Lower-cost PSA options, media training tips, more

I have an important public awareness message, but not a lot of money to get it out. What are some low-cost PSA options?

I have an important public awareness message, but not a lot of money to get it out. What are some low-cost PSA options?

Radio offers the most flexibility at the least cost, says Annette Minkalis of West Glen Communications. One virtually no-cost option is to write a 30-second live-read PSA script and fax it to stations. The fax should include the script, plus a brief overview of the organization and the message's importance.

Another option is to send a recorded PSA either via e-mail or CDs through the regular mail, she notes. "To send an e-mail, simply send a message containing a link to the nonprofit's Web site to download the MP3," she shares. Sending CDs may cost a little more, but assures it is received in the right hands, thereby improving results.

Not sure what to do? "Use a hard copy for key stations and e-mail to others," Minkalis suggests.

"Be sure to only target stations that have listening audiences appropriate for your message," she adds. For example, sending a PSA intended for older Americans to an adult contemporary station is a waste of everyone's time.

Media training
Some of my managers are reluctant or unwilling to talk to the media. How can I get them to be more comfortable?

"First, assess their media skills," says Kenneth Haseley, senior counselor at The Ammerman Experience. Consider media training; its primary goal is to provide confidence and competence, he explains.

To help ease the interview process, provide your spokesperson with information about the media outlet, the reporter, and the kind of stories he or she typically does, he suggests.

"Know the stated focus of the story, as well as any possible undercurrents," he adds. "Prepare a list of the most likely questions, including [those] you hope the reporter doesn't ask. Help your colleague develop several key messages along with stories, analogies, or other sound bites. Then do a practice interview or two."

Sitting or listening in on the interview also helps, Haseley notes. It gives you a chance to offer follow-up information or corrections. And after the interview, close the loop by reviewing the story and giving positive reinforcement or constructive criticism and identifying opportunities for improvement.

Launch efforts
What is the best way to design and implement a "pop-up" retail front to support a brand or product launch?

Pop-ups are, by definition, naturally viral and can be useful for leveraging extraordinary media attention, says Bob Wheatley, CEO of Wheatley & Timmons. Just as the old real-estate axiom says, the key is location, location, location.

"If consumer traffic is paramount for sampling and brand experience purposes, then locating in a reliably busy retail area is paramount," he notes.

A pop-up should be a "total brand experience zone," adds Wheatley. As such, consideration should be given to what's inside the storefront that offers an engaging, entertaining, and informative experience for consumers and media alike.

"The concept for the store must relate directly to the DNA of the brand presented," he explains. For example, a hip pop-up cocktail lounge environment would work best for a premium liquor brand.

In the end, media attention delivers the payoff, so it's vital to arrange a preview night for selected media to experience the store and meet with experts and sponsors. "A 'day-of launch' coverage will work best when the event is connected to an emerging trend or relevant local event," says Wheatley.

Send your questions to: toolbox@prweek.com. Please contact Irene Chang if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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