The Paradox of Bias in Marketing and Fundraising

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, marketing, implicit bias

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Bias is a tricky thing. 

We all have it, and sometimes that’s okay and sometimes it’s not. 

For marketing and fundraising professionals, this nuanced understanding of bias is even more important because cognitive biases are so often used in marketing and fundraising efforts to nudge potential donors into giving. But without any examination of the unintended consequences of such efforts, our tactics to get more donors or more dollars can reinforce harmful stereotypes. In addition, the demographics of the United States are changing, and public media needs to represent and engage new audiences if it wants to survive. 

So let’s break down what bias is exactly, and how we can use it responsibly and ethically.

Harvard professor Mahzarin Banaji beautifully sums up her decades-long research on implicit bias as “the thumbprint of culture on the brain.” In brief, implicit bias occurs because our brains are powerful machines that process millions of data points outside of our conscious awareness and make meaning out of that data in lightning fast time. It’s how we slam the breaks when we see a red light without “thinking” about it. But it can also lead to a “gut” feeling that a person is “bad” and we don’t realize that it’s because of the media images we’ve been fed about a certain race or culture. Implicit bias has gotten re-branded as unconscious bias in popular culture (despite the inaccuracy of the name, as many of our biases are triggered subconsciously, not when we’re asleep), and has come to be short-hand for the type of bias that leads to discrimination.

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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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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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Understanding if Credit Copy Is Governed by FCC Regulations or Station/Other Policy

Federal Communications Commission, credit copy, FCC, Corporate Support

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At Greater Public we get many questions about FCC copy regulations, and sometimes those questions actually relate to station policy rather than the FCC guidelines themselves. But which guidelines are enforced by the FCC and which are ones restricted by individual station policy may surprise you.

Test your knowledge about a few of these rules with the questions below.  Are these FCC restrictions or are they implemented by the public media station or its university (or other licensee’s) policy?

1. Is it ok for a nonprofit underwriter to mention their own calendar year-end or other seasonal fundraising campaign?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

2. Are there special provisions for nonprofit underwriters?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

3. Can factual statements of awards be mentioned in a credit?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

4. Are announcements for alcohol, and tobacco, and/or e-cig/vaping companies allowed?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

5. Are personal pronouns allowed?

 ܏ Governed by FCC regulations
 ܏ Governed by station/other policy

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Leading With Influence and Persuasion in Public Media

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, leadership

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Leadership roles in public media are often very challenging and complex. Whether you’re a GM, a PD, marketing director, underwriting director, or membership director, we are all responsible for creating strategies and painting a vision. However, when leading a team, creating consensus and alignment is not an easy task.

My go-to source for enhancing my ability to persuade people without coercion, is a book titled “The Art of Woo.” The authors Mario Moussa and G. Richard Shell both teach at the Wharton School. “Woo” refers to the ability to “Win Others Over.” It’s this ability to persuade, according to the book, that allows us to achieve our business goals.

Develop Trusting Internal Business Relationships

Woo is basically relationship-based persuasion: a strategic process for getting people’s attention, presenting your ideas, and obtaining approval for your plans and projects. Face-to-face meetings are the best way to develop trusting relationships. Such settings enable people to catch nonverbal cues such as voice-tone, body language, and emotional emphasis.

Cultivate Self-Awareness 

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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.

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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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The Link Between Cause Marketing and Underwriting Client Needs

Corporate Support, marketing

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Originally published on The Center for Sales Strategy Blog on September 12, 2016

Cause Marketing is a buzzword bandied about by many in the nonprofit sector. To some, the concept is a proven method to help organizations solve business problems via an association with a worthwhile cause. To others, it is merely a tactic designed to pitch and sell sponsorships to nonprofit events and initiatives.

In order for a nonprofit development officer to engage in cause marketing successfully, they need to take some time to understand the needs of their prospect before presenting a proposal and asking for money. This understanding enables the development of a proposal customized for the prospect based on a business problem, challenge or opportunity. Simply put, one does not exist without the other: Without an understanding of needs, cause marketing cannot happen and the ask is merely just another ask.

“Seek first to understand then be understood.” Stephen Covey

Many nonprofit development officers ask before they assess needs. For example, it is all too easy to ask a financial institution to sponsor a nonprofit initiative based on belief in the nonprofit mission instead of taking the time to discover that the financial institution is launching an new credit card and needs help with applications. Imagine the power of linking this need with a nonprofit event —like a fun run or walk— that attracts thousands of credit-worthy people. This transforms the ask into win-win proposition that helps the cause and the corporate partner!

Here’s a step-by-step process that world-class nonprofit revenue developers follow to understand client needs. Feel free to take it for a test drive:

Build Rapport

  • Make a personal connection, establish some rapport.
  • Set up the conversation (clarify expectations, yours and theirs).
  • Keep your agenda brief (make reference to the valid business reason you used to set the meeting).
  • Discuss how you do business.
  • Ask some easy-to-answer, not-risky questions to continue establishing your credibility.
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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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Staying on Top of Trends in Advertising and Marketing

sales strategy, Corporate Support, underwriting prospect

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When I started working in sales in commercial media, about the year 40 BC (Before Computers), it wasn’t uncommon to ask a prospective advertiser for recent copies of the trade magazines they subscribed to. That was how almost every salesperson learned about the prospect’s industry and business. Back then the prospect was willing and had time to talk about it with sales reps.

Times have changed.

Now, prospects are bombarded by media sales reps. Think about it. In almost every city there may be about 30 salespeople representing various radio and TV stations, and a half dozen or so from the daily, local, and business papers. Add in another dozen sales reps from billboard companies, direct mail and marketing businesses, cable TV, and online marketing companies. It’s easy to understand that a business owner or their marketing person is being called on by dozens of media sales reps every month. Businesses don’t have the time to educate every salesperson about their business, nor should they have to do that. That’s our responsibility.

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