At a time in history when it seems that every day we are experiencing historical events that have the potential to literally change the world around us, how do we, as communications professionals, break through the noise? Forget the noise for a second, what about breaking through the fear, the hype and the panic to tell a story that might actually affect you, your family, your neighbors? Can we? Is it even possible? Does it even matter?
To these questions questions, I submit that the answer is YES. More than ever on both a personal and professional level, it matters. It matters to me personally to know that there are initiatives, programs, events and just some GOOD news in my community. It matters to me as a professional to know that the local media markets all over the country actually want to hear about these initiatives, programs and events and share them with their audiences. It matters. It’s possible. And we can.
Here at Boom we work with some amazing clients. We have the pleasure to be working with The Entertainment Industry Foundation (you’re likely familiar with their Stand Up To Cancer initiative) on a new initiative: Think It Up. Think It Up is the first-of-its-kind platform to fund student-powered, teacher-led learning projects in partnership with DonorsChoose.org. Our role is to maximize the message through Public Service Announcements on TV and Radio. Our focus is to gain national exposure by way of local network affiliates and media outlets. LOCAL. The key here is connecting the dots on a cause or issue that affects people in a specific community and making a case for the media outlet sharing it. Old school, one-on-one outreach. Not syndication/RSS, not viral, not digital. Just connecting a message with an audience. And it works. It’s not immediate, it’s not snappy or chatty. It’s local media relations.
We were thrilled to see that particular campaign firing on all media platforms this week an landing locally. In fact, in my own backyard. A local tie to the initiative was covered in the Denver Post this week…both their online and print editions of hyper local “Your Hub.” The feature focused on the first-ever Think It Up Live event that took place A Columbine High School (in my own Jeffco neighborhood.) Kids and teachers brainstorming ideas for powerful learning projects that will be submitted for crowdfunding on ThinkItUp.org. This initiative matters, the story matters, and local media matters.
As we approach Election Day, I question why there are so many political ads despite people’s constant complaints about them. But, it’s really quite elementary:
- Political ads are a cash cow for TV and Radio Stations. Stations are in business to make money and they are making hay while the sun shines: an estimated $1 billion will be spent on political ads this mid-term election cycle, according to Wesleyan Media Project; and
- Political ads actually work! Studies have shown that the candidate who spends more on their ad campaign wins. According to a 2012 study conducted by the nonprofit United Republic, the candidate with more money won the race 91% of the time.
As political ads start to flood our airways, we can’t turn on the TV or radio without seeing or hearing one. In fact, during the 2012 campaign, TV viewers had to endure more than 3 million political ads (source: politico.com).
This ensuing ad traffic jam will last until Election Day, which begs the question: is there any room left for the airing of TV and Radio PSAs? Yes, there is! While there is no denying that political ads will have some impact on the number of PSA airings, we have found that there is still a good amount of ad space left for the airings of PSAs. Political ad buying has become more targeted with less blanket media buys. This shift in ad buying opens up blocks of ad time for PSA airings.
In addition, demand will always exist for PSAs from PSA Directors. Yes, even during an election cycle. And, once a PSA gets into a station’s rotation, it tends to stay in rotation and the number of PSA airings will simply just ebb and flow around an Election Day. The rules regarding a PSA’s demand/airings, even in an election year, remain basic.
And, I actually see a real benefit to PSAs airing during an election cycle. Juxtaposed against a negative, sensationalized and unappealing political ad, a PSA only becomes more appealing and trustworthy. Viewers/listeners could be more inclined to head to a non-profit’s website to learn more about an organization and maybe even make a donation!
Non-profit organizations can take advantage of people’s dislike of political ads and seize this opportunity – they too can make hay while the sun shines.