Let's get started: 11 Ways to Start PEG Alternative Revenue Tomorrow

Updated: Mar 01, 2023

Illustration with arrows pointing right and text 'Revenue'

By Dana Healy, Executive Director, CTV North Suburbs

Original Post Date October 3, 2019

All photos provided by Dana Healy

The landscape of community media has drastically changed. Cable was in every house, holding the attention of viewers through a limited line up of shows. Now, our funding is drying up. Cord cutting and cord shaving is common, and now easier than ever. A conversation for a different day.

Your board says “We need more income streams!” or “What are you doing about alternative revenue?”. Does this sound familiar? Any Executive Director in the past 5 years has had this conversation. If you haven’t tried something yet, don’t worry. Here are 11 ways to start alternative revenue at your community media center tomorrow.

1.   Up-sells:

Do you have an event you already do that is very popular at your center? For example, inviting politicians or nonprofits in to record a spot about themselves to inform viewers. Design an up-sell that provides them with something valuable and tangible. A slick custom graphics package, paired with a download link of just their isolated recording is very valuable for their own personal branding. Ask for a suggested donation, then deliver the edited piece as a thank you gift. What are you already producing? Figure out how to up-sell that.

2.      Kids Clubs

Kids provide a great revenue source, especially if you have a dynamic staff member that has the energy to work with them. Although Kids Club can use a lot of resources, they are also a great way to funnel people into your organization. Price out your club to be comparable to your local Parks and Recreation group. Use the kid clubs as a funnel for other programs.

3.      Sponsorship

Your time is valuable. What programs are you already producing? Can you recruit a sponsor for those programs? Sponsor pods are a short slate at the beginning and ending of your program typically starting with “This show brought to you in part by…”. This is a great opportunity to connect with the businesses in your community and deliver them valuable exposure, while bringing income into your media center.

4.      Partner Speaker Events

Pull in a popular speaker to speak at your station about a topic that appeals to your business population. Ask the speaker what nonprofit they support in the area, and agree to split the ticket profits with that nonprofit. Here is what is at play: you have your organization, the speaker, as well as the second nonprofit working to get butts in the seats for this event. The tickets practically sell themselves. It exposes the business population to your center, while creating an opportunity for some nice press.

5.      Princess or Superhero Tea Parties

An underserved population in community media centers are the tots, 2 years old to 5 years old. Parents are always looking for something new and engaging to burn off some pre-school energy. Book a professional princess or superhero, possibly trading services to keep the cost down, and advertise your butt off. The first one probably won’t fill up, but word of mouth through the parent groups spread. If you delivered a good product, next time will be standing room only. Consider up-selling picture with the princess packages. What else can you upsell?

6.      Donate Button

Put a good ‘ol fashioned donate button on your website. Make it BIG, make it Bright! Even if you get a couple of donations out of it, it’s worth the binary code its written with.

7.      Kids Birthday Parties

People cringe when I say this. When I had two winter babies, I was severely disappointed there weren’t more winter-time birthday options. Partner up with a pizza sponsor and use that staff member that had that kid-like energy level, caffeinate him/her, and let it rip. Price it right! Calculate your overhead before you pick a number out of the air. Remember these parties usually occur on weekends or nights, when staff isn’t very excited to work. Make sure you net enough profit from the events to make it worth disenchanted staff. Mention tips are accepted for your now late-night working staff.

8.      Sports Highlight Reels

High school students with promising college careers in sports, need a sports highlight reel to pitch to coaches. If you are already recording all the sports games they are participating in, your media center has the rights to use the footage. Give a few of these away for free to some of the star captains, and watch the trickle-down effect if you produce a great product.

9.      Memberships

I believe in keeping community media accessible to the community, so memberships shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for your revenue. However, a membership immediately gets a buy-in from your target audience, because they just gave you some money! Just don’t consider this a giant line item in your budget.

10.  Grant Partnerships

There is a limited market for grants that are dumped into operational budgets. Grant-givers like to see projects with a start and end date that is unique and serves a specific audience. Consider unique partnerships with local nonprofits to create programming. For example: a video about affordable housing can be funded by a nonprofit realtors group.

11.  Production – ugh – Services

Production services seem to be the go-to for media centers to bring in alternative revenue. I get it. We make videos, we’re storytellers, seems like a good fit. I’m apprehensive about pushing this because we need to utilize our time effectively. The market is so flooded with video companies. How are you any different? Hunting down prospects that will utilize your services and then take off, doesn’t feed your mission. Yes, you can make a couple of bucks off a production, but how much did you spend in labor and resources? And how did you impact the community you are serving? Keep that in mind when taking on these projects.

We cannot survive on PEG and Franchise fees alone. Discover what your media center’s niche is and build it up.

View the original post on LinkedIn and comment section here.

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