Government Web strategies, benefits of in-kind PSAs, more

How can government agencies cut through media clutter?

How can government agencies cut