How to Secure a Media Sponsor
Without the right promotional star power, even if your event is on the cusp of excellence, the turnout will be low. That’s why many of my clients seek media sponsors who can secure enough media coverage for your event that it shines.
If you’re pursuing your first media sponsor, you might wonder what the process looks like. Is it the same as standard sponsorship or is there more you have to do?
In today’s post, I want to share with you my favorite tidbits from a free training session I did in the exclusive Sponsorship Collective Facebook group. Like always, I’ll implore you to join if you want to get in on training like this as well as plenty more great information.
Let’s get started.
What Is a Media Partner or a Media Sponsor?
Before I get too far into how to obtain a media sponsor, I want you to be clear on what I’m talking about when I refer to a media sponsor or media partner.
That’s why I feel like a definition is in order.
A media partner or sponsor is a media company that engages with you to help your company or organization promote your message.
Of course, since sponsorship is not a one-way street, in the interim, you’re assisting the media partner with growing their reader base, listenership, viewers, etc.
In other words, you’re growing the media company’s audience. You’d do that with assets and activations.
There’s no need to think of a media sponsor outside of the realm of traditional sponsorship.
That means you still want to start with your audience research to get a gauge of your audience. You want data segments that are as niched down as humanly possible.
Media companies live for highly specific data like this because their own target audience is segmented the same way.
You still must prospect for the right media partners based on the brands your audience likes to watch, listen to, and otherwise consume. You don’t want to choose a partner just because they’re popular.
You’d still have a discovery session where you chat with your potential media sponsor about their needs, challenges, and shortcomings.
Based on the information in that meeting, you’d put together a sponsorship package with tailored, even custom solutions.
You and the media sponsor would then enter negotiations and draw up a contract.
After the arrangement ended, you’d produce a fulfillment report stating where you outperformed, performed well, and underperformed.
What Are the Benefits of Media Sponsorship?
Securing media sponsorship is likely something you will do in addition to pursuing standard sponsors to fund your event. It’s usually not one or the other.
Is it really worth stacking all this extra work on your plate? Most definitely, it is! Here are some advantages of working with a media partner for your next event, program, or opportunity.
Significantly Increases Your Impressions and Reach
Media impressions matter more to some companies than others.
If you’re a small business or a nonprofit that’s just starting out, media impressions can be the difference between the life and death of your company or organization.
For larger businesses, media impressions aren’t as important, but that’s okay.
When you secure a media sponsor, doing so comes with the added benefit of increasing your media impressions.
Further, you can ensure that the partnership will extend your reach far beyond where you could have taken it yourself.
You’ll find your event or opportunity featured in major publications and popular websites that wouldn’t have given you the time of day before.
This will translate into other perks that I will cover throughout the rest of this section.
Boosts Your Brand Value
Even if you are a young nonprofit or a startup, you still need a brand.
Establishing your brand and getting people to care about your brand are two major challenges when you’re small and have limited funds.
Not only does working with a media sponsor significantly raise your brand awareness but your brand value as well.
After all, if a major media company is willing to work with you, then your brand must be worth something.
If you can snag a repeat deal with the same sponsor or work with similar sponsors of the same caliber, that will only continue to build your brand value even further.
Grows Your Audience and Customer Base
All this talk about your company or organization is naturally going to rouse the curiosity of the general public.
Not only are people hearing about you, but they’re hearing about you a lot. This inspires them to seek you out, visit your website, comb through your socials, and learn more about you.
If your website is a conversions machine, then you can capture the contact information of these leads and begin converting them to customers.
Attracts New Sponsors
It’s not only new customers or audience members who you’ll naturally attract through your professional relationship with a media sponsor. It’s other sponsors too.
That’s right, you might not have to do quite as much of the work to secure future sponsorship deals.
Once sponsor companies hear of your successful partnership with a media company, they themselves might want a piece of the pie, so to speak. They seek you out rather than the other way around.
Increases Ticket Sales
Was last year’s event or program a big dud? Are you trying to double or even triple last year’s ticket sales so your company or organization ends up in the green this year?
If so, then pairing with a media partner is a great way to achieve this objective. All the positive press you receive will naturally drum up business. You’ll have new subsets of customers buying tickets.
Beefs Up Your Fulfillment Report
Lastly, working with a media sponsor in addition to your traditional sponsors is a great way to make a beefier and fuller-looking fulfillment report!
Two Tactics for Securing a Media Sponsor
Now that you realize how valuable media sponsors can be, you’re probably more eager to obtain one than ever.
In this section, I want to present two tactics you can utilize to achieve your goals. One is more surefire than the other but does involve you shelling out cash, so keep that in mind.
The first method for securing a media sponsor is going the organic route.
I’d recommend this option if your company or organization is low on funds (or has no funds), but you still want a media partner.
Obviously, a method like this isn’t guaranteed, and I want to make that crystal clear before I proceed with the rest of this section.
So how would this method even work? You’d cold-call or cold-email a media company and ask them to give you some exposure.
A lot will say no (or say nothing, which is its own way of saying no). Some will agree.
While this may sound ultra-promising for you because you don’t have to spend a cent on obtaining a media sponsor, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
For one, you don’t know where you’re going to show up in the media company’s programming. Your ability to control the narrative goes out the window as well.
If you were hoping for prime media real estate such as online, on the radio, or on TV, you might not get it. In fact, I’d say you likely will not get it because what incentive does the media company have to give it to you?
They’re doing you a favor, and you don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth by asking for too much.
Since you have no idea what you’re getting, that makes it really hard to value the media exposure as part of a sponsorship package.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this to dissuade you from pursuing organic media sponsors.
If you have the option to work with a media partner without having to spend money that you probably don’t have, then you should take them up on the offer.
You will have to be comfortable with relinquishing control and understand that the portrayal of your company or organization that you were hoping for might not pan out exactly as you had imagined.
The other option is to pay a media partner to promote you.
I know, this doesn’t sound ideal because you’re already stretched thin for funds and that could be the very reason you’re seeking a sponsor in the first place.
Trust me, I get it.
If you want more of the power in your hands when it comes to your media message, then paying is the only way to get there.
You’re the one who dictates what the story will be, what the media messaging timing is, and what the location is.
You can also charge for the media partnership in your sponsorship packages, which you’ll recall is something you cannot do if you go the organic route.
How do I recommend going into a paid deal with a media sponsor? Use your media budget to negotiate leverage.
More Tactics for Securing a Media Sponsorship
Whether you decide that the organic or the paid route is better suited for your goals, you want to follow these tactics to work your way to a media sponsorship.
Obtain Current Audience Data
You must be laser-focused on who your audience is if you’re hoping to secure a media sponsor, which I touched on before.
Remember, media companies know who their respective audiences are inside and out and up, down, and sideways. If you don’t have that same kind of targeted information to present to them, then you could miss out on a very viable opportunity.
If you have yet to determine who your audience is, then it’s time for a survey. If it’s been more than six months since you’ve last evaluated your audience, then it’s also time for a survey.
Think about how life has been for you in the last six months. Have you moved? Switched jobs? Started a new career? Picked up a new hobby or interest?
Then so has your audience, and you need to know that.
Getting back to audience niches, how do you build the kind of highly segmented data that media sponsors want to see?
You take any audience group you have, and you keep dividing it into more specific criteria.
For example, New York has five boroughs. If someone works in finance, they can be a forensic accountant, tax preparer, auditor, controller, or chief financial officer.
You see what I mean? You’re unpeeling layers back like an onion. When you reach the core, you’ll know you have no more layers to peel.
Review Your Organic Media
Who has talked about your company or organization within the last year? Focus more on organic media that popped up naturally versus that which you paid for.
What trends emerge when you review everything? Were you featured in X publication five times? What kind of milestones received the most coverage?
Keep track of this information, as the media companies that cover you the most organically automatically go on your short-list of prospects.
After all, you know these media companies are aware of your company or organization, as they’ve written about you before. The transition into a media partner shouldn’t be a big jump!
Use Your Audience Data to Find More Prospects
If you found that the above method produced a scant list of prospects, worry not. You should also look into the media brands that your audience mentions reading, watching, and enjoying. Add those to your prospecting list as well.
You can also expand that list by finding media companies that target your various audience segments.
Schedule a Discovery Session
You’ll recall from earlier in this article that you pursue media sponsorship the same way you would traditional sponsorship, and that means having a discovery session.
During the discovery session, you ask the media company a number of specific questions to better understand what the company’s pain points and challenges are.
You might ask what their readership or viewership is today versus five years ago to see if readership has fallen.
You could ask about their advertising revenue, audience projections, how leads convert into customers, and what the media company’s goals are at current.
The purpose of a discovery session is to determine where your services (assets and activations) slot in.
The Drawbacks of Media Sponsors
As wonderful as working with media sponsors is, I would be remiss to gloss over the potential downsides that can arise as well. Here is what you need to know.
You Need Media Sponsors First, Then Cash Sponsors
To maximize your value, you can’t obtain a cash sponsor first and then a media sponsor. You need to do it the other way around.
If you didn’t know that until it’s too late, then your sponsorship program can underperform.
They Slow Down the Process
I won’t lie and say that securing a sponsor is a walk in the park. It isn’t.
The only thing more arduous than finding one sponsor to work with is two.
You will find that you’ll have to schedule extra time for securing additional sponsors, which can slow down your process as a whole.
No Guarantees Even If You Spend Money
While it’s hard to predict what your messaging will look like when working with organic sponsors, sometimes even if you pay for a sponsor, the partnership might not be exactly what you envisioned.
The lack of guarantees can make it somewhat financially risky to work with a media sponsor.
Working with a media sponsor can generate positive press ahead of your event, program, or opportunity that increases sales and conversions. You can also establish and strengthen your brand, raising its value.
Be sure to treat your media sponsors as you would cash sponsors, going through the same sponsorship steps to find a suitable sponsor to work with!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.
After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.
Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.