Finding Ways to Meet Sponsors’ Needs During a Pandemic

event sponsorship, Corporate Support, marketing, COVID-19

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Greater Public spoke with Joyce Cotton, director of marketing and community partnership at WEDU/PBS TV. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cotton has relied on many of the techniques she’s honed over decades in the industry, combined with inspiring new ideas for how to serve sponsors, her station, and the community. Here are some of the practices - old and new - that have helped her meet sponsors’ needs in valuable ways. 

Lean into Sponsor Relationships During Hard Times

Over the years, I have been involved in the Tampa Bay community which has given me the opportunity to have a greater understanding of the issues that are of concern in the local community. At the start of the pandemic, I realized that this was going to be a time of change and uncertainty for everyone. I was a natural at adapting and adjusting to change. We have a relatively small underwriting team and I handle most of the arts venues which were shut down immediately. So, maybe two thirds of my business was impacted. I reached out to each community partner in an email. I said, “I understand your situation, if you need help with something, just let me know. We are all in this together.”

Because of the relationship that I have with my clients, some of them reached out to me, including an area restaurant that’s long supported WEDU. They asked if we could produce a spot to let their customers know that, although the restaurant was closed, their chef was preparing family dinners for curbside pick-up. A family-owned catering company changed their on-air message to encourage the donation of catered meals to the doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers who were caring for COVID-19 patients in area hospitals. 

I am fortunate to have developed ongoing community partnerships. For example, since the opening of the Glazer Children’s Museum 10 years ago, we, along with our education department, host bi-monthly “Free Tuesday” events on-site that include PBS Kids activities, character appearances, mobile labs with iPads featuring PBS Kids games apps, take-home educational resources for families, and free books for the kids. We have 2,000 - 3,000 people at each event. The museum recently reopened with a Wild Kratts exhibit in March [of this year] and will have the Daniel Tiger exhibit opening in the summer. Although we are not hosting the “Free Tuesday” events due to the limited capacity, the marketing director contacted me about this natural tie-in to continue our partnership and the museum is recognizing WEDU PBS as a sponsor of both exhibits. They have committed a $10,000 cash underwriting schedule to promote the reopening and assure families that they can come back safely.

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WXPN's Virtual 5k Brings Surprising Results

event sponsorship, Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, marketing, Audience Engagement

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, events have gone virtual. From screenings to concerts and 5k runs, we’ve all been scrambling to figure out the best way to transition to this new model.

Last fall, WXPN successfully did just that, for its Musicians on Call campaign, in partnership with a national organization by the same name. The results were impressive, particularly when it came to participation. With approximately 200 more participating in its annual 5k fundraiser this time, many were listeners who lived too far from Philadelphia to join past runs, but were signing up now.

“We’re a big supporter of the local music community,” says WXPN’s Director of Marketing, Kimberly Winnick, who is responsible for raising funds for the program. “It’s one of the reasons we got involved with Musicians on Call. Our mission is to connect artists and audiences, and build, serve and engage the community. With a large community of local musicians and passionate volunteers, we knew we could build and sustain the volunteer staffing needs for this program. It’s a perfect fit for us.”

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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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How Public Radio Stations Fund Events (and How Yours Can Too)

event sponsorship, Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, philanthropy

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We’re seeing a clear trend in public radio: more stations are experimenting with live content events, and we’re doing so in new and interesting ways. We’re also trying new ways to fund our events. A funding source can greatly affect how an event is executed, who the stakeholders are, and what it’s trying to achieve.

Over the last year, I co-authored a national survey of 14 stations around the country that included the question: where does your money come from to support content events?

We asked stations to evaluate six funding sources as unimportant, marginal, important, and most important, and followed up with interviews to understand the rankings.

We’ll also share how stations can successfully pursue categories of event funding that are not already part of their mix.

Here are the categories and the percentage of stations that deem them to be “important” or “most important” sources of funding:

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Your One-Stop Price List for Station Event Sponsorship

event sponsorship, Corporate Support

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Do you remember when sponsors of your station’s events were content with just having their corporate logo on signage visible to the people who attended? You’d hang their company’s banner featuring their logo in a prominent location at the event and say, “that was easy!”

Now, sponsors want more. 

They want a presence at the event, including the opportunity for product sampling and face-time with the people who come to your station’s event, whether it’s a lecture, wine or beer tasting, musical concert, or other type of event. Businesses like event marketing through which they can directly engage the people to participate in a brand experience. 

Prospective sponsors also want to be recognized in all of the various promotional aspects of the event: on-air, online, in print, and at the event. And, yes, they still want their logo prominently displayed at the event venue.

The good news is that businesses recognize the value of being an event sponsor and are willing - and have budgets - to pay for them. 

So, what value do you put on the various promotional elements of the sponsorship?

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A Start-to-Finish Guide to Securing Corporate Sponsorship for Your Station Event

event sponsorship, pricing, halo effect, Corporate Support, digital revenue, marketing

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What’s involved in selling event sponsorships? These 10 steps will help you determine the value of a sponsorship, find prospects, write a proposal, sell the sponsorship, and fulfill the agreement after the sponsorship is sold.

1. When planning your station event, keep sponsors in mind.

When you're planning your station event, keep in mind that corporate sponsorship is a form of brand advertising. The underlying intention of sponsorship is to create positive associations between the corporate brand and your station in the mind of the consumer. That’s the “Halo Effect.” You can do this, as you may have done in the past, by selling naming rights to the event or displaying sponsors’ corporate logos at your events and in your media when you promote the event.

