Monday, February 15, 2010

Kevin Smith, Southwest, and Twitter

The first thought I had when I heard that movie director Kevin Smith sent angry Tweets over being kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight this week for being too fat was,

"Did he see our picture in the February edition of Southwest's Spirit Magazine? "

Then I started to think about what great publicity Kevin Smith is getting for his new movie "Cop Out." Sure, bloggers and tweeters and even established news organizations, including NPR, are writing about Smith's tweets and Southwest's response and what it all means.

Many of those articles include a reference to the new movie. You can't buy that kind of publicity. I'd be surprised if Smith accepted an apology from Southwest for at least another week. The movie opens on February 26th. The longer this stays in the news, the better it is for Smith. Smart man.

The Kevin Smith/Southwest incident isn't the only big Twitter incident this week. Musician John Mayer tweeted his apologies for some inappropriate comments in a recent Playboy interview. It seems that controversy and Twitter equal massive publicity.

It's just another example of how social media tools fragment along the same lines at radio, print, and television. The tool will be altered to match the existing uses of media -- good and bad -- no matter how idealistic the new technology seems when it first arrives. Remember when the Internet wasn't going to be commercialized?

This, of course, is good news for our industry. Public radio thrives because of how it contrasts with commercial radio. The more commercial values seep into social media, the more opportunity public media has to stand out and provide value.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

New PPM and Fund Drive Study in the Works

DEI, NPR, and John Sutton & Associates (JSA) are conducting a study in PPM markets of audience response to fund drives.

This is the first comprehensive study on listening patterns before, during, and after fund drives. JSA conducted the first PPM and Fund Drive analysis along with Paragon Media Strategies in December 1997. That study was limited to just a few stations and analyzed top-line audience response only.

The new study also aims to establish on-air fundraising benchmarks for PPM stations. These benchmarks will help stations you evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of their fund drives.

Stations subscribing to PPM data in Fall 2009 are being asked to participate. We plan to release our reports in two parts later this Spring.

Part One will study listening patterns and overall fund drive results. The objective is to quantify audience loss (if any) around fund drives, determine how quickly listening levels recover, find out if certain demographics or dayparts are affected more than others, and if there is a relationship between overall fund drive results and audience gain or loss during fund drives.

Part Two analyzes contributions and dollars received by dayparts and hours during the fund drive. The results are analyzed against the actual listening in those dayparts and hours. This information will be used to calculate each station's efficiency at turning listening into contributions. National benchmarks will be established and stations will be able to analyze their results against the national benchmarks. This is very practical research that will help stations develop better strategies and tactics for getting more listeners to give more quickly.

DEI is contacting potential participants about the study. Please forward any questions to John Sutton, or Jay Clayton,

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Friday, February 05, 2010

JSA Featured in Southwest Airline's Spirit Magazine

We travel a lot. And when we travel we almost always fly Southwest Airlines.

Southwest took notice and wrote a feature on us for the February 2010 issue of their in-flight magazine, Spirit. You can see it here (pdf).

Working with Southwest got us to thinking about what we like about the travel we do beyond working with our clients. We've listed a few of our favorite things here in case you're ever visiting one of our many client cities.

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Grow the Audience: Accountability Begins at CPB

Accountability is perhaps this biggest challenge for the Grow the Audience project. We wrote about this last year. The project will not meet its goals without strong, mutual accountability among stations, the networks, program providers, and CPB, which will provide significant funding for Grow the Audience initiatives.

The nature of the industry requires that much of that accountability will be voluntary. CPB can, and does, require some accountability from grantees, but those requirements – such as the Audience Service Criteria – are minimal.

It is extremely important that CPB takes a leadership role in accountability. That not only means supporting mechanisms of accountability, it also means that CPB should lead by example. How? By publishing its own goals, regularly reporting on its results, and when necessary, outlining steps it might take to improve its results.

This isn’t as simple as it sounds. CPB is not held accountable by its board or Congress for the audience performance of its programming investments. It never has been and it probably never will be.

Read the annual reports from CPB from the past several years and you will note that CPB reports on how it spent tax payer dollars on radio, but not on the results of that spending. For several years, CPB listed absolutely no audience numbers for radio in its annual reports. That improved a bit in the 2008, but not enough.

For example, there is no report on CPB’s site or in its annual reports showing the number of minority listeners to public radio over the years even though that has been a CPB funding priority. It’s no wonder the minority audience hasn’t grown. No one is actually held responsible for it.

There is one ironic twist to CPB's reporting of audience numbers. The 2008 annual report does tout audience growth for one CPB-funded program -- Weekend America. That program was cancelled by its producer, APM, at the end of 2008 due to budget cuts and "weak prospects for carriage... foundation... and corporate support."

CPB is evaluated based on whether it spends its funding the way it says it will. It is highly unlikely that its board will adopt new evaluation criteria unless dictated by Congress. To create the type of mutual accountability necessary to make Grow the Audience a success, CPB must embrace results-based evaluation criteria and it must make those criteria public. Here’s one possibility.

CPB could help establish an industry website that aggregates information on system-wide diversification efforts. One section could be on audience and another section could house information on diversification of staff.

On the audience side, CPB would publish the goals of its diversity initiatives, the programs or stations it is funding to reach those goals, and regular reports on the audience performance of those programs. All stations and programs receiving CPB funding would be required to participate. Producers and stations not receiving CPB funding could post their activities and results as well.

The key here is CPB’s full participation. Without it, it’s simply business as usual in public radio. This is CPB’s Grow the Audience project. CPB is championing these goals. If CPB doesn’t take the lead on full, mutual accountability, who will?

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