Not Business as Usual, and We Are Not Alone
May 12, 2023 by Joyce MacDonald
After a recent lively one-on-one conversation with Greater Public CEO Joyce MacDonald, Vice President and General Manager of Jacobs Media, Paul Jacobs, answered some additional questions from station colleagues across the system about corporate support efforts in the wake of challenges from the past year.
Jacobs: While I don’t have best practices to offer specifically, I can tell you that what used to be a much simpler task has grown significantly more complex in the past decade. The onset of digital, the aging of the core audience, the diversity of America, and new competitors all make operating a public radio significantly more challenging. Given this, I offer these suggestions:
Jacobs: This is such a hard question to answer. There are so many real and perceived barriers to appealing to younger-targeted businesses. And, let’s face it, the audience isn’t that young, so coming up with the right combination of sponsors plus the audience is a bit challenging.
You are probably not aware of this, but a portion of our business [at Jacobs Media] consults commercial alternative rock radio stations. Part of my role is helping their sales teams generate revenue. Each week I send out information about how traditionally older-targeted businesses like the ones I mentioned on the webinar recognize the importance of reaching Millennials, and they are allocating dollars in that effort. They tend to be real estate, banks, home improvement, businesses like that.
But the question is: Should a business targeting a younger demographic support a public radio station with a median-aged listener of around 57 years old? I think that’s a big ask and in general, I would advise that sponsor against it. But, if you’ve got a decent percentage of your audience below 45 or 50, you can make the case to a younger-targeted sponsor that they really can’t be reached elsewhere. So there’s that.
The other approach is to create younger-targeted content that doesn’t air on the radio, but lives on your website, mobile app, Alexa skill, etc. Then you can market that specifically to these types of sponsors. That actually might be the best approach, even though it’s a lot of work.
Watch this space as we share a series of these questions and answers over the next few weeks as part of efforts to continue dialog across the system about public media’s place within the changing media and sales landscape.
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