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Rethinking PSA Development: Because Free Media Is Extremely Valuable

Rethinking PSA Development: Because free media is extremely valuable

Case Study: The Consumer Products Approach to PSA Messaging

Some may equate value with cost, but the gift of free media for public service announcements is extremely valuable.

Organizations should apply the same rigor that corporations apply prior to producing ads and paying for media placement.

We’re witnessing an exciting trend where the public, private, and nonprofit sectors work together to share best practices and learn from each other.  In her TED talk, #Melinda Gates shared that ‘nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola’ and how they use data to measure progress and make adjustments.  And in the Nonprofit Leadership Podcast (Dec 2018), #Ann Mei Chang shared how she’s applying best innovation practices from consumer products to the public and social sector.

Elevated Insights recently applied best practices from 25 years of experience in optimizing messaging for consumer products companies to nonprofits and the social sector.

Testing PSAs before full production is crucial because:

  • You want to produce and air a message that breaks through and connects
  • You’ll need pre-PSA metrics so you can measure whether the PSA works

You may have been in a similar situation to what TESSA was recently facing in Colorado Springs – multiple stakeholders had different preferences for how their PSA should be structured.

Rather than going on ‘gut’ or taking one’s opinion over the other, TESSA and Elevated Insights utilized an efficient test to let the residents and target market make the call.

TESSA PSA Development Recap: Elevated Insights is actively assisting TESSA in Colorado Springs to develop a new messaging campaign to shift attitudes and reduce domestic violence in southern Colorado. In January of 2019, Elevated Insights efficiently utilized one study to establish baseline measures and optimize public service campaign development. This study surveyed about 700 local residents to:

  • Assess current attitudes of what constitutes domestic violence
  • Set baseline metrics of claimed incidence of various forms of physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, & power/control/intimidation; and
  • Identify which of 3 potential ad formats were most likely to draw in the audience, clearly communicate, inform/shift opinions, and cause viewers to take different types of action.

With this information in hand, we provided clear strategic recommendations to the stakeholders for which ad format was most effective and what key content should be communicated within the :15/:30/:60 executions to most directly shift/impact attitudes.  Additionally, we were able to utilize open-ended optimization recommendations to provide direction on casting for the fully-produced PSA.

Each year, we’ll assess the impact of this messaging by gauging awareness/recall of the ads, measuring local attitudes on what constitutes abuse, and obtaining claimed incidence of various forms of abuse.  We’ll analyze attitudinal shifts and claimed incidence of occurrences annually, comparing shifts among those aware of this public service campaign and those not aware.  We’ll also track impact of the campaign with per capita changes in number of police calls dispatched to unique addresses for domestic violence and with changes in outreach to TESSA and other domestic violence organizations in southern Colorado.

Messaging will start airing within the next month with the team and stakeholders united and equipped with baseline data.

3 steps described more fully:

P    Pre-test attitudes and behaviors (incidence) prior to campaign launch among your target market- identify how prevalent different behaviors and attitudes are prior to the campaign launch – this can also help you prioritize message content in areas where it’s most needed

S    Select the best message format/creative execution – get feedback to which message best breaks through, connects & communicates the desired elements, and most motivates desired behavioral and/or attitudinal changes

A    Adjust & Advance – optimize format, content, and casting prior to full development

Elevated Insights is a Colorado-based marketing research agency applying best corporate practices to nonprofit and public sector challenges, enabling all organizations to best impact their desired target group.  Don’t hesitate to reach out with your unique challenge for a recommended testing approach.

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