Other public television broadcasters and program producers—not to mention non-TV properties—can learn some sponsorship packaging and sales lessons from Maryland Public Television.

MPT secured roughly $3.6 million in sponsorship revenue in the first quarter of ’10, up significantly from the year-ago period.

“Looking back to late ’08, it seemed like everyone froze their advertising and sponsorship dollars; it was pretty frightening,” said Steven Schupak, senior vice president, content enterprises.

While MPT has benefited from the improving economy and looser marketing budgets, Schupak said a strategic approach to packaging, selling and servicing also has played a significant role in its ability to secure new sponsors.

Below, IEG SR highlights five steps that have helped MPT increase its sponsorship revenue.

Integrate assets to offer added value. To better compete with commercial TV and other advertising and sponsorship opportunities, MPT offers integrated packages that include media, digital and off-line assets.

“If public media tried to sell on cost-per-thousands we would probably lose to our commercial friends,” Schupak said.

MPT packages often include live events and other non-media inventory. For example, the broadcaster last month hosted America’s Veterans: A Musical Tribute, around which it offered on-site corporate hospitality and exposure on the event’s Web site, as well as mention in the nationally distributed TV program and companion DVD.

“We don’t ask companies to pay us for a traditional media buy. We go where our viewers go, and we bring sponsors along,” said Schupak.

The tribute was sponsored by management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

MPT also is putting more focus on promoting sponsors through viral videos, social media efforts and iPhone apps, Schupak said.

Share content. In addition to granting sponsors exposure through broadcasts and the other means mentioned above, MPT taps its properties for content that its marketing partners can use independently.

For example, Reynolds Packaging Inc.’s Reynolds Wrap brand has leveraged sponsorship of Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen by posting recipes and a video of the barbecue guru on its Web site.

Reynolds also ran a promotion offering a trip to one of Raichlen’s Barbecue University events.

Help evaluate success. MPT is putting more focus on helping sponsors measure results from their partnerships. That includes tracking Web site traffic, links, etc.

“It’s not enough to say, “We’ll do these exciting things,’” Schupak said. “We have to say, “Here is the number of unique visitors, here is how much time they spent watching sponsored content,’ and other things we’ve learned.”

On top of that, MPT is working to provide benchmarks and forecasts of viewer numbers at the beginning of a relationship to make it easier for sponsors to measure success, Schupak said.

Limit sponsor clutter. To raise the value of its sponsorship packages, MPT typically allows no more than four sponsors for each marketing platform.

“Many sponsors today object to crowded messaging,” Schupak said.

Provide turnkey activation. Recognizing that many sponsors have limited time and/or resources to develop and execute leveraging programs, MBT provides assistance as part of its partner servicing.

“Sponsors are so busy. They want things that are self-activated,” Schupak said.

As an example, MPT offers to mail concert tickets to sponsor guests and coordinate RSVPs, he said. “Turnkey activation is critical. Otherwise the benefits will never be utilized.”