2. Identify your assets.

What are the assets that can bring value to your sponsors? If the event is at your station or another venue, take a walk through the venue and make a list of the potential places where you can have a sponsor’s company name, logo or a presence at the event. Typical places for promotion include hanging banners over entrances, sponsors’ booths or tables at the event, sponsors’ logos, listings or advertisements in programs that are used by participants. The potential for where you can put a sponsor’s name or logo placement can be just about anything.

Of course you have media and other assets where you can put sponsors’ names or logos which are of value to sponsors:

  • Your radio/TV promos for the event
  • Logo / name on VIP passes
  • Signage at the entrance to the parking lot
  • Admission tickets or invitation
  • Booth, table or display area
  • Logo / name on T-shirts, posters or other keepsakes
  • Sampling opportunity
  • Mailing list
  • PA announcements
  • PBS Kids programs characters appearances
  • Website
  • E-newsletter
  • Mobile apps
  • Print or online magazine / logo recognition
  • Broadcast radio / TV underwriting schedule

In addition to the use of media and logo placement, identify other opportunities, such as meeting and having photos taken with guest celebrities, or access to exclusive areas like backstage passes.

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Five Ways to Wow Your Event Sponsors With First-Rate Execution

event sponsorship, Corporate Support, marketing

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Most public broadcasters produce many special events throughout the year. If your job includes the responsibility to make sure all your sponsors are taken care of, from benefits fulfillment to on-site support and post-event follow-up, how can you keep all those balls in the air without dropping them?

To keep so many details and deadlines in place, you need to make a plan and then work the plan. Here are some of the best practices we use at our sponsorship agency to keep many details organized and make sure sponsors are happy.

1. Assign a point person.

Sponsorship fulfillment needs to be the responsibility of a specific person, whether staff or volunteer, responsible for the “care & feeding” of sponsors. Often it will not be the person who “sold” the sponsorship. This needs to be an exclusive or significant part of their job while the event is occurring.

Generally, I look for a person who is customer-service oriented, an organized, “detail person,” a good communicator -- someone who will serve as the sponsor’s advocate and resource person, and be a problem-solver.

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The Best Formula to Calculate the Sponsorship Fee for Your Next Event

event sponsorship, halo effect, Corporate Support, marketing

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Guest post by Bruce Erley, APR, CFEE

Most likely, part of your job as an event manager for your station is to sell sponsorship. Most people don’t mind calling people and telling them about their events, but many have absolutely no idea if the fee they are asking for is worth it!

Determining the correct value for a sponsorship proposal is essential. Not only will the sponsorship decision-maker see through a wild guess, but you will be more confident knowing that you have a fairly-priced sponsorship opportunity that you can defend.

The first thing to know is that the price you set for a sponsorship package is not based upon how much you need to raise, nor what something costs you. Many event managers make the mistake of determining a sponsor fee by adding up the cost of an event asset - say, a children’s stage - and setting the sponsor fee to recoup those costs.

Instead, the fee of a sponsorship should be based upon:

  • The opportunity you are providing the sponsor

  • The package of accompanying rights and benefits

The good news is that by determining a value of sponsorship in this manner, the appropriate fee is almost always far greater than the cost of the asset or activation.

There are three factors that go into setting a sponsorship fee.

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Five Secrets to Marketing Events to Millennials

event sponsorship, Corporate Support, social media, marketing

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Guest post by Bruce Erley, APR, CFEE

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You Gotta Know When to Hold 'Em and When to Fold 'Em

event sponsorship, PMDMC, sales strategy, Corporate Support, marketing

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Guest post by Bruce Erley, President & CEO, Creative Strategies Group

With more than three decades in sponsorship sales and consultation, Bruce Erley, Creative Strategies Group President & CEO, acts as “The Sponsor Doc” in a quarterly column published by the International Festival & Events Association’s (i.e.: the business of international events) magazine. Erley specializes in sponsorship and event marketing and is regarded as a leading expert in the festivals and special events industry.

 Dear Sponsor Doc: My event is only eight weeks out and I still don’t have all the sponsors I need. I’m getting frantic and anyone I talk to at this point tells me those budgets are long gone. I’m losing sleep trying to come up with ideas of where to find the final dollars I need. What should I do at this point?

- M.C. Illinois

 Dear M.C.,

I have been there! I know the sense of frustration, failure and anxiety I feel when I get down to the final weeks and haven’t met my numbers. You may be surprised by my advice…STOP SELLING!

As Kenny Rogers once sang about the art of gambling, “You Gotta Know When To Hold ‘Em and When To Fold ‘Em.” There is, in fact, a point of steep diminishing returns when you get into “combat” sales. Some of the reasons to stop selling for the upcoming event include:

  • As you already noted, you are far too late for most sponsors’ planning and budgeting, decision-making periods. It may a great idea, but that ship has sailed.
  • Additionally, you are right on top of, or past many of your advertising production deadlines so there are a number of benefits you can no longer deliver. This will water down the effectiveness and value of the sponsorship.
  • Often you are frantic enough in the final weeks before events to have a “fire sale” slashing your sponsor fees or heaping on benefits that are typically reserved for higher level sponsors. When you offer these deep discounts, they create inequity issues with your full-paying sponsors plus you create a future incentive for sponsors to hold out until the very end to get the best deal.
  • Your panicked, late efforts will reflect negatively on you and your event making you look ill-prepared, unprofessional and desperate.
  • Finally, desperation-selling until the final hour doesn’t work. Any dollars your do scratch up will be minimal. I believe it is better to compensate the anticipated lower sponsorship revenue by making cuts in expenses during the final weeks before the event takes place.

So, now that I’ve given you the reasons to stop selling the upcoming festival, let me suggest how you as a sponsor sales representative should use your time in the final weeks before the festival.

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