Michael J. McCurdy – Founder/Publisher
Public Service Announcements (PSAs) as an Effective Marketing Tool
Public service announcements have been around since the 1960’s when a lawyer in Washington thought it would be a good idea as a counterpart to all of the cigarette advertising. It caught on, and the rest is history. The reality is, stations actually need PSAs to fill unsold air time.
The reasons why a PSA can be effective may be as varied as the reasons a nonprofit may choose to undertake a campaign, but generally a campaign can satisfy one of these objectives:
Push traffic to their website. A widely viewed PSA with a call to action that says “for more information go to our website” can be instrumental in driving tens-of-thousands of clicks to your organization’s website.
Support a fundraising effort. A big campaign push on television and radio stations in advance of a fundraising effort means that a viewer may be more familiar with the organization when the mailer arrives at their home.
Promote a new service or program. Whether it’s to promote an effort, get volunteers, or have people sign up for a special service, PSAs are a means to get the word out to the masses.
Set the nonprofit as a leader. It is especially important to “get ahead of the pack” when there are multiple nonprofits with the same or similar mission (for example, there are many breast cancer nonprofits). Frequent visibility can give the sense that the nonprofit is a leader.
While all of these are important reasons to launch a PSA campaign, perhaps THE most important reasons is a benefit many nonprofits are unaware of: the donation of the media time can be taken as an in-kind contribution. This is important because it can help a nonprofit with its programs-to-overhead ratio.
If you’re down on PSAs because you’ve heard that they only air in the “wee hours” of the morning or that it’s only smaller stations use them, you’re falling prey to common myths that we have proven to be false. Year after year we undertake analysis and historically, we find that two-thirds of all airings occur during normal waking ours (5 a.m. – 11 p.m.) and that more than half of the airings occur in the top 100 markets.
As we monitor the PSA landscape we are seeing three newer trends emerging.
First is a dramatic increase in Hispanic PSAs. Nonprofits are taking their mainstream PSAs and making them culturally-relevant to the Hispanic community. These campaigns have been wildly successful mostly because the Hispanic community is grossly underserved with PSAs on important topics, especially health, and the Hispanic media has the same needs as their mainstream counterpart, which is to find a way to fill advertising time that goes unsold.
Another new trend is going online with the PSA. This is often through banner placements or other means. The Internet offers benefits like being able to target your audience better by sending the PSAs only to websites that match the profile of who it is you want to reach. Also, if increasing web traffic is one of your reasons for launching the campaign, consider that the person looking at your PSA is already on line and a few easy clicks get them right to your website!
Finally, more corporations get into the act. While stations will NOT donate PSA time to for-profit organizations, corporations are partnering with nonprofits with a like-minded mission. The PSA is distributed on behalf of the nonprofit, and the for-profit has no visibility. One of the most common partnerships is that between pharmaceutical companies and health-related nonprofits. A pharmaceutical company may have a new drug coming out and they may partner with a for-profit dealing with that disease. The PSA message is “check with your doctor for new treatment options.” However, we are seeing more and more non-health partnerships between corporate and nonprofit. It’s actually a win-win for everyone. The nonprofit gets visibility that they otherwise may not be able to afford, the for-profit corporation gets out a message with wide play (since PSAs stay on the air for three to six months and longer) at a fraction of an ad buy, and the consumer hears an important message that may have timely relevance to them.
If this information has motivated you to consider a PSA campaign for your 2010 initiative, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Do seek the help and counsel of a reputable producer/distributor to assure the message is on point and positioned in a way that will give you success with the media. As with anything, there are common dos and don’ts and you can easily avoid pitfalls with free consultation.
We have created, produced and distributed hundreds of campaigns. For a personal presentation, or to receive a Power Point presentation:
Contact Mike McCurdy, Executive Producer of HealthyTelevisionProductions, a division of HealthNewsDigest.com Call toll free: 877-634-9180 or [email protected]
Michael J. McCurdy, Founder/Publisher
Reporting from the Pocono Mountains – 2
LIFE WITHOUT A CELL PHONE
Impossible you say? Walk down any street in New York City and you can bet that everyone is carrying a cell phone. And, it’s a safe bet that at any time 10% of those people are having a conversation with someone else on their cell phone. Have you ever forgot to take your cell phone when you left the house? Did it make you feel naked? All alone? Worried you’d miss a business opportunity; a date? Do you reach into your pocket everytime you hear one go off?
