NPR Sponsor Guidelines

NPR sponsor messages are distinctly different from the cluttered and chaotic world of commercial advertising. NPR sponsor messages do not shout at consumers or mislead them into action. They are not loaded with claims that can’t be proved. The best sponsorships are smart, compelling statements that respect and inform the NPR audience.

Across platforms, NPR sponsor messages are governed by slightly different regulations, but the guiding spirit is the same: guidelines are less about what’s “allowed” and more about the approach that works best for brands to craft sponsor recognition messages that connect with people in “the NPR way.”

NPR Digital Guidelines

The following guidelines address sponsor messages that appear on NPR’s digital platforms ‒ with the exception of NPR Music (see below) ‒ including audio messages and display banners on the NPR website, in NPR podcasts, in mobile apps, and wherever NPR content travels in the digital realm. 

Sponsor messages may include:

  • Qualitative language that describe a quality or feature of a product or service, provided it is not overly promotional and is true and accurate
  • Comparative language, as long as substantiation for claims is provided, and that the language is not overly promotional or denigrates the competition
  • Product and service pricing, provided the language is tasteful
  • Reference to free trials or products that are free, and availability of a discount or special offer
  • Learn more language directing the user to the sponsor’s website or other source for more information, to redeem a discount or offer, or to purchase an item
  • Tracking language such as “promo code NPR,” “offer code NPR” and “coupon code NPR”

Sponsor messages may not include:

  • Overly promotional or commercial language
  • Language conveying urgency or pressure to take immediate action
  • Misleading language or questionable claims
  • Language that can be interpreted as an NPR endorsement or testimonial
  • Language or design attributes that mimic editorial content
  • Overly intrusive animation or visuals
  • Views on public issues or references to political candidates or elections
  • Health claims

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NPR Radio & NPR Music Guidelines

The following guidelines address sponsor messages that are heard on air in NPR broadcast programs, and sponsor messages in NPR Music including Tiny Desk, All Songs Considered, and other music news, features and sessions on NPR digital properties.

Sponsor messaging that works on NPR:

  • Keep it clear: State who you are, what you do, and where listeners can learn more. Operating divisions and subsidiaries may be named as well. 
  • Focus on features: Instead of “fast and safe,” say “240 horsepower and side-curtain airbags.” NPR listeners prefer a direct approach. 
  • Reference current creative: Established, non-promotional slogans are allowed and broader themes often emerge from existing ad creative. 
  • Acknowledge the environment: Where possible, underscore alignment with NPR and listener values.

Sponsor messages may not include:

  • Comparative language (e.g., “leader,” “largest,” “the only”)
  • Qualitative language (favorable qualities, benefits and claims)
  • Inducements (offers, incentives)
  • Calls to action
  • Price/value language
  • Personal pronouns (e.g. ”you,” “we”)
  • Views on public issues or references to political candidates or elections
  • Health claims

Download Guidelines Summary & 2024 Broadcast Calendar
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