Consider public radio as a vehicle to advertise your product or service.
But before you do, make sure your target audience is there. It’s not every customer’s cup of tea – not the best place to advertise a “monster truck,” for instance. And it’s certainly not the place for a hard sell. Public radio has strict guidelines that forbid, among other things, any kind of “sell.” Your copy cannot:
- Have a call to action
- Mention price (or make value claims or propositions)
- Use comparative or promotional language that highlights your brand benefits
NO GRIT, NO PUNCH, NO PUSH
As you sit down to the computer, remember to be open-minded. You’re probably entering unchartered waters, here, and going against every advertising instinct you have; going against all your advertising training.
Essentially, you are about to write a radio “announcement” vs. a radio commercial, where there is to be no, “Buy nows,” no phone numbers, repeating over and over, no discussion about your prices and how great they are, no dramatic music and no sound effects. As a copywriter friend of mine likes to quip – “No grit; no punch; no push!”
When all is said and done, the 35-word message you craft will be read live by one announcer, in a very straightforward manner. “I am!” your message will proclaim – and little more. Remember, the public radio audience is upscale, intelligent and well educated. It is comprised of early adopters and thought leaders in your community.
Before and After
Not too long ago, a friend shared with me the story of a client who agreed the public radio audience was an ideal environment for promoting her brand. Despite her counsel, the client wanted to test the limits of public radio and submitted the following script:
ANNCR: Are you a full-figured woman who’s unhappy with how you look when you go out? Maybe it’s not what you’re weighing, but what you’re wearing. Get a free consultation at Rebecca’s House of Style. Go to RebeccaXL.com or call 502-555-XXXL to learn more.
The station rep was very helpful in shaping the client’s message to fit public radio’s guidelines (and the audience). Here’s a copy of the final underwriting message:
ANNCR: Portions of Public Radio are made possible in part by Rebecca’s House of Style. Now offering a wide variety of classic, sophisticated fashions for the plus-sized woman. More information available online at RebeccaXL.com.
Your ideal public radio message
The revised message came with the following note:
- You have a maximum of 35 words
- Telephone numbers count as three
- Each part of the web address must be counted
- The word “free” cannot be used, as it is considered price information
- Therefore, it is recommended not to use both a phone number and web address in announcements, as both pieces of information tend to confuse the listener.
Ladies and Gentleman, click your pens!
Now that you know the drill, it’s time to write your 35-word underwriting sponsorship message. Tell the world about your product or service – just don’t invite them to come see you. That’s inferred!
And, the format works! NPR has statistics that show 90% of their listeners think more highly of a business that sponsors public radio – not bad for a medium in which an advertiser can’t “sell” itself. I have a long history of working with public radio and, under the right circumstances (and for the right brand), it can be a great addition to your media plan!