Building relationships takes time – and public media has a number of important constituencies. While staff can handle the bulk of relationship building with major donors, members, and underwriters, your role is important. Ask your senior staff how you can help with those constituents. 

Relationships with your staff are extremely important, but the topic for a different article.

The GM is the point person when it comes to relationship building with

  • University administrators
  • Local, State and National legislators

And, the best time to build those relationships is BEFORE you need them.

Unfortunately, with the multiple demands on any GMs time, building relationships often comes far down on the to-do list.

Make relationship building a priority. It doesn’t have to be done all at once, but keep it top-of-mind by contacting at least one university administrator, or one legislator each week. Put it on your schedule so that a specific time slot is reserved.

For administrative calls/visits, create a list of message points you want to get across. Cover one message per contact. Among topics on the list could be:

  • Information regarding an important upcoming local interview, concert, or news feature that you want to make sure the administration is aware of and invite them to listen, attend, or participate in.
  • An event you want to invite the administrator to attend…and if they attend, acknowledge their presence if possible. 
  • Information about a recent award recognizing the stations programming, production, fundraising, or outreach excellence, or recent grants for programming/production or outreach services. 
  • Share an article from the U:SA website regarding how a University and the public media station are alike, or how universities and public media vulnerable to attack, or the results of your most recent Quantitative Worth Analysis Report.
  • Share letters or emails from listeners/viewers that relay how important your service is to the community, or how much they appreciate the services you provide – and let them know how many such letters/emails you get from donors and listeners every month. 
  • Ask for support for a specific project or initiative, or thank them for their support on a recent issue.
  • If you’re visiting in person, always leave something in writing behind – a newspaper clipping, fact sheet, or invitation.

Be sure key administrators and legislators are on your marketing mailing lists for invitations to events, concerts, premieres, tours and other activities at the station.

Phone calls may be best, especially when a bill is up for a vote, or when you need to express appreciation immediately following a favorable vote.

If you’ve spoken to or seen the administrator/legislator recently, remind him/her of the contact. Administrators and legislators meet with many constituents and may not remember precisely when they saw or heard from you last. Reminding them can help break the ice and lead to your reason for calling.

Doing all these things means that when you need administrative or legislative support on an issue or a piece of legislation they will know who you are, they will be familiar with what you do, and understand the impact you have on the community.  

Make the time. Make the efforts. See the results.