I have been without a cell phone now for 3 weeks; by choice. It’s a surprisingly wonderful feeling. It’s nice not to have to worry about being on a leash. I got tired of carrying my Verizon cell phone and trying to find the perfect high ground, or by standing on a rock on one leg in the Pocono mountains trying to call someone I didn’t really want to speak to in the first place. So I went to Walmart here in Pa. – my first time – and right to the electronics department where I found the staff to be very courteous and well versed, and was told that Verizon didn’t work here. I was told that I needed a local pre-paid phone called Tracfone, with a $60.00 credit. I rushed home to set it up and could not make a call from my house. Went outside, kept walking up the hill until I finally got a connection. Started to make a call, and decided that I was so laid back from being in the mountains, I didn’t want to get back in the tag phone game. However, for the next two days I got a series of calls for Julie from some teenage girls and guys. It seems that they put Julie’s number back in the barrel as soon as she stopped paying her bill.
I go for daily 3-5 mile walks through the forest of the Promised Land state park here in Pennsylvania (I decided to keep my cell phone on a permanent charge at the cabin) and it is so quiet you can hear your thoughts. My only concern is running into a black bear for which they are numerous around here. But mostly they come out late in the day, as I noted last week when I was introduced to a 400 pound bear named Bruno who sauntered up my driveway while I was checking out the stars. A local had mistaken him for another big bear they call Apache.
So, if you want to buy and ad on HealthNewsDigest.com, call me on our free land line:
877-634-1890 or email me at: [email protected]
I respond very quickly
Michael J. McCurdy, Founder/ Publisher-HealthNewsDigest.com
Reporting from the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH A 400 POUND BLACK BEAR
On July 1st we moved HealthNewsDigest.com from our home base in Manhattan, NYC, into a summer house in the northeast Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania . We are 10 miles from the nearest town, and 30 miles from the nearest city. Across the road from our house is a trail that goes through a forest where black bears and deer roam. It is formally known as “The Promised Land” state park. About 3,000 acres in size, it is 1,800 feet above sea level, and is surrounded by 12, 464 acres of Pennsylvania’s Delaware State Forest. The forests of the park consist primarily of beech, oak, maple and hemlock trees. Two lakes and several small streams add to the
parks outstanding beauty. The air is so clear, it seems surreal.
I slept 12 hours each night for the first three nights, without Tylenol PM. No fire engines, ambulance sirens or police cars. It was awful
As I toured the area by foot, I came across the local gas station about a mile down the road. Much to my amazement, it sells the New York Times, for which I immediately reserved one of the 5 copies it receives each day.
On the fourth day here, I was invited to a ritual of a nightly “bear watch” fire and barbecue, where the locals place breaded and buttered corn in the backyard of one of their houses, and at approximately 9pm each nite, adult bears and their cubs and some deer come to feed. For a true city boy, it is quite a site!
Not so, on the fifth night. As I sat in my driveway, looking at the stars, I heard what sounded like large rakes scraping across the asphalt to my left and rear. As the sounds got louder, I also heard what sounded like panting. A huge 400 pound black bear walked nonchalantly by me within 10 feet, and proceeded across the road and into the forest. It took at least 5 minutes for my body to defrost. It took another five minutes to push my eyes back into my head.
“Oh, that must have been Apache” said a local when I described my experience. “He’s harmless. Loves to introduce himself to newcomers.”
The next night, not to show any fear to the locals, I sat down in the exact same spot. At around 9pm, he came into view from out of the forest, crossed the road walking straight towards me, proceeded up my driveway, passed within ten feet of me, and into the bushes behind the house. It took 15 minutes for my body to defrost and 15 minutes to push my eyes back into my head. This is vacation ?
Next week: Reporting in from the mountains, Part 2
To email me: [email protected]