Wednesday, August 31, 2011

RadioSutton Goes Tweet

We've added Twitter to RadioSutton offerings.

@RadioSutton is where you will find fundraising tips and other thoughts for people in public radio.

The first tweet goes out on Thursday 9/1. We intend to post at least one fundraising tip per week, sometimes more. The tips will usually be specific to the fundraising season, offering reminders and specific ideas to help public radio stations get more givers in the next few days, weeks or months.

We're also updating our website over the next few months. Look for announcements about new features and free stuff to help with pledge drives and more.

John Sutton and Sonja Lee

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Digital Revenues and Localism

Years ago, public radio researcher, innovator, and winner of the industry’s Edward R. Murrow award David Giovannoni made the point that “programming causes audience.” To those new to public radio, particularly in those working in digital services, this point might seem so obvious that it isn’t worthy of the industry highest award, but it is.

The entire body of knowledge behind “programming causes audience” helps us understand the relationships among listeners, their listening, and the revenues listeners create for public radio. That knowledge and understanding still applies today, even in the digital space. It is summed up in the Top 10 Truths About Public Radio from Audience Research Analysis (ARA).

ARA’s Top 10 Truths About Public Radio

1. Programming causes audience.
2. Listeners choose programming that resonates with their values, interests, and beliefs.
3. Listeners develop loyalty to a station with consistent appeal.
4. Appeal can transcend program genres and format types.
5. The programming most often chosen by public broadcasters appeals most strongly to well-educated Americans.
6. Public radio listeners generally perceive themselves to be citizens of the world.
7. Public service begets public support.
8. Fundraising is the catalyst that triggers giving, but personal importance and reliance are their primary causes.
9. Listeners trust public radio to be their sanctuary from commercialism.
10. Public support begets public service.

Truths 2, 6 and 7 are particularly important as public radio pursues a digital strategy. The current audience base comes to local public radio stations for their global perspective and their breadth of programming. This is the foundation of stations’ public service and the listener support stations receive.

Local programming, on the other hand, does not generate as much audience loyalty or listening as the top network news and entertainment programs. Listeners place a lower financial value on local programming than the top network news and entertainment programs. This has been researched and verified in multiple studies including Audience 98.

Local programming might make a respectable enhancement to a station’s public service and revenue portfolios. It will never be a substitute or replacement for lost listening to national programming.

That’s why it is vital for stations to offer all of their current content across all media platforms - over air, on-line, mobile, streaming, on-demand - under the same branding model that exists today.

Stations need to be just as important to listeners on the web as they are over the air. That only happens through the programming stations offer today.

- Programming causes audience.
- Listeners choose programming that resonates with their values, interests, and
- Public radio listeners generally perceive themselves to be citizens of the world.
- Public service begets public support.

Any strategy that moves listening to network programming away from stations will harm stations, and ultimately, the networks. Any strategy that assumes local content is the future for public radio stations is a strategy that assumes stations will raise less money in the future. Not only does that mean less money for stations, it ultimately means less money for the networks.

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