Those Commercials on the Non-Commercial Station
By Frank Pfau, Corporate Accounts Manager
When people ask what I do, simply saying that “I’m the Corporate Accounts Manager” doesn’t mean a whole lot to most people. So, I’ve developed a short description that goes something like this:
Myself: “Are you a listener of St. Louis Public Radio?” (Assuming they are): “So, when you hear ‘support from St. Louis Public Radio comes from XYZ Company…’ well, that’s what my department does. We obtain corporate dollars for the station.”
Them: “Ohh … you mean the advertising.”
Well, sort of.
“Underwriting announcements” “advertising” “corporate support announcements” are all terms used to describe the same thing: the announcements of acknowledgement of financial support from local, regional, and national organizations.
St. Louis Public Radio corporate support dollars account for about 20 percent of our entire operating budget, which is about 1.6 million last fiscal year.
Why would an organization want to have their name mentioned on our station? After all, they are just fifteen-second scripted announcements read in a calm, conversational tone. No jingles. No dialog. No calls to action. No mentions of price and/or discounts. No rhetorical questions. No fast-whispering disclaimers.
Clearly, these aren’t commercials.
Let’s face it: “announcements of acknowledgement of financial support” doesn’t exactly scream BIG BLOWOUT BONANZA!
So, why would an organization even put up with all of these “restrictions” (we prefer the term “guidelines”)?
Is it the great programming? Perhaps. Is it because they love the station? Maybe.
The paramount reason is: You, the listener.
While it’s true that just about all of the organizations do love the station, they also understand that St. Louis Public Radio listeners are a very unique and desirable demographic. Without sounding like a promotional sales call, let’s just say that, generally, the STLPR listener is more likely to be educated, employed, and engaged in the community with discretionary income.
So, add that demographic to the fact that:
a) Our listeners don’t turn the station when the corporate support announcements come on so they will actually *hear* the announcement (thank you “restrictions”) and,
b) Our listeners will actually like them more. Well, it’s true. Public Radio listeners view the organizations that support the station they love in a more positive light: as a good corporate citizen with shared interests. Oh, and all things being equal, Public Radio listeners are also more likely to do business with these organizations.
Are the announcements for everyone? Probably not. (If only the folks from Dirt Cheap would call me back!) However, for the majority of businesses, non-profits and institutions in the region there is nothing quite like being acknowledged for supporting a valuable St. Louis institution: St. Louis Public Radio.