Nurture Your Underwriting Client Relationships After the Close

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting

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You’ve worked hard to sign up your new underwriter. You started with an initial meeting to learn about her challenges and objectives. Then you followed up with information how your media can provide a solution targeting her desired outcome. She liked your presentation and proposal; your answers to her questions, and she decided to become an underwriter.

What do you do now?

Believe it or not, the sale is not complete. The commitment is there but you’ve not yet started to deliver what she purchased. So, next up… 

Write up the underwriting agreement and have it signed and returned to you.

Corporate Support Administrative Templates

Draft the underwriting copy so it conveys her marketing message and complies with the FCC’s and your station’s copy guidelines. Once the copy is approved, send her a recording of the spot. Let her know she can share it with her employees and post it on her company’s website. 

Send her a schedule of times that her underwriting spots will air during the first week so she’ll know when to listen in to hear her spot.

After the contract is signed, the copy is produced and ready for airing, and you’ve sent her the list of when her spots will air during the first week you’re all done. Right?

There’s still more work to be done.

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How to Monetize Your Podcast With Grants

Corporate Support, podcast, foundation support, digital sponsorship, philanthropy

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It’s been said that we’re living in the Golden Age of Podcasting. This relatively new medium has exploded in popularity; those who listen are often super-fans. There’s a natural fit between corporate sponsorship and big-name podcasts like Serial and Death, Sex and Money. But for many of our smaller startups, securing podcast sponsorship is an absolute challenge.

If you haven’t yet grown your audience numbers to attract a business sponsor or your community just isn’t quite “podcast savvy,” there’s another funding option that might be perfect for you: securing grants.

The good news is that if you are a grant writer, getting a grant for a podcast is no different than getting one for any other project. And if you are in sales, making a case for funding to a foundation is much like making the pitch to a potential underwriter or sponsor, as long as you have honed your writing skills.

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The Good Things We're Doing With Our Member Survey (And How You Can Survey Too!)

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, marketing, surveys

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This September, Greater Public surveyed our members with the goal of determining how well we were serving them in our four main resource areas: our website, our ongoing webinar series, our professional advising team, and Benchmarks for public media. We serve fundraisers in public media - the ones who make sure public and community radio have the means to serve listeners - and we want to ensure we’re providing the best information and cutting-edge ideas so that they may succeed and, ultimately, public media succeeds. In this post, I’ll be sharing some of the raw data that our survey yielded, along with our own impressions of what it means, why it’s important, and what we’re doing to make our resources better.

We all take surveys (or are asked to!) and we almost never see what companies are doing with them. We want to be transparent about the feedback we get and what we’re doing about it. We also know many of our members also conduct surveys and we want to reveal how we go about doing ours so you can see too.

As we reviewed the results, we found that few criticisms were truly surprising to us. We had a sense for where we needed to do better before the survey went out, and had begun work on several projects that our survey-takers said they needed. We also discovered some new areas for improvement. Surveys can serve many purposes: to illuminate things going wrong you didn't know about, or reinforce what you already knew about needed changes. If you decide to take on a survey, know that the feedback can provide credibility and urgency when you need to, for example, request additional resources to make something better.

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Tips for Getting the Best Copy on the Air, Every Time

Corporate Support, credit copy, halo effect

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We all know that the most successful credit copy - for stations and sponsors - is brief, concise, uncluttered, and consistent with the public radio tone. And yet some of our copy on-air isn’t hitting all of those marks. Sometimes it’s because we need to write better copy from the start. And sometimes good copy gets questioned before it gets to air. So how do we write the best copy and make sure that’s what our audience hears? Here are some tips.  

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Molly Davis’s Top Four Recommendations for Achieving Meteoric Growth With Benchmarks

Membership, General Management, Corporate Support, Major Giving, Benchmarks for Public Radio Fundraising

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Molly Davis says the first year was the hardest. It was also what set her station on a course for unprecedented fundraising growth.

The assistant general manager at 88.5 WFDD in North Carolina has overseen her station's data entry for Benchmarks for Public Radio Fundraising for the past four years. In order to receive her customized report, Davis was charged with gathering audience, expense, and revenue numbers from several different departments within the organization. Finding the right numbers to enter that first year was, frankly, hard.

The Challenges

WFDD is a university licensee; some of the raw data Davis needed was provided by staff members in campus financial services, who weren’t fully versed in the public radio business model or in the purpose of Benchmarks reports. When she reviewed her station’s past reports, she discovered their data had been entered both incorrectly and inconsistently. A key feature of Benchmarks is the ability to analyze year-over-year performance to highlight areas of opportunity. She began to take detailed notes on how each point of data should be calculated and where it came from (use our handy worksheet for your own notes). This would save anyone coming after her from the confusion she faced; it also vastly simplified her process the following year.

The Roadmap

After completing (and documenting) her data-entry process, Davis received her station’s report. It showed several areas where WFDD could be performing better. Some might have read the results with disappointment. Not Davis.

“We had loads of potential,” she remembers. “I pulled out that report and said here’s where we are. We are leaving money on the table.”

