Reaching Specific Audiences – March Of Dimes


How March of Dimes Used Radio to Reach Moms, African-American and Hispanic Audiences

With more than 500,000 premature infants born each year in our country – or one out of 8 new births – this major medical problem is having a serious impact upon our health care delivery system. It adversely affects the parents of the newborn, employers who often shoulder much of the cost, and on society as a whole.

As this graph indicates, given the number of premature births occurring in our nation each year, and a cost differential of nearly $45,000 per birth between full term babies and those born prematurely, the cost to society is just over $26 billion annually.

The March of Dimes (MOD) has been a leader in the fight to address premature births via a national campaign to help reduce the rate of premature births from 12.1 percent to 7.6 percent.

Specifically they have been:

  • Funding vital research into ways to prevent and treat premature birth
  • Educating women about risk reduction and the signs of preterm labor
  • Assisting health professionals in evaluating patient risks
  • Expanding access to health care

To launch this important campaign, MOD turned to Goodwill Communications, which has distributed hundreds of national radio PSA campaigns.

Why Radio?

Radio was the perfect medium to use in this campaign for several reasons:

  • MOD had very specific audiences they wanted to reach and radio permitted precise targeting opportunities.
  • The campaign was launched during the spring months just prior to vacations, when so many people would be traveling in their cars, at the beach and on the run. Radio is the only medium that goes with them.
  • African-American parents – one of the key audiences – have particularly high radio listening levels
  • Radio was much less expensive than TV to produce and distribute

Personal Messages

MOD´s national staff created compelling radio messages that would resonate with its primary audiences for the campaign – moms, dads, African-American and Hispanic parents. PSAs were produced for each of these audiences which told poignant stories about how premature births affected their families and the help they received from March of Dimes.

To provide radio stations with optimum scheduling flexibility, PSAs were produced in three different lengths – :60/:30 and :15s for each of the three target audiences. As part of its distribution role, Goodwill Communications made sure PSAs could be played on any type of equipment at any radio station.

While .MP3 files work for most stations, there are still some smaller market stations which use CD-audio to record PSAs onto broadcast carts, and then play those cartridge tapes on the air. We also provided ‘Enhanced CDs,´ containing the CD-Audio tracks, along with CD-ROM/MP3 files, which are in a user-friendly format.


We designed attractive packaging that included a script booklet with live announcer scripts which get used by many larger radio stations that want to brand the PSAs with their station name, the CD with a photo of an African-American baby, a hard cover carrier package and a business reply card for usage reporting.


Two other tactics were employed to engage radio stations – an aggressive promotional effort and the endorsement of Clear Channel Communications as a campaign partner.

To help spread the word about the campaign, Goodwill Communications created a special EmailGram that had the radio PSAs embedded in it as a live link, permitting recipients to listen to the spots. We then compiled a list of minority websites and sent the Mailgram via email to those reaching mothers, fathers, African-American and Spanish audiences.

Clear Channel Endorsement

Perhaps the most important tactic for this campaign was to get endorsement by Clear Channel Communications, one of the largest independent radio chains, with 1,000 stations across the country.

Once they agreed to become a campaign partner, we added the Clear Channel logo to radio PSA collateral materials and sent those PSAs only to Clear Channel stations. All others got packaging without the Clear Channel logo. Additionally, we had CDs made which were distributed at the NAB Radio Show.

Chapter Liaison

As a “chapter-centric” organization, March of Dimes always tries to engage its chapters in national programs because obviously they are out there in the communities where the real work gets done. For the Prematurity radio campaign, Goodwill Communications, created a custom website where chapters could go to access all types of information about the campaign, from distribution lists, to evaluation reports.

Specifically, we engaged MOD chapters in several ways:

  • By clicking on a map, they could see distribution reports for their state
  • We provided them with facts on the premature birth issue they could use as talking points in their outreach efforts.
  • They could click on a link to view an article with tips about making local outreach calls.

Via this custom website MOD chapters had all the tools they needed to get engaged in the national campaign and bring about change at the local level – a key to any successful national education effort.


Evaluation is a critical aspect of any March of Dimes educational campaign, as the organization is largely data-driven. Obviously, it is important to know what has worked and where more efforts are needed in any project, but in the case of the Prematurity radio campaign, we took evaluation to a new level.

In the past there was no way to track radio PSAs other than by “bounce-back” cards which do not always provide complete and accurate data. However, Goodwill Communications found a company that could electronically track MOD radio PSA usage in major markets. This monitoring, supplanted by bounce-back cards, provided significantly greater usage feedback than we normally could obtain.

Using a powerful graphics software package, several custom applications were developed to provide campaign metrics. The above map quickly shows where usage was above or below the norm for every state. MOD chapters and national office could see very easily where more work was needed – a tool much more intuitive than static evaluation reports. Also, when the user places their cursor over a particular state, key metrics about usage in that state are displayed, and each month throughout the reporting cycle, this data is automatically refreshed.

Finally, usage reports included key trends graphs showing exposure by market size, usage by length and program formats to see exposure among primary target audiences.

Evaluation reports also included a benchmark graph comparing our campaign to others that Goodwill Communications distributes. As shown by this benchmark graph, the MOD radio PSA generated more exposure than any other campaign Goodwill has distributed surpassing the next most successful effort by 21%. It generated just under 70,000 airplays, 48MM Gross Impressions and nearly $2.8MM in value

The Take Away – What Made the Campaign a Success?

There are several lessons learned from this campaign and here are the specific tactics
that made the campaign successful:

  • Compelling messages specifically created for each primary audience
  • The endorsement of Clear Channel radio network and use of their logo on packages
  • Engaging MOD chapters via a custom website and interactive reports
  • Aggressive promotional plan to engage stakeholders