Stations prefer substance over stars in PSAs

NEW YORK: If you’re thinking about using a celebrity in your next public service announcement, think again.

NEW YORK: If you’re thinking about using a celebrity in your next public service announcement, think again.

NEW YORK: If you’re thinking about using a celebrity in your next

public service announcement, think again.



VNR provider West Glen Communications’ annual survey of public affairs

directors at TV and radio stations found that the inclusion of

celebrities does not give a PSA a better chance of being aired.



Of the four choices given, 76% of TV stations and 85% of radio stations

cited ’relevance of message’ as the most important factor. The second

most important factor was familiarity with the nonprofit sponsor or its

cause, cited by 16% of TV stations and 11% of radio stations. PSA length

and the use of a celebrity spokesperson were the least important

factors, receiving only nominal response rates.



’Nonprofits think messages will be better received when a celebrity says

them,’ explained West Glen SVP of broadcast services Annette

Minkalis.



’But this study proves that a celebrity is not the overriding factor for

stations in airing a PSA. Basically, it’s about substance over

fluff.’



News Generation president Susan Matthews, who recently produced an ANR

featuring singer Christina Aguilera, said that while the findings about

celebrity inclusion in PSAs were generally on the mark, there are

exceptions to the rule.



’If the content is good, it doesn’t matter who’s saying it,’ she

said.



’But celebrities can pump up the numbers, especially if they appeal to a

specific audience or if they have a personal passion for the cause.’



Respondents to the West Glen study also noted their PSA pet peeves.

Among the top problems were receiving dated PSAs (16% TV, 25% radio) and

fielding too many follow-up calls (18% TV, 20% radio). Other annoyances

were unclear ’kill’ dates, PSAs sent in the wrong tape format (TV only),

a lack of background information on the sponsoring organization and

phone/Web site information airing too quickly for audiences to write

down.



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