Notes from Community Media Workshop’s 2008 Making Media Connections conference panel: Power of Word of Mouth, Paid Media and the PSA. A PSA is a public service announcement or free air time on major media that's given to non-profits.
This post is one in a series of four; browse the Making Media Connections 2008 category.
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Power of Word of Mouth, Paid Media & the PSA Panelists
Julie Somogyi: The Chicago Public Education Fund, PSAs, buzz campaigns, moderated the panel
Annette Minkalis: WestGlen Communications, PR Week PR ToolBox, topic of PSAs and value to non-profits, USO, Habitat
Shannon Stairhime: WOMMA, case study library, the WOMMA word, daily news to 15,000 WOM marketing professionals
Wanda Wells: Community Relations, Fox Chicago News, former news director and morning anchor for B103 radio, started out in radio as a jazz jock and switched to news, created many relationships in the community, get to know your stations, get to know their mission and do not be afraid to ask the station's director for help on where you want to go
First Steps to PSAs
What is your message? What are you trying to accomplish? Really needs to have a call action. Celebrity spokesperson are not necessary - try not to get one from a popular TV show because other stations will be reluctant to use.
Craft your message based on what people are already saying, give them a tool with the call to action.
Low-Budget Plans with Biggest Impact
TV PSAs are the most expensive in terms of production value, they cost more to distribute and produce. You get a big media value, though.
Radio is less expensive to produce, all you need is a soundtrack, also easier to hone in on your audience.
No-cost option is really just writing a live read script and sending it to stations that accept a live read script, can ask the stations to let you know if they'll use it
Find out if station will accept your script. Ask if it will it be read by a staff announcer or a disc jockey. How long will it be? 10 or 15 seconds is fine
Is there a copy book in the station? How often is it updated? Might I get a jock to read it?
Consider dividing groups up to take on a radio station or a TV station, have them determine if their mission matches yours.
Find communities where your target demographic is already talking. First - listen and then actively engage them with something that interests them, there are all kinds of ways of engaging them. Use Web 2.0 = shiny new apps, micro-blogging, so many platforms and places where people are community, small community around twitter, but it's a very engaged community.
TV with no budget? Seek out foundation money so you can create the PSA. If you have one big event, create something around that or create something that's more generic. PSAs get more play when there's some interaction in the spot or there's a lot of movement in the video. Talk to the head of Columbia College's TV department and see if you can convince them to take you on as a project. Create a video presentation to the corporate community - give them credit.
Did an extremely successful PSA on TV. Did not have the executive director, had a group of girls who represented their mission, because of like interest the TV offered the PSA on air. Filmed off cuff, very real.
Giving the PSA to a station that has your interests, gives you a leg up. December and January are the two months when TV is begging for PSAs, much more air time open. Send to Robin Robinson, if she's been working with you, she might promote it for you.
Key is be flexible on your end.
Question: What's the best way to establish those real relationships with people so they want to hear from you?
Put a very short email or a letter - she likes both. 1. Folks get sick. 2. People go on vacation. 3. Not everyone looks at the email in a timely manner. Pick 2/3: email, letter, fax. Listen and watch to see who it is that fits your organization. Find out if there is a community affairs and a public affairs person, different contacts - reach them both. Send a letter introducing yourself and make sure you say you're a not for profit. Then, call that person and set up a meeting to come in and talk.
What's your definition of success? When people don't know about PR, they may expect you to have a campaign everywhere. Define: what is success.
Clients measure success is different ways, media value can be taken as an in-kind contribution. Audience impressions, media values, certain markets. Has to be based on you and what you're trying to accomplish. Adjust strategy to fit goals/markets.
Slow burn and sustainable is best. Nielsen, Comsort does buzz monitoring. Do Technorati searches [has to explain-only 1 or 2 people know about Technorati]. All kinds of buzz monitoring mechanisms. Is the message morphing in the forums.
Question: How do you measure PSA metrics?
Put encoding on a master tape, it's a service of AC Nielsen. They know what station and what time. On a TV campaign, it can take 2-3 months to get on the air; some can last a year. SQAD, third party media. Sigma for TV monitors all stations. Radio is harder, do follow up with phone calls
Question: How to link a PSA to an event?
Anita, one of their anchors, will be the emcee for the Diabetes Walk. The Diabetes Foundation came to them to see if they would partner. Anita brought her relationship with them to Fox. Finding a talent at a TV station and incorporate them into your event. When a radio or a TV station hears their talent will be involved, you can be sure that they will cover it. Then, you'll have footage for the next year. Let the station's community or public affairs person know what you're trying to achieve. They will find out and create a marriage for you. Let them be your point person and your lobbyist. They can go through all of the bureaucratic stuff.
Expect it to take awhile to build the relationship.
Also create a generic version of the PSA on the same tape; it gives the station one for the event and one if they want to air afterwards.
Question: Tips for timing on PSAs?
Try to get the PSA to the station 4-6 weeks before the event. You have to remember with TV, we have to take in terms of time whatever is left over that is not sold. You would be amazed at the number of people that are awake and functional at 2 in the morning.
Another common myth is that PSAs only air in off hours. Out of 1 million airings, only about 1/3 were in the overnight hours. In radio 20% were in morning prime time.
Once asked for a 60 second PSA. Don't usually have that much time. Matched the PSA to the prime time programming. Plus, it also ran during the baseball games. NASCAR is fast-moving. If they're rained out, what do we do? She gets about 30 spaces for PSAs when that happens.
Questions: How do corporations brands partner with not-for-profits?
Couldn't use a PSA because two logos came up at the end because the corporations gave the money to make the PSA. Could work, if you say something like this public service announcement is sponsored by company name. Can't include corporate sponsor for event, they can talk to her and they will come up with options to buy time.
Do two versions: one branded and one not. Give stations options to help get on the air.
Pick up the phone before you begin producing to see what works.
Question: What are the merits of community calendars and connecting with Chicago stations for a suburban arts organization?
Invaluable. Keep in mind that stations have a skeletal staff. Offer to come in to the station. Join in with other arts organizations to share costs. Send your information to the assignment desks. She will tell you what works and what does not work.
Question: Do you know a company or organization who can produce a PSA?
Someone gave you a business card
Questions: How do you get someone on the news shows?
Spend a couple of weeks watching the show, looking at the caliber of guests. Will this work for your group? Look at these things in terms of being issue-oriented rather than event driven. Be thinking about the issue and how it's relevant. Be an opportunist and jump on the bandwagon.
Question: What is the likelihood to get something on a number of times?
If you send a generic announcement, it goes in for 60 days, comes out for 120 days and then may go back. A lot of non-profits think you need to get an athlete: it's not necessary. Let the video be about your organization and your program.
Question: Best to send in multiple requests?
Event? Send it in 4-6 weeks before the event -that's the deadline; she will do the best she can and will give you the best possible play.
In talking to an attendee afterwards - the one who gave the business card to the person looking for a PSA producer - we wondered why no one mentioned the Internet as a PSA platform. WOMMA touched on it. Our PSA experience? A slide for an event and scripts. I like the event and generic approaches.