Beverly James

Greater Public Corporate Support Advisor
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Recent Posts

A Letter of Inspiration to Corporate Support Professionals

Corporate Support

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During the past four years as a corporate support advisor, I have been inspired, humbled and often amused by those of you who work to make public radio viable in a challenging media landscape. There are three things, in particular, about public media sales professionals that have been proven true again and again for me. I want to share these with you to remind you of the success and inspiration you carry into your work each day.

1. Your passion is everything.

Whether you represent a AAA community station or a mega-market NPR affiliate, your passion for your product overcomes all obstacles. (Advertising agencies aside, right?) I’ve talked to salespeople in small Midwest markets with a decidedly conservative population and marveled at their ability to keep telling their story with a smile on their faces and determination in their hearts.

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How to Use a Rate Card to Show Your Value to Sponsors

pricing, Corporate Support

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We get a lot of questions here at Greater Public about rate cards. Seems like lots of sales managers aren’t too happy with what they offer, and many reps don’t really know how to use them. Rates are subject to change at any moment, so is it even worth it to have them?

Most stations consider a rate card to be an internal document, but it has important external uses as well. The rate card provides documented valuation of your inventory. Because of the supply-and-demand nature of what we sell in radio, rates are going to change. You can discount off of the rates on your card, or you can raise rates for certain periods of time during high demand. In times of normal demand, when a new client calls in, your sales reps should know what a spot in Morning Drive is worth. That is when the rate card hanging over their desk is useful.

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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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Three Ways the Data You Already Have Can Increase Corporate Support Prospects

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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As a salesperson, you probably don’t analyze data like your manager does. You may not know how to access data easily and wonder what you’d want to do that for anyway. After all, that’s not your job, right?

I beg to differ. Having been “on the streets” for most of my career, I know how hard it is to get new clients on the air. I know how time-consuming it can be to find good prospects, and how frustrating it can be to fall short of an annual goal at the end of the year; there goes my bonus!

Well, data can help you! There are several things you can analyze on your own throughout the year to help you find new prospects and stay on-track.

1. Examine your biggest categories.

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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 an FCC Copy Violation Is Never Worth the Risk

PMDMC, credit copy, FCC, Corporate Support

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Underwriting credit copy is hard to get right. FCC copy guidelines are rarely black and white and evaluating copy closely can take time and thoughtful discussion. The blurry middle ground of sponsor messaging can result in tricky conversations with sponsors, many of whom have strong preferences about how their spot is worded. Some sponsors want to walk right up to the edge of the FCC’s guidelines. And some misunderstand public media underwriting altogether. For as appealing as public media underwriting is compared with traditional advertising, navigating the restrictions of credit copy can be just plain hard. 

It may be tempting to look past these complexities in the interest of keeping sponsors happy and saving time. But two experts who specialize in FCC law, Garvey Schubert Barer Principal and Managing Director Brad Deutsch and PBS Director of Funding Policy Dan O'Melia, emphasized during a recent session at the 2019 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference that the long-term financial and time costs of being found out of compliance by the FCC can be crippling for some organizations.

This was a timely discussion as all public broadcasters will be up for license renewal over the coming two to five years. Brad pointed out that there is no FCC “Big Brother” watching; The FCC doesn’t have compliance officers checking stations around the country. FCC complaints are issued by our listeners and community. Every station up for license renewal must air messages essentially saying that if anyone has any problems with the station, they should call the FCC to complain. Those announcements may be heard by disgruntled past employees, competitors, or simply listeners who believe we are getting too commercial-sounding. So, it is important to get our ducks in a row.

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Four Ways to Coach Your Struggling Sales Rep Back to Success

managers, Corporate Support

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One of the many roles a sales manager has is coaching their sales reps. This is an ongoing effort that can be easy or challenging or downright impossible depending on where the rep is at any given moment. And sales managers know that there are very few days when one of their reps doesn’t need a little extra support. Whether a sales rep is experiencing a string of rejections, personal problems, or an unexplained slump, a good manager can help get them through the down times.

Managers are responsible to stations for revenue. They set budgets, give reps their individual goals, and sometimes hope for the best. It’s part art, part science, and part bowing to pressure from above. Great managers clearly communicate what is expected and try to make sure each person has the tools they need to reach these goals.

When something goes sideways for a rep, that is when the coaching comes into play. Reps want to make goals and earn commission and/or bonuses. They want to be winners, not whiners! Unless they are simply behaving badly by not showing up on time, missing deadlines, or not doing reports, all of which are pretty easy to identify and correct, we have to help them find the answers.

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Three Trends That Prove You’re Not in the Radio (or TV) Business Anymore

Corporate Support

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Paul Jacobs recently shared conclusions about the future of corporate support revenue based on years of research and data analysis. Jacobs is vice president/general manager of Jacobs Media, which has provided programming, digital, sales, and social media consulting to commercial and public radio stations for the past 35 years. Jacobs Media is also home to the Halo Effect research we use every day. His conclusions underscore some essential - and imminent - realities about the way we sell underwriting in today’s media environment.

  1. People have many more ways to spend their time with media today than they ever have in the past. Radio accounts for 17% of all media consumption, and this holds true across all ages. While the car remains the main place people listen, 20% of smart speaker owners say they are listening to a little more or a lot more radio, which speaks to more in-home listening. Of course, the days of two bands and five presets on the dashboard are over. The amount of content and content sources competing for listeners’ attention is vast.
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Great Sales Managers Are the Result of Great Training

training, Corporate Support, General Management

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I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review Daily Alert titled “Why New Sales Managers Need More Training” by Andris A. Zoltners, Prabhakant Sinha and Sally E. Lorimer. The article really resonated with me, especially when they mentioned the Peter Principal where “companies promote their best salespeople to become their worst managers.”

I was that person - a top salesperson who wanted to be a manager - and then quickly learned that I was not good at it! The things that made me great at one thing were not the skills needed to be a successful at the other. Fortunately for me, I worked for an organization that offered strong mentoring and training, and so I was able to acquire the skills to transition into management.

In smaller public media operations, the above scenario plays out every day: A sales manager retires or steps down, the station scrambles to get someone in place ASAP, and the first place they look is internally. Who is our best rep?

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Secrets of the Best Sales Reps: Systems

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting

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I used to work for a guy who would ask one key question during the interview process: “What makes you good at what you do?” If the candidate couldn’t articulate that, he wasn’t interested in hiring them. When I asked him about it, he said that really good salespeople have a self-awareness of why they are successful that makes their behavior repeatable. And this is the key: Do you know what you do when you win, and can you do it again…and again...and again?

As sales reps we need to know what brings us success so that we can repeat that behavior. Having good systems is one of the best ways to do that. Systems allow you to build self-awareness of why and how prospects choose to do business with you. You can be the most charming and persuasive person, but if you can’t keep track of yourself, those wins will merely be luck- and not necessarily repeatable.


For active accounts, you should have a way to track past, current, and future billing. Are they spending more each year, the same, or less? Do you know why? You need to offer excellent service to your active accounts which includes meeting their copy needs and knowing when to change the message.

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