Nov 17, 2009 at 06:08 PM
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Local Media, Layoffs and Sponsorship

In Albuquerque, Live Nation is shopping the naming rights to the area's largest concert venue after the state's largest newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, decided to cut its 10 year naming rights tie and spend marketing dollars elsewhere.

Earlier this year, the paper like virtually every other media organization, announced layoffs.

While many organizations will cite shifts in marketing strategy, the simple fact is that financial distress is and will continue to cause many media organizations to cutback on sponsorship and other marketing expenditures. This memo from Gannett US Community Publishing president Bob Dickey pretty much sums up the situation.

While attention has been focused on how cutbacks in other sectors like financials and autos will effect national and global sponsorship properties, for smaller scale local events, hometown media organizations are a key source of sponsorship revenue and promotional value. The bright side is that many media sponsorships are built on in-kind value, rather than hard cash, which could soften the blow and make renewal more likely, but at the end of the day most sponsorships require some cash component. While local media reorganizes, innovates and transitions to new revenue streams, will properties be able to weather the tight times with their marketing partners?

Here's a few quick tips that may help you retain your media partners during tough times.

  • Before proposing, ask yourself whether the assets offered can better accommodate your prospect's new business models. Are subscriber sign-ups, content, sampling, etc. still the key objective?

  • Look to flexibly structure payment schedule and be sensitive to restructuring announcements.

  • Ask for more media value/wider content distribution in lieu of cash, and then use these promotional assets to upsell other sponsors.

  • Put the paper to work. Use media partners as your new sales arm. A media sponsorship itself may not be cash rich, but are there ways to co-package content/sponsorship opportunities to their existing advertisers under a shared revenue model?

  • Think outside of sponsorship revenue alone. Presumably you have other revenue streams like tickets, merchandise and concessions. Let your media partner help grow your other revenue streams, and in exchange discount the cash value of your sponsorship for the extra revenue they help bring in.

    Photo credit via Wikimedia: