A New Way to Approach Sponsorship Journals, Part 1: Plan & Create

Feb 17, 2016

How do you scare the living daylights out of a development director in two words?
Just say sponsorship journal.

Why do we do it?

Often the most time consuming yet easiest to back-burner, sponsorship journals are a huge part of special events. While they serve to further educate attendees about the benefiting organization and its honorees, journals are first and foremost one of the major ways to generate sponsorship dollars. But getting a complex publication with a shelf life of typically one night off the ground is no easy feat. Between soliciting for ads, collecting content, drafting and reviewing copy, and coordinating with designers and printers, producing one of these babies can be a full time job. Well, at least a full time job that lasts for a few months.

With all the time and effort that goes into completing such an undertaking, organization leaders always seem to be left scratching their heads during gala planning meetings the following year when asked, “So, are we doing the journal?” An outpouring of pros and cons will circle the table as staffers make comments about short shelf life, high costs, break-even revenues, donor recognition, sponsor visibility and on and on.

Over the last few years, digitally published journals have become more go-to than trend when it comes to addressing the aforementioned challenges as they relate to ad journals. Early adopters are on board to test out new technologies, but boards and committees populated by older generations still boast about the tangibility of print. The key is finding a way to use both print and digital media to extend the life of publications so that both organizations and their corporate and private supporters benefit; one that doesn’t involve completely scrapping the idea of a sponsorship journal altogether, since we already know that digital publishing actually adds power to print.

We live in a modern world. It’s only logical to assume there’s a modern approach to tackling this beast of burden. Plus, who doesn’t love a good integrated marketing strategy? Over the next two weeks we’ll be looking at sponsorship journal production and usage from a new perspective that lets a short lived publication go the extra mile for your organization and its supporters.

Find where the value lies

Let’s face it, most organizations use the ad journal as a way to secure larger sponsors. The ads also help to recognize honorees and organizational leaders and accomplishments. It’s a celebration in 40-some pages. So if we use this piece to attract sponsors, we must also recognize the inherent value of such a publication. Let’s start with the sponsors.

Supporting a good cause generates positive recognition for sponsors. Ads are a great way to gain favor with their desired audiences and to increase brand visibility. If you’re a large company, why not go for it? According to Nonprofit Hub, 91% of global consumers are likely to switch to brands associated with a good cause. That’s a statistic that can’t be ignored.

Another thing that can’t be ignored, however, is that any company worth its salt is going to want a return on its investment. That means even event journals need to be worth it for them to put time into and their name on. When you print a journal, the only metrics you can really provide after the fact and on a rate sheet are the estimated number of guests and the quantity and demographic information of those being mailed (that is if you mail any). This is one area where having a digital version really adds value.

Virtual journals often allow links, moving images, video and more. Without the limitations of print, organizations can get creative with how they sell ad space for special events. Built in metrics can also provide deeper insight into readership, click through rates, geographic and device information, time spent on specific pages as well as shares. What advertiser wouldn’t love that information?

The Wrap Up

For organizations, these clues can help optimize future content and printed versions. From a budgetary perspective, utilizing print and digital can help save time and money. Simply put, print enough journals to accommodate your guests and reach wider audiences via the digital version. Trim the fat of your budget by cutting out extraneous print and mail fees. Integrating means you’re reaching your multifaceted audience across multiple channels, thereby increasing their levels of engagement with your organization as a whole. What a difference this makes compared to a static publication.

Other ways digital adds value:

  • Year round presence (can be updated)
  • Reach wider audiences (ease of sharing via web, social, email)
  • Easily translates into a slideshow presentation at event

Check back with us next week as we delve into the practical applications of sponsorship journals after the conclusion of a special event!

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Digital Publishing as a Channel, Not a Commodity

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