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E178: Marketing Magic: Navigating NPR’s Sponsorship Maze

Dive into the intricate world of NPR’s sponsorship marketing with industry vet Lamar Johnson. Discover the balancing act between maintaining editorial integrity and embracing innovations like influencers. From viral memes to niche podcasts, uncover how NPR cultivates cultural participation and attracts a dream demographic for marketers. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Hard to Market Podcast.
  • Balancing sponsorship & NPR values
  • The power of cultural participation
  • Quality trumps size in media reach
  • Impact of influencer collaborations
  • Agile marketing in a dynamic news cycle
Resources: Connect with Lamar Johnson: Connect with our host, Brian Mattocks: Quotables:
  • 18:33 – And that’s one of the things that I’m so proud of in terms of working at NPM on behalf of NPR is that our work both on both sides helps brands participate in culture work, a marketer’s dream. Absolutely! That’s a fully engaged content. We had somebody on the show not long ago that spoke to experiential marketing and creating these experiences. And I think you’re starting to see that creep more and more into the dynamic for marketers. And I think what you’re talking about is right there with it. So Lamar as we start to wrap here I want to ask a couple of key questions One I mean obviously the brand speaks for itself. It’s you’ve done a ton of legwork but you’ve also got this really really powerful history.
  • 11:47 – Lamar: And so we have found some success in utilizing these sort of newer approaches to getting the marketing message out. Brian: Everybody throws shade at influencers but nobody was throwing shade at movie stars back in the 80s right? Lamar: Exactly! And I think the word influencers is loaded in a lot of people’s minds. You know maybe they feel like there’s some nefarious intent there but influencing has been going on for a long time as you said. But anyway I use broadcast towers but the point still carries in terms of these people have audiences. They’re able to influence And so you know we have done again some work with them and really found success in terms of influencers being able to amplify a message get a message to a new audience.
  • 17:10 – Less focused on the advertising aspect of it and more on the culture and conversation. You know we’ve had I’ll just use the Usher  meme last summer. You know Usher did a Tiny Desk concert for us in the summer of 2022 and did a little funny move when he was performing that then went on to become a meme that went all over the world. We kind of have a similar situation right now with another clip from a Tiny Desk concert that appears to be going viral on social media. And so there’s a certain amount of you have to let the reins of the community you know sort of do their thing in terms of sharing elements of our content.
  • 16:04 – Brian: Are you using the DMCA to pull back so you can make sure that you can retain control. What does that look like I mean without causing like Streisand effect stuff. Lamar: Well you know a lot of that is really dictated and managed on the NPR side from an editorial and content perspective and so I would defer to them in terms of what those processes are to be honest with you. I’m not that close to it from a technical perspective. But it’s something that we’re mindful of and it’s something obviously to be considered. But you know we are we do recognize the fact that NPR content is very relevant and people have that aspiration of sharing our stuff. There’s you know again I hate to keep using this this notion of a balancing act but there is an aspect of virality or the viral nature of things where exactly something and just post it and run with it.

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