The Payoff

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Underwriting Category Update: Automotive

Automotive, Corporate Support

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The automotive industry has long made for challenging underwriting prospects. Car dealers don’t tend to understand the value of public media as a complement to their commercial media mix, and a sales call can quickly get hijacked by a discussion of the things we can’t do, rather than proceed as a productive conversation about the unique marketing value we can offer such a business. Sound familiar?

But where are we now with automotive and public radio underwriting?

In the most recent Greater Public Category Study (2013), automotive was not a top category for most stations (AAA stations were a notable exception), but it did represent an opportunity for growth across the board.

A recent conversation among larger-market stations offered a quick snapshot into the opportunities and challenges associated with this business category in 2018, which can apply to all public media stations.

1. For the most part, success is variable.

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How Your Board Can Help Secure Underwriting Sponsors

Corporate Support, board of directors, underwriting prospect

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Your station likely has a board of directors or trustees that can greatly help your efforts to bring in underwriting revenue. Who wouldn’t want that kind of help? But, you'll first need to bring them up to speed about underwriting and its importance to your station.

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Position the Wins of Public Media Sponsorship Against the Trend of Programmatic Ad-Buying

Corporate Support, programmatic buying, sales strategy

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The digital media environment continues to change at a rapid pace. In order to sell digital sponsorship with confidence, we need to stay ahead of the pace of change by educating ourselves about the latest trends.

The trend toward programmatic ad buying continues to increase, and this is a bit of a pain point for us in public media. Because of our language restrictions, we can't wholeheartedly embrace this trend alongside other advertisers. 

Clients who engage in programmatic buying are using a publisher or ad network/agency to set a determined budget, upper/lower CPM, and start/end dates. The process is self-service so when the buyer clicks "go," the buy is executed automatically, non-stop, until the budget or end-date is reached. 

If you're talking to a prospect about digital sponsorship, you should assume they're engaging in some sort of programmatic buying. Common platforms are through Google and Facebook, but the practice is becoming more universal. In fact, an April report from eMarketer shows that $46 billion will be spent on programmatic advertising this year, meaning that 82.5 percent of digital display ads in the U.S. will be purchased through automated channels.

This doesn't mean there's not a valuable place for public media sponsorship.

Radio advertisers like digital.

There a strong case to be made to your clients for broadcast and digital to be sold together. Why? Because:

  • Merging broadcasting and digital gives additional reach and/or repetition.
  • 85% of radio advertisers also buy digital (RAB and BA 2017).
  • Digital generates 7.5% of average station revenue (RAB and BA 2017). This will grow as digital migration continues.
  • Public media’s audience, content, community, and uncluttered environment still entice buyers.

Be ready to position against programmatic.

Programmatic has a low barrier to entry, is low-maintenance, and increasingly common. But it  does have its weaknesses.  Significant percentages of media buyers cites the following - legitimate - concerns about programmatic: (eMarketer 2017)
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How Radio Underwriting Serves the Sponsor Like No Other Medium Does

Corporate Support, prospecting

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“A lot of buyers want to get back into TV, radio, out-of-home, and print because they feel like digital can get lost. The most accountable media turned into the least accountable media and the most filled with fraud.”

- Havas CEO ColinKinsella

Many of us have sensed similar shifting perceptions from buyers about digital advertising. They are aware of ROI limitations in the digital space. And those of us selling radio underwriting often play right into their ambivalence when we don’t use directness, precision, and education about the medium of radio to address their most fundamental question: Will my underwriting work?

Paul Jacobs recently explored this topic in at blog post titled “Can Radio Have Its Cake & Eat It, Too?” He says radio may have an advantage when buyers shimmy back and forth on the question of branding or reach in the digital space. Radio delivers for underwriters in ways that aren’t directly replicated by other options. Here’s how you can speak persuasively to those advantages in your conversations with prospects:

1. Don’t lose sight of how singular radio is as a medium.

Do we truly understand the broader story of our medium-the story of radio? Radio is a unique medium because of the intimacy and theater of the mind that we invoke. This is particularly true on public radio, when our member listeners put such a high level of trust in our product, whether it’s NPR news or music curation. Listeners almost universally have a picture in their mind of what an on-air announcer looks like. This speaks to their connection to the voice and to us.

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Use Data to Skillfully Manage Down... and Up

PMDMC, Corporate Support, managers

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Every sales manager knows that managing up is as important as managing the reps who report to you.  When the day comes that you are given a budget that you know in your heart is impossible to reach, how do you motivate your team when you don’t believe you can reach the goal? Changing this dynamic was the topic of the 2018 PMDMC 2018 session "Managing Budget Expectations for Your Sales Reps."

Jared Blass from Atlanta Public Broadcasting, Tracy Roe from NET Nebraska, and Tom Smith from KEXP in Seattle shared their advice, offered great worksheets (available in the slides) and emphasized the key role data can play in setting expectations for your sales reps and for your superiors. 

Position your department at budget time.

In fact, telling your department story throughout the year and not just at budget time is important. Make an effort to educate your upper management team on key data such as:

  • Pacing by station/product
  • New business
  • Attrition
  • Renewal

This allows a better understanding of the numbers to set realistic budgeting goals accordingly.

Tom Smith says, “Share your data, all the time, good or bad.  #Sharing is caring!”

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