There are a number of community resources available for small, local businesses- the Rotary club, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, for example. While some communities are better set up than others, there are generally one or two of these organizations just waiting to help their local community thrive.
Once such place I had never explored is our local Media Center. Many communities have them, but I must admit, when I wandered into the Sun Prairie Media Center to get a closer look, I was blown away by the options.
When Executive Director, Jeff Robbins, and program coordinator, Rachel Packard agreed to give me a tour, I was in for an unexpected treat. If you’ve ever wanted to film and edit your own commercial, go live on the radio, or send your kids to an after-school program at a TV studio, this is a place you must check out.
Our local Media Center offers quality video and audio equipment to city residents, free to check out for 24 hours. Not to mention the row of computers pre-loaded with editing software – free to use during normal business hours. All that is required to check out and use equipment is a brief and easy workshop, available for a small fee.
A break room was converted into a complete radio studio which opened summer of 2015. With a full soundboard, mixing gear, CD players, turntable, and direct access to produce live local radio programming, anyone who dreams of producing their own radio show can instantly be a local celebrity, again, free of charge. All that is required is a simple training workshop.
But my favorite part of the entire space is the studio. The local chamber of commerce members, the police chief, the school superintendent, and other community members borrow the studio for a few hours. They may conduct an interview, talk about changes to the ever-growing school district, or promote free community events.
It’s an impressive studio complete with custom lighting, soundboards, and a green screen used for custom computer-generated backgrounds. Their prop and costume room is most often used by elementary and middle school students who come in for the KIDS-4 after school program.
What’s the catch?
This all seems like an amazing deal, right? So, what’s the catch? All programming must be created for the public access TV and radio stations which, by the way, has an impressively far reach. And they require that you not directly sell anything during your video, radio, or TV spot if it is to air on the public access channels. And – no surprise – no obscenities.
If you want to sell products, they ask that you rent the video equipment for a surprisingly low per day fee, or consider a sponsored public service announcement instead of a full radio show. Businesses can also sponsor programs or high-profile events like high school sports coverage.
Does the thought of not being able to sell anything scare you off a bit? Don’t let it. This is an amazing deal. After all, content marketing (becoming a resource for your prospective clients without making a direct sale) is one of the most effective sales tools for any business today.
Not a Sun Prairie, Wisconsin resident? Call your local Chamber of Commerce. There’s a good chance a similar organization exists in your town.
Looking to create your own personalized media but don’t know where to begin?
Here are a few quick tips:
- Focus your message. Whether you’re looking to write a script for a commercial, or outline an interview, focus your message on one single idea. Once you start to introduce additional concepts, your single message becomes muddied or lost altogether.
- Re-write. Once you write your script, go back and cut out anything that might be considered extraneous. Don’t use three sentences if you only need one.
- If you’re filming for video or TV, think “show” not “tell.” Whenever possible, engage the visual content available to you. Don’t talk about how clean your pizza kitchen is. Film in your pizza kitchen so people can see it for themselves. Don’t talk about how many people show up to your exercise classes. Film one of your classes so people can see for themselves how popular your studio is.
- Practice! Most people are not born with the ability to be cool as a cucumber on the air (TV or radio.) Practice as much as you can in front of friends, family, or, if real people aren’t available, use your mirror. Say each word out loud, record yourself on your phone first and watch it back… you cannot prepare too much for your media debut.
Looking for more resources on copywriting, or creating content that doesn’t sell directly? Check out my library of marketing resources for small businesses.