How to Use Air Checks to Make Each Drive Better Than the Last

PMDMC, Membership, pledge drive, aircheck, pitching

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When we surveyed stations last year about their on-air fundraising practices only 30% said they used air checks from on-air drives. Programmers use air checks to review and improve everything else on your station. Since fundraising is programming, we should use air checks to make drives better too. 

Air checks are the best way to experience your membership drive the way a listener does, which is exactly what you need to do to create a listener-focused pledge drive. Air checks are the best tool we have to make our drives sound better (keeping listeners with us) and perform better (turning listening into more givers and revenue).

When you do listen to air checks, here are some good ideas about when and how to listen, and how to use what you hear to improve the sound - and fundraising effectiveness - of your drive.

1. Listen to air checks after every drive.

And don't wait too long to do it! It's best to listen soon after the drive so the experience is still fresh in everyone's minds.

Don't look for your best or the worst pitch-breaks. Instead, find a handful of typical examples of how your drive sounded. This is what your typical listener heard.

And, of course, listen to the same air checks again right before your next drive to reinforce what you're aiming to improve.

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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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How Rewriting Your Thank-You Letter Could Lead to Your Next Major Gift

PMDMC, Membership, donor cultivation and stewardship, Major Giving

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Penelope Burk tells a story of one donor who, after making a $100 first-time donation, receives a thank-you letter, picks up the phone to call the organization that sent it, and announces intent to make a five-figure gift.

Seem unlikely? Perhaps. But you haven't read this kind of letter. 

Burk, the renowned author, researcher, presenter, and fundraising futurist, described such a letter at the 2019 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) as an example of donor-centered fundraisingThis is relationship-focused fundraising that sustains donor loyalty and inspires more generous gifts by granting donors the three things they say they need every time they give. One of things donors want is to be acknowledged in a meaningful way; not as one of many donors, but as a single donor.

Here's the type of thank-you letter many of us are sending today:

Dear Bruce:

Through your sponsorship, you are partnering with us to improve ABC Hospital and the care received here. On behalf of the hospital, and the patients who benefit from your generosity, I would like to thank you for your contribution of $5,000 on May 20th in support of the Foundation's 19th Annual Golf Benefit. 

As a sponsor of this great event, you are making a difference!

We are honored and grateful to have your support as a sponsor of our biggest fundraising event of the year. The quality of healthcare delivered at ABC Hospital would not be as great if it were not for caring  and loyal supporters like you!

Gratefully,

(signed by the hospital foundation development director)

It's fine. But now read this one:

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How Two Phone Calls a Day Could Make You Happier (and Raise More Money)

PMDMC, Membership, donor cultivation and stewardship, Major Giving

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Imagine if the first thing you did each day when you got to work was to make a genuine connection with your organization's mission -- with why your work matters

You wouldn't check email. You wouldn't look at your to-do list or even stop and chat with colleagues. Instead, you might pick up the phone and call just one donor. You would tell that donor how much his or her gift matters to your organization and its mission.

What if you made that same phone call to one more donor before you went home?

This is what renowned author, presenter, and fundraising futurist Penelope Burk suggested at the 2019 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) during a session focused on donor-centered fundraising (her grand-finale PMDMC presentation before retirement!)

"Give yourself ten minutes to do it," suggests Burk, "Nine minutes to angst about it and one to actually do it. It will set up your day. It will change how you feel." 

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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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Bust Your Organization's Internal Silos With an Audience-Centric Approach

PMDMC, Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, marketing, leadership, strategy

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This interactive session  was first presented by Atlantic 57 at PMDMC 2018. You can try three session exercises with your own team to explore how to put these principles into practice.

There's a division in many newsrooms today that has an impact on how well we serve our audiences. 

Most newsroom reporters and editors focus on creating content, while those in digital roles focus on distributing that content or analyzing audience analytics.

The challenge: Newsrooms are struggling to bridge the divide between old and new.

When these groups work as two teams instead of one, newsrooms struggle to bridge the divide between old ways of presenting content and the new ways in which audiences consume content. It's a gap that has a significant impact on the audience experience:

The solution: Unite your teams to serve your audiences.

Put the needs of your audiences at the center of your work. This seems like a no-brainer. And yet, many organizations are falling short of this goal. There are three key barriers that stand in the way. We'll outline what those barriers are, and how to bridge them. 

BARRIER 1: Media organizations try to be everything to everyone, everywhere.

Sound familiar? Audiences are moving across platforms at a rapid pace (think podcasting, social media, smart speakers...) Many organizations are scrambling to keep up with these platform shifts and can lose sight of the larger mission. 

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Use Data to Skillfully Manage Down... and Up

PMDMC, managers, Corporate Support

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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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How National Geographic Builds Social Media Trust During the Facebook Apocalypse

facebook, PMDMC, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, General Management

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Thanks to “fake news,” bots, and political polarization online, trust in social media is at an all-time low. But social platforms still offer a powerful way to connect with audiences and donors.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans regularly use social media (Pew Research Center, 2018) and 31% of online donors now say that social media is the communication tool that most often inspires them to give, surpassing email for the first time (Global Trends in Giving Report, 2018).

A PMDMC 2018 session entitled “Building Brand Trust and Engagement in the Facebook Apocalypse” explored how one superstar brand, National Geographic, has built and maintained its social media effectiveness in an era of social media mistrust.

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The Best (and Hardest) Realities of Public Radio Sales Right Now

PMDMC, sales strategy, Corporate Support

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Life moves pretty fast in the world of public radio sales. But one thing remains constant: public radio still has a strong value proposition! This was the spirit of a discussion at the 2018 PMDMC, titled "The New Realities of Public Radio Sales." Marlene Schneider of Enginuity Workshop facilitated a conversation with Bryan Moffett of National Public Media and Millie Adan-Garza from Houston Public Media (HPM), as well as an audience workshop, to explore what we're facing nationally and locally in public radio sales.

What are marketers' challenges these days? (Hint: many of the same things that challenge us!)

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Marketing Tactics Used by Top Podcasts

PMDMC, marketing, podcast

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In our industry, it’s often said that anyone can make a podcast… but not everyone should.

So when your organization has invested time and resources into a really good podcast, you want to give it every advantage to succeed from the start.

These tips came from Joni Deutsch, on-demand content and audience engagement producer at WFAE, and Maggie Taylor, director of marketing at PRX and Radiotopia as part of the PMDMC 2018 session “From Launch to Orbit, Working Across Departments to Get Ears on Your Podcast.”

Identify your audience. 

Knowing whom you're talking to is the first, most essential step toward being able to  connect with those people. NPR offers storytelling training tools to help you identify whom you're trying to reach. Knowing your audience will affect which marketing tactics you choose to use. 

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