Local radio station 107.7 5YYY FM has welcomed a new sponsorship officer, Melanie Westbrook
Melanie originally grew up in Whyalla until leaving to undertake professional writing studies in Adelaide.
She then studied media in Germany and then Melbourne, working in sales whilst completing a media degree at the University of Melbourne.
Melanie moved to Whyalla last year and after hearing a 5YYY advertisement on the radio for helpers, decided to contact the station.
Melanie said station co-ordinator Mary Ann Prince had asked if she was interested in helping her seek sponsorship for the station, as the role had remained vacant for some time.
“After 18 months 5YYY didn’t have any direct contact with businesses, there was no one to do [sponsorship],” she said.
Melanie filled the gap, using her sales skills to call prospective sponsors on the phone and arrange face to face appointments to talk about the benefits of sponsoring 5YYY.
By approaching local Whyalla businesses in this direct way, Melanie has been able to triple the number of 5YYY sponsors.
She also writes the majority of the advertising copy for the local businesses using her knowledge of media and marketing.
“It’s been hugely successful, 5YYY has been in the wilderness for so long and we’re just going really well,” she said.
Melanie said living back home provided a great sea change from the city and she was enjoying every minute of it.
“Whyalla is great, the weather, the people - how good is it that all these sponsors are [sponsoring 5YYY],” she said.
“It just shows what a great town it really is because they really care about the community.”
Melanie said she believed there was a misconception with the station that it just played pop and music for young people, when in fact it plays a variety of genres as diverse as country, jazz, blues and rock.
Melanie said she was enjoying the opportunity to expand on her skills in the sales and broadcast media industry.
“I’ve got the qualifications but I wanted to get a handle on all aspects of everything,” she said.
Melanie said anyone could do anything at 5YYY if they had the inclination.
“If a volunteer wants to learn how to sell advertising or write advertising copy, or go on air and become an announcer, you can - there’s heaps you can do,” she said.
Melanie said many people believed sponsorship sales was a difficult job to execute but she said it was all about listening.
“When I first started doing sales, I worked in a Telstra call centre calling people’s home phones and it was tough,” she said.
“I had never done it before, and you realise really it’s just listening.
“You listen, you ask more questions, find out what the client wants and just make sure you have given them the right thing.
“It’s about listening not pushing, when you think about it like that it’s not scary - it’s really fun.”
Melanie said this process of listening to the client without pushing did not change when she later worked as an appointment setter calling national executives at top 100 companies like BHP Billiton and Suncorp and Centro.
“You get to go out to these businesses and see how they run, and get to know what makes them tick, it’s really interesting,” she said.
Melanie said her next steps were to be trained to go on air and do her own show.
“I want to do more community talk shows, I was thinking like a chat show, a political show, health show or even a kids’ show, something that is community minded and is going to help people,” she said.
Melanie said community talk shows like announcer Anne Cunningham’s new show ‘Community Soapbox’ on Friday at 2pm were an excellent way to allow people to know what’s going on in Whyalla and social services available.
Melanie said looking towards the future she wasn’t sure if her home was permanently in Whyalla but she had a lot of goals within 5YYY she wanted to help it achieve.
“I just want to get this as successful as possible and see what happens,” she said.
“I just want to do what I want to do, [something] that’s enjoyable, productive and fun.”