industry’s walls. The stories we report, music we air, programs we produce, and events, webinars and experiences we offer to our audiences all add to the narrative of our multifaceted, multi-lensed society. Our programming is like a tapestry; it offers perspectives carefully designed, woven and crafted with different materials, patterned and textured to make something uniquely appealing. Adding our own flair to the public media tapestry is a privilege we all share; we do not take this position lightly. Each of us brings ourselves, past and present, to our work in hopes of creating something meaningful that resonates throughout history.

It is critical we look at culture when thinking about who has access to public media. To do so, we must examine the definition of culture from an everyday perspective and within the workplace. Generally speaking, culture defines our way of life, such as our norms, values, attitudes, customs, vernacular, and the nuances in between, depending on the group in question. In a corporate setting, culture sets the tone for how business is conducted. It ripples across departments and hierarchy, denoting which behaviors are praised and which are deemed unacceptable. In both settings, culture maintains boundaries, whether physical or psychological, tangible or abstract.

Leadership controls the culture. We look to their vision as our main objective while measuring and observing their every move. This includes a litany of things: their public and private behavior; their decision-making processes; their character; what and who they value; where they divert time, attention and resources; the company they keep, and so much more. The list of attributes that encompass their leadership style is endless. The compilation of these traits creates a culture barometer, measuring the efficacy of the entity’s vision.

Much of my time as a consultant is spent untangling conversations, carefully pulling them apart and then piecing information together to get to the crux of an organization’s culture. In some instances, I have separate conversations with multiple people within an organization and find there is a disconnect between the information both parties share. When this happens, it becomes evident that the organization’s communication mechanisms are strained, signaling a potential culture problem. I ask questions about leadership and how supportive they are in creating a workplace environment where everyone receives what they need to be successful. Too often, I hear comments similar to these:

“When I have a question about a project, or have an idea that could help my department or organization, I’m told to stay in my lane.”

“My organization says it supports professional development, but all of my requests are denied. How do I grow if I’m not receiving the training I need?”

“I have glowing performance reviews and am told the department could not function without me, yet I always get passed up for the promotion and I’m always asked to train the new employee hired for the job.”

“My manager asked me for feedback about a project/situation. I came prepared and explained my concerns and solutions in detail. My feedback was never incorporated and my manager never gave me an explanation as to why.”

“My editor is afraid my story, that includes instances of racism, will upset our core audience and wants the story scrapped altogether.”

“Sometimes I feel like I’m not trusted to do the job I was hired to do.”

“The organization’s leadership continues to ignore recommendations from its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, or makes plans without asking for our ideas, insight or opinions.”

“I always have to jump through hoops to get the things I need/my department needs, while other employees/departments get things handed to them without question.”

“How people are promoted is secretive and exclusive.”

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Failing Forward: Learning From Mistakes on the Journey to Anti-Racism

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, leadership, diversity & inclusion

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So often we spend a lot of time thinking about the mistakes that we make, both those we realize on our own and those that others point out. We can spend days replaying a scenario particularly when it is related to race or gender identity. Some describe it as minefields that they are fearful of saying the wrong thing. I want to liberate you and tell you that you WILL make a mistake and you will offend someone. When working in equity and inclusion and striving to build knowledge while moving forward it is important to have a framework of what to do when you make a mistake. This strategy allows you to make amends, to learn and to feel more courage to take risks and make mistakes in the future. 

During a webinar I was once asked this question: “I have run into situations where a name is unfamiliar to me (e.g. I recently hosted a panel and one of the panelists had a Vietnamese name I hadn’t heard before). I struggle with having to ask someone multiple times to pronounce their name because it feels disrespectful but I am asking because I genuinely want to get it right. Any tips on how to handle this situation?”

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Maximize Streaming Audio Sponsorship Now More Than Ever

Corporate Support, digital sponsorship

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If you have been thinking about adding streaming audio pre-rolls to your mix of digital sponsorship offerings, now is the time to jump in and  jump in all the way.  If you have just been offering a “baked in” single or dual streaming audio sponsorship and are only selling it to one or two sponsors,  it’s time to change to dynamic pre-roll insertion and sell to multiple sponsors.  

Stations can more than make up the monthly service cost for dynamically inserted streaming audio pre-rolls through added sponsorship sales and increased digital revenue.  Borrell Associates recently released “The 2021 Mindset of Streaming Audio Advertisers,” including their survey of 2,262 local advertisers and agencies conducted in Q2 and Q3 2020.  The results showed that almost half of local agencies were buying streaming audio, while only 11% of local advertisers were doing the same. This may indicate that streaming audio is currently bought by more sophisticated marketers, but is starting to gain traction on direct buys, too.  With smart speakers now in over 87.7 million U.S. households (up over 32% year over year) and the ubiquitous use of smart phones, it just makes sense to capture the most sponsorship revenue you can with streaming audio.

The Borrell Associates study mentioned above goes on to show that half of streaming audio sponsorship buyers are in arts & entertainment, retail, civic organizations, and health care.  Most of these are strong public media sponsorship categories. And indicators suggest that streaming audio buyers have bigger budgets.

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The Need for Sustainers Is Bigger Than You Think

sustainers, Membership

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NPR News stations have a fundraising opportunity they’ve never had before and might never have again: the opportunity is to turn significantly more listeners into sustaining givers. Why now? On March 11th, David Giovannoni, President of Audigraphics, Inc. and longtime public radio researcher, wrote in Current that “The events of the last 10 months have accelerated longstanding trends in listeners’ relationships with their NPR News stations. Today listeners to NPR News stations rely more on these stations than ever. The programming is more important to them than ever.” 

Audience 98 showed us that listening causes giving. But listeners give only when they become core listeners, and even then it can take up to a decade (or more) for a listener to become a giver. It’s clear that the time to translate increased loyalty into sustaining giving is now. 

Seizing upon increased loyalty to create more sustainers isn’t just something we can do, it’s something we must do. The revenue stability we can create from increasing sustainers will be a necessity as we grapple with changing listening habits and a greater-than-ever imperative to build new audiences.

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