PSA CAMPAIGN CASE HISTORY
ASHA is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 103,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Its mission is to ensure that all people with speech, language, and hearing disorders have access to quality services to help them communicate more effectively. Audiologists are hearing health care professionals who specialize in prevention, identification and assessment of hearing disorders, while Speech-Language Pathologists help people develop their communication abilities and treat speech, language, and voice disorders.
It is estimated that 42 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the total U.S. population, have some type of communications disorder, including hearing loss or stuttering and that this number is expected to increase as the population of our country ages. The economic cost of these disorders is estimated to be $30 billion due to lost work productivity, special education and medical treatment.
Language and communication disorders are a particular problem among children because they interfere with the basic mastery of language and education itself. Fortunately, many of these disorders can be prevented and that is ASHA’s basic mission. To educate the public about ways to prevent and reduce the impact of communication disorders, ASHA launched a national public education program with a theme: “Communicate for Life.”
One of the creative challenges when creating PSA campaigns for any category of professionals, including doctors, architects, accountants, lawyers, etc., is that there is a fine line between what the media perceives to be self service versus public service. The media – particularly broadcast TV – are very protective of their airways and it is their job to insure that campaigns submitted for public service airtime truly are designed to help the public in one way or another. Also, each of the media has a different policy towards public service time and space and the most restrictive is broadcast television. Cable TV, radio and the print media are much more flexible in terms of the kinds of messages they will accept and use.
Fortunately the creative team at ALH took advantage of this fact in the way messages were crafted. For television, the focus was on a young man who was trying to find a building on a college campus, but his questions were being interpreted as gobbledygook by the listener. The reference to ASHA was very subtle and the script was delivered in a powerful, compelling manner by James Earl Jones. One of the most recognizable voices in the world, Mr. Jones also suffered from a stuttering problem early in his career. The creative development team also took advantage of a TV PSA usage trend that escapes many other producers – the tendency to use longer PSAs.
ASHA TV packaging consisted of an attractive four-color label and a storyboard that was specially designed to get all components – letter, visuals and script – on a single piece of paper to make it quicker and easier for the media gatekeeper to review the submission. Dubs in the station’s preferred format were also sent via a heavy duty corrugated package to protect the tape in transit. The ASHA package had three different spot lengths – :60, :30 and a 15-second spots which gives the media flexibility in scheduling.
For radio, an inexpensive, but colorful package was designed by ALH that included a script booklet with live announcer copy, the CD with recorded PSAs, and a carrier envelope. An evaluation business reply card was also included in the package to record usage by stations.
Because there were so many different print ads in various horizontal and vertical formats, as well as different screens for magazines and newspapers, the creative team at ALH designed an attractive CD print PSA package which was sent to 7,500 magazines and newspapers. By providing art in digital format, print media can manipulate the artwork to meet their unique requirements.
To promote the ASHA PSA, synopses of the campaign were included in the Broadcasters Café, a newsletter produced by Goodwill Communications that is distributed to all broadcast TV stations that use PSAs, and CABLEPAK News, distributed to 500 leading cable systems.
Many people who are not familiar with public service advertising think
that to get PSAs aired, all you have to do is apply a set of labels
to a package and send it to media outlets. However, due to the intense
competition for earned media these days, it is much more complicated
Video tape is unquestionably expensive, and to minimize costs, it is very important to understand that not all U.S. TV stations use PSAs. The distributor must know precisely which stations provide an opportunity for getting exposure and which do not. In our ASHA TV distribution plan, a number of factors were taken into consideration including:
With these factors in mind, the ASHA TV distribution plan used six different channels to get PSAs to media gatekeepers:
The distribution plan for the ASHA PSA campaign consisted of just under 14,000 media outlets as shown here. Of these media outlets, 81% of them regularly use PSAs, which greatly increased the chance that the ASHA PSAs would be favorably received. This graph shows that of the total targeted in the ASHA distribution plan, just under 1,800 are ASHA PSA users.
the ASHA campaign, we were not constrained from targeting any particular
kinds of audiences because anyone can have a speech, hearing or language
problem. This graph shows the major radio program formats that were targeted.
For the ASHA print media distribution plan, we targeted a total of 7,000 outlets, including magazines as well as daily and weekly newspapers, and of these, 6,500 or 93% are regular users of our client PSAs.
As important part of our distribution and evaluation strategy is to post distribution and evaluation reports to a unique password protected website called the PUBSANS (Public Service Advertising Analysis System) GATEWAY which is located within the PSA Research Center maintained by Goodwill Communications at www.psaresearch.com.
On this site, we have posted ASHA’s TV (broadcast and cable), radio
and print distribution lists by state in case ASHA has any community partners
with which they wish to share this information. When reviewing these lists,
it is important to note that there
are two very important pieces of information reflected on the lists. In
the next to the last column of each report, there is a number which reflects
the Previous Usage Index (PUI) for that media outlet. In the final column,
there is a Y (Yes) or N (No) to reflect previous usage of ASHA PSAs. If
you see a very high PUI and a “N” under the ASHA column, that
media outlet should be contacted to determine why they are not using ASHA
PSAs. This is an example of how we provide “actionable” PSA
data that can make a big difference in ultimate campaign impact and effectiveness.
When distributing any client’s TV PSA, the first step is to place and invisible code on the TV master, which in turn gets copied onto each dub sent to stations. Using an electronic monitoring system developed by the A.C. Nielsen Co., we can then track PSA usage on all U.S. broadcast outlets and 30 leading cable networks in all 212 domestic markets. Since SIGMA does not track local cable or radio, we also produce an evaluation business reply card (BRC) such as is shown here that gets inserted into each package sent to stations.
The BRC asks stations to record their frequency and duration of usage
and return the cards to Goodwill Communications that has unique software
to produce finished evaluation reports. For print, we use a clipping service
to clip the actual PSAs that have been published and our software has
the value for every newspaper and most major magazines in the country.
For additional information on how we evaluation campaigns, see the evaluation
methodology statement on the ASHA mini-website referenced above.
ASHA “STRANGER” PSA CAMPAIGN
Values by Media Type
As this graph
shows, nearly two-thirds of all ASHA usage came from TV/SIGMA monitoring
which is by far the most accurate method of evaluation.
TV (SIGMA) Benchmark
This graph shows the comparison between the ASHA campaign and six other TV PSA campaigns distributed to a similar number of stations and tracked for 11 months. The ASHA “Stranger” PSA exceeded the six campaign average by 220%.
Key: Rotary International
Usage by Daypart
One of the biggest misperceptions about PSAs is that most people think they air in the middle of the night when no one is watching. As this graph shows, that clearly is not the case with the ASHA campaign that had two-thirds of all exposure in the best dayparts.
Usage by Length:
other common misperception about PSAs is that only the shorter length
spots get used. As this graph shows, half of all ASHA TV exposure was
generated by the 60-second PSA. This reinforces the importance of having
a mixture of different lengths to give stations some flexibility in scheduling.
Having longer spot lengths also gives the producer more time to register
key copy points and the call to action. Finally, there is minimal additional
cost in adding various spot lengths to the package, since there is up
to five minutes in capacity on the tape for no additional cost.
Perhaps the next most commonly held misperception about PSAs is that many believe they air for a brief period of time, only to be replaced by others as they come into stations.
While our typical PSA tracking period is 26 weeks, increasingly we are
recommending that our clients extend SIGMA tracking and this graph clearly
shows the value in that decision. As shown, values for the ASHA campaign
nearly doubled during the second 26 week tracking period.
standard operating procedure, every TV PSA distributed by Goodwill Communications
is sent to the “big four” New York networks, plus Fox. (Warner
Brothers and United Paramount do not currently use PSAs). We also target
25 national cable networks such as CNN, the Discovery Channel, MTV and
others with extensive reach. As shown here, nearly $250,000 in exposure
resulted from network airplays. The ASHA TV PSA was also broadcast to
more than a million military service people and their families on locations
throughout the world via the Armed Forces Radio & TV Network.
Usage by Top Markets:
of all ASHA TV PSA usage occurred in the top 100 markets, which is where
86% of all U.S. TV households are located.
media markets tend to be disparate, this graph shows a very significant
differential between geographic regions where ASHA TV PSAs were used.
We plotted the data for TV because the SIGMA data is so much more accurate
than that received from other sources and it accounts for the majority
of overall exposure. The exposure is weakest and below the norm in the
Northeast, about the norm in the Mid-west and Northwest, and far above
the norm in the south.
Usage by Network Affiliates
As a final broadcast TV quality measurement, about half of ASHA TV PSA exposure occurred on affiliates of the “big four” networks.
Another successful distribution technique we employed for ASHA is a “shared-reel”
distribution program called CABLEPAK. It is distributed twice each year
in the Spring and Fall, with PSAs from up to 16 different organizations
included in the package. PSAs are dubbed onto a single reel and distributed
to 600 major cable systems with 15,000 or more subscribers. As shown here,
ASHA PSAs were aired over 30,000 times in 189 markets, contributing more
than $1.2 million in exposure.
As another qualitative measure, the ASHA CABLEPAK exposure was compared against a benchmark of all 18 clients that participated in the Spring/Summer 2001 release. As shown here, ASHA was in the top 8 of all clients in terms of dollar value generated and was 34% above the benchmark value of $902,000.
here are the top five radio program formats in terms of dollar value and
the usage tended to be older and more upscale than is typical.
Print Values by Type
While we do
not have a basis of comparison, it would appear that ASHA’s daily
newspaper values are quite weak compared to other campaigns we handle
and in terms of the number of daily newspapers that regularly use PSAs
In general, ASHA’s first national PSA campaign performed very well,
especially given the nature of ASHA’s mission and the need to communicate
the role of ASHA’s members and also walk the fine line between self
service and public service. Its TV and cable attainment were significantly
above the average; radio was about average and print slightly below our
benchmarks. However, since TV delivers by far the greatest reach of the
three media, we view these trends as generally positive. If the budget
permits, we would highly recommend sending a postcard reminder to all
non-responding radio stations which would add $200-300,000 in additional
value to that medium. And if staff time permits, ASHA should consider
making some targeted phone calls to large circulation magazines and those
publications that reach its members.