Outreach Tips: NPR Underwriting

(from UP Week 2014)

UP Week might be the perfect time for member presses to send their own message via a local NPR underwriting campaign. Depending on market and schedule, this can be a low cost way to reach the readers, stakeholders, and policymakers that you most want to know about your press and its place in the community.

Getting Started

Your local station, especially those affiliated with a college or university, may have a corporate underwriting contact right there at the station. You can find their contact info on the station web site. Many NPR stations also work with National Public Media (NPM). Individual stations may offer nonprofit discounts and an aggregator may make an agency discount available.

General Strategy

We consulted with smart and experienced colleagues in developing our campaign, but keep in mind that there may be more targeted strategies that will work better in a given region, or with a specific press, book, or event to promote.

  • The impact of repetition is valuable! The first time a listener hears a new message, it may not register, but the second or third time may be the one that penetrates. If you can afford to repeat your message, do it.
  • Measuring sales impacts from such campaigns for book titles is elusive enough—how do you judge the effect of what is essentially a reputational campaign? If you point listeners to a web site, one way is to make sure there is a way for people who do visit the site to interact or register interest.

Message Copy

Each station has their own requirements and may make numerous changes to your copy. For instance, WBEZ does not allow the use of pronouns in sponsorship spots. NPM provides a few guidelines that are almost universal, however:

  • Spots are generally 10 or 15 seconds long and include the general prologue [“Support for the station comes from…”] followed by the full official name of the sponsor.
  • The message cannot generally include qualitative or comparative language.
  • Nor can your language include inducements or calls to action.

Here is possible language you might adapt for a local NPR spot:

Support for [STATION] is provided by [PRESS NAME] celebrating University Press Week and the work of [our] authors and editors. [PRESS WEB SITE or universitypressweek.org] [UP WEEK THEME STATEMENT] Hashtag Read Up.


Support for [STATION] is provided by [PRESS NAME] celebrating University Press Week and the new book [TITLE OF LOCAL OR CURRENT INTEREST] [PRESS WEBSITE] Hashtag Read Up.

If you conduct a University Press Week underwriting campaign—or have other tips and experience to share—please let us know!