After a recent lively one-on-one conversation with Greater Public CEO Joyce MacDonald, Vice President and General Manager of Jacobs Media, Paul Jacobs, answered some additional questions from station colleagues across the system about corporate support efforts in the wake of challenges from the past year.
Q. You suggested on the webinar that stations should "promote local business.” I don't disagree, but is it legal for public stations to say 'shop local' on the air? And, even if legal, is it wise? Doesn't that undercut the messages from most if not all our national underwriters?
Jacobs: I’m the last person you should ask about legalities so I’ll leave that up to other smart people. Let’s face it, Amex does a ton of business with Target and Wal-Mart, and they just sponsored “Small Business Saturday.” Shopping local not only appeals to local businesses, it is in sync with your local audience. As media becomes more nationalized, there’s benefit to reminding the audience you are local and care about the community where you both live.
“Shop Local” can also take many forms. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on the air. It can be an online initiative. For example, Louisville Public Media calls their effort the “Sponsor Market.”
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Q: Regarding the online shopping guides, I assume that stations are charging for businesses to be listed in these guides. It might be a bonus for existing clients, but also an opportunity to generate some revenue from smaller businesses that can't afford on-air sponsorship. How do you recommend pricing this?
Jacobs: It’s early, so the model isn’t fully formed. In our conversations with some of our clients, here are the various ideas to generate revenue:
Title sponsorship of the entire guide
Enhanced listings: listings that are in bold or have a border to help them stand out from the listing.
Charge by the listing. Believe it or not, this could ultimately be the most profitable model, as it is scalable and repeatable. But we don’t know what a reasonable price is. We’ve been talking about $50-$100/month, a very small upsell. At $50, if you got 100 clients that would be $60,000 for the year. And you could turn it into an automatic credit card payment so you wouldn’t have to bill it or collect it. This version is designed for Downtown Business Associations, but the concept is the same.