The Broadcast Age began about 75 years ago when KDKA, America's first commercial radio station signed on in Pittsburgh, PA.," says Rick Ducey, Senior V.P. for Research at the National Association of Broadcasters. "This created a whole new experience for the audience which began relating to people on radio as trusted friends," he observes.
According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, Americans spend 22 percent of their time listening to the radio, listenening from 14 hours to over 21 hours every week, depending upon their age. Its portability, coupled with its ability to segment listeners by their program tastes, has contributed to its long standing popularity.
There are nearly 13,000 AM and FM radio stations in the U.S., with about two-thirds of the non-duplicating stations (where AM and FM do not use the same programming) regularly using public service announcements. However, before mailing PSAs to stations, there are a variety of details you should consider when preparing your campaign plan. Some of these include:
- Establishing a budget for getting your radio PSA package produced, designed, replicated and mailed.
- Deciding how you intend to produce your PSAs - whether you will hire an independent producer, having them produced by your advertising agency, or producing them internally.
- Selecting an experienced radio PSA distributor. They should present a plan to target stations that reach your primary and secondary target audiences; show samples of packaging that will attract the attention of public service directors; develop a timeline for getting various packaging elements designed, printed and mailed and discuss how they intend to evaluate campaign impact.
Establishing a Budget/Selecting Material Formats
Your radio budget will depend largely upon who your producer is, the talent you use (famous names obviously cost more unless you can get them to do it pro-bono), and whether you use orignial or library music. However, there are a few guidelines you can use to determine how much money you need to allocate for a professionally executed radio PSA campaign.
"Your radio production must be even better and more creative than television, because you don't have visual images, you have to create them with words and sound effects."
"Since radio is not a visual wholesale dessert boxes medium, it is important to put a lot of thought into the creative message, " points out Roger Vilsack, an award-winning producer with more than 25 years experience in the medium. "Your radio production must be even better and more creative than television, even though you will spend a lot more on TV production. Because you don't have visual images, you have to create them with words and sound effects," Vilsack says.
While a lift of TV sometimes works, "a good TV spot shouldn't work in radio," Vilsack points out, although upon occasion a TV lift can be used for radio. He also advises to get the very best talent possible for your radio production "because your radio spot is going to depend upon people who don't just read the copy but who can act it out." Vilsack advises selecting talent from the major markets, especially New York, where there is a big pool of trained talent available.
Vilsack recommends budgeting from $4,500-$20,000 for the radio production, depending upon the number of voices, music, and sound effects. Creative fees for direction, script writing and talent selection will cost another $2,500 - $5,000.