Answers to Most-Asked Questions From the PMDMC19 Underwriting Basics Cohort

PMDMC, credit copy, Corporate Support

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When a group of sales reps and managers gathered at this year's Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) to explore and reconnect with the essentials of underwriting, these were the questions they felt were most urgent to their daily work:

How do I get underwriting renewals or increases?

  • Think of how well your membership department has converted members into sustainers. Instead of treating sponsors simply as renewals, steward them like public media marketing-campaign sustainers. Also, weave in components that are valuable to them like digital media, or sponsorship of a station event.

How long should I wait to follow up with an underwriter? How long is too long to not talk with them personally?

  • When your underwriter has signed an annual agreement, ask how often he/she would like to meet with you. Whatever the underwriter says, increase it by one or two times.
  • When a new underwriter signs up for a year, your first follow-up should be two to three weeks after the schedule begins.

How can I close faster?

  • Make sure you’re talking from the start with the person who has the authority and the budget to make a buying decision.
  • Do they have a need?
  • Do they have a time frame?
  • Assess up front: Are their company’s mission and/or vision statements compatible with those of your station?

How can I identify new underwriting prospects?

Check out Greater Public’s Underwriting Category Study for the categories that offer the most potential for stations.[Continued below...]

Download Underwriting ROI research slides >>>

The top public radio underwriting categories for all radio formats are:

  1. Education
  2. Healthcare
  3. Performing Arts
  4. Entertainment
  5. Retail

What are some of the most important FCC copy rules?

  • Announcements containing price information are not permissible. This includes any indication of savings or value associated with the product. 
  • Announcements containing a call to action are not permissible. 
  • Qualitative wording is not acceptable.
  • Announcements containing an inducement to buy, sell, rent, or lease are not permissible. 
  • Slogans that identify but do not promote are generally acceptable as long as they meet the same guidelines as any copy.

What are FCC rules for streaming and web ads?

  • The FCC’s rules for underwriting copy are for broadcast media only. When creating your station’s policy for acceptable content in audio and video pre-rolls, live streaming and web ads, consider the sound and look of your website and your station.
  • Some stations follow FCC copy guidelines for pre-rolls, live streaming and web ads; some stations allow for more of a ‘commercial’ sound and look.

How should I deal with resistance to copy regulations?

  • If an underwriting prospect wants copy that isn’t acceptable, and the buy is in jeopardy, you need to remind your prospect of the reason for underwriting in the first place: to reach a highly desirable audience. 
  • The most important copy information is who the sponsor is and what they offer (their business, products and/or services). This information is best appreciated by the public radio audience when described in a straight-forward, non-promotional manner.
  • Ultimately, an underwriting message is actually the station’s acknowledgement of their financial support for the station.

If I'm an underwriting sales manager, what type of individual should I be recruiting as an underwriting salesperson?

  •   Listener/viewer of public radio, TV
  •   Passion for the media
  •   Media or related sales experience        

Download Underwriting ROI research slides >>>

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