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Trends in Public Service Announcements

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With more than ten years of experience in creating, producing, distributing, tracking and promoting Public Service Announcements (PSAs), we (Williams Whittle) consider ourselves experts in this specialized media. Last year, we developed and launched a survey to our public service contacts at TV and radio stations around the country. For years, we’ve spouted off anecdotal evidence to many of the questions asked in the survey, but lacked the data to support it. Now in our second year, the survey is showing distinct trends in this evolving marketing vehicle.

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Trends in Public Service Announcements

  1. 1. 2013 SURVEY TRENDS IN PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS Created by:
  2. 2. 2 ExecutiveSummary Williams Whittle is focused on attaining superior results for nonprofits through creative integrated marketing. We create relationships with new audiences for nonprofits through national awareness programs, using public service announcements (PSAs), signature campaigns and brand ambassadors, to name a few of our strategies. With more than ten years of experience in creating, producing, distributing, tracking and promoting PSAs, we consider ourselves experts in this specialized media. Last year, we developed and launched a survey to our public service contacts at TV and radio stations around the country. For years, we’ve spouted off anecdotal evidence to many of the questions asked in the survey, but lacked the data to support it. Now in our second year, the survey is showing distinct trends in this evolving marketing vehicle. 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements A note about our methodology. This annual PSA Preference Survey was distributed to approximately 1,425 TV and radio stations nationwide from our proprietary PSA database in February 2013. WilliamsWhittle.com
  3. 3. 3 KeyFindings • This year’s results indicate another significant leap towards digital preference, with more than half of TV stations and more than 90% of radio stations preferring digital delivery. • Even with the progress towards digital, for a PSA campaign to be successful, we suggest a dual approach of both hard copy and digital offerings. • The majority of stations want an evergreen message because the majority run PSAs for 1-6 months. • While almost 80% stations say they will purposely place a PSA on air based on its relevancy in the news, almost 60% said that holiday relevance doesn’t increase the chances of a PSA airing. • As expected, stations indicated that most of their PSA inventory is available in Q1. • Three out of four PSA Directors say they have particular preferences for PSA subject matter, but among the subjects we provided, not one was the clear front-runner. • Stations reiterated that some of their top factors for a PSA to get on air are: local appeal, variety of lengths of PSAs available (flexibility) and the creative quality of spot. 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements WilliamsWhittle.com
  4. 4. 4 Broadcast TV Only 29% of TV stations prefer tapes as the main method of PSA delivery. A whopping 53% prefer digital downloads (up from 35% last year) with an additional 18% (7% last year) preferring digital delivery (DG Fast Channel or similar) for a total of 71%. WilliamsWhittle.com 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements 29% 53% 18% Tape Download Delivery Exactly half of the TV stations that participated in the survey say that they receive 50% or more of their PSAs via digital downloads with 11% of stations receiving all of their PSAs via digital. And for those still not accepting digital downloads, 85% (75% last year) expect that their TV station will be capable of accepting digital download within the next year.
  5. 5. 5 Radio Only 6% of radio stations prefer tapes as the main method of PSA delivery. They are much more receptive to digital downloads since broadcast-quality spots can be easily attached via email. 93% of radio stations prefer a digital download/delivery, up from 76% last year. Currently, more than half of the radio stations say that they receive 50% or less of all PSAs via digital. DigitalTakeaway When we asked “Does sending a PSA only by digital download decrease the likelihood of the PSA getting on air?” stations are almost divided down the middle: 41% of TV stations and 30% of radio stations said “yes.” 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements WilliamsWhittle.com No 59% Yes 41% No 70% Yes 30% TV Radio
  6. 6. 9% 47% 23% 21% A Week Before A Month Before A Few Months Before It Doesn't Matter 6 PSALifespan Typically, PSAs fare better if they are evergreen. And the survey agreed; 62% of TV stations and 47% of radio stations prefer a long live period. Combined, about 40% of all stations said they had no preference – leading us to conclude that if a nonprofit has a PSA with a campaign specific time period (like holidays or promo periods), stations are willing to air those messages, too. For those stations that are willing to air PSAs with specific timing, 70% would like the PSA at least a month before, with 23% of those wanting the materials at least a few months before the request for airing. 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements WilliamsWhittle.com
  7. 7. WilliamsWhittle.com 7 PromotionalMessages During peak fundraising months in Q4, nonprofits often launch holiday-themed promotions, including PSAs. Stations have weighed in – 28% prefer PSAs that have a holiday theme while 13% don’t. And the majority, 59%, says a holiday-themed message doesn’t make an impact on their decision to air the PSA or not. 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements Yes No 59% say “it doesn’t matter” Similarly, almost 80% of stations say they will purposely place a PSA on air based on its relevancy in the news, like a flu-related PSA during winter or a disaster relief message after a hurricane.
  8. 8. WilliamsWhittle.com Activity The number of PSA distributions stations are receiving have stayed at the same levels as last past year– nine out of 10 stations say they receive 20 or fewer PSAs a week, with six of those stations receiving 10 or fewer PSAs. Only about 10% of the stations say they receive 20 or more PSAs a week. 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements “I receive 20 or fewer PSAs a week” 8 “I receive 10 or fewer PSAs a week”
  9. 9. WilliamsWhittle.com Frequency While almost 15% of PSA Directors don’t know exactly how many different PSA messages their station runs each week, 65% say they run 10-40 PSAs (compared to 45% last year), with almost 20% running more than 40 (compared to 17% last year). About a quarter of all stations (31% of TV stations and 19% of radio stations) say they will run a PSA indefinitely. But, most stations will keep a PSA message in rotation for 1-6 months (51% vs. 59% last year) while only a few will keep it in for 6-12 months (24% vs. 15% last year). 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements 16% 31% 21% 13% 19% <10 10-20 21-30 31-40 >40 9
  10. 10. WilliamsWhittle.com 10 Inventory For the first time, we asked stations “in which months do you have the most PSA inventory?” Overall, January, February, June and December were the months with the most inventory. 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV Among TV stations – January, June, August and December have the most inventory and among radio stations – January, February, March and June have the most inventory with 70% of stations saying inventory changes from year to year. DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC Average TV Radio
  11. 11. WilliamsWhittle.com 11 Cause Only one out of four PSA Directors say they have no preference for a particular PSA subject matter. But, among the subjects we provided, their preferences were flat. Subjects provided were: Last year, more than 20% preferred messages promoting child-related issues, with educational and health messages come in second and third, respectively. 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements • Children • Poverty/Hunger • Arts • Disease/Health • Animals • Disaster Relief • Military • Education • Environmental • Elderly • Financial • Sports
  12. 12. WilliamsWhittle.com 12 DeterminingFactors There are many factors that go into determining if a PSA will make it on air at a station. We asked PSA Directors to choose all of the factors that affect their decision. Here are the top five: • Availability of airtime • It appeals to our local audience • Variety of lengths of PSAs available • Creative Quality of spot • Alignment with station policy/partners 2013 Survey: Trends in Public Service Announcements
  13. 13. ContactUs We are a full-service ad agency that focuses on delivering effective and creative integrated marketing for nonprofits, some of which include the USO, the American Red Cross, SCORE, National Park Trust and others. Want to know more about Public Service Announcements and how they can work for your nonprofit? Contact us, we’re always happy to chat. Rob Whittle President & CEO 703-836-9222 x 124 rwhittle@williamswhittle.com Read our nonprofit-focused blog posts at: www.williamswhittle.com/agency-voice

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