leveraging on sponsorship opportunities
While we always struggle to push our press releases to the many newsrooms so as to get editorial coverage, in public relations (PR) we never fall short of sponsorship proposals from various organisations. Every day I receive sponsorship proposals and calls from people with different ideas on sponsorship opportunities that they think we can engage in.
Despite the fact that sponsorship is a multimillion-dollar business in the corporate world, it has remained a gray area within the public relations discipline, fraught with curious and standardized measurement techniques, and the need for significant return on investment that advances a given objective.
Big or small, opportunities for sponsorship abound and tactically superior public relations professionals are able to take advantage of these opportunities and properly recommend them as part of their arsenal.
While sieving through many proposals and listening to different ideas one should look carefully at the objectives and mission statement of the organisation, understand the target audience implicitly and go in with a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish. And then seek those opportunities that fit and see how a properly aligned sponsorship can assist to achieve your goals. For instance if you are telco it may be in line with your objectives to support digital villages as a sponsorship because in the near future those digital villages will be your key customers in terms of bandwidth.
Many of us do the same sponsorship over and over again because that’s how it has always been done, as opposed to seeking fresh and exciting opportunities that may be a better fit and provide a more powerful return on investment.
Just because you are known for sports doesn’t mean that you cannot try arts? For ongoing sponsorships that are up for renewal, understand how this sponsorship can be leveraged. Let me draw on some personal experience. While for a long time my client had sponsored a continental soccer tourney, I discovered that it was more powerful to sponsor the television stations airing the live matches than the actual tournament because unlike in the west where people flock to stadiums for the matches, Kenyans prefer to follow the action on television. We were able to leverage on the sponsorship than what we had done the previous year by inserting our advertisements during the matches.
The sponsorship matrix
Many people tend to be quick to ask for sponsorship funds and offer promises, but rarely do they take time to understand how your cause may be a solid ‘marketing partner’ with their cause—but that is the key. We should not be ‘corporate hypocrites’, but rather being straight forward… What is in it for my organisation or client? If you clearly state your objectives to the sponsorship solicitors, they will easily work with you to tailor some ideas to your objectives, as well as presenting a variety of options.
Lastly, when you have made your decision(s) on what program(s) to become involved in, iron out everything in advance. Agree on a reporting method and whose responsibility it is to provide it, ask who prints and positions logos and signage and what leveraging and merchandising opportunities you have, there is a host of clout, so ask for everything.
Young PR Speak: Building a brand through sponsorship alone and expecting quick results is flawed thinking. But with time and the right merchandising, sponsorships can be a powerful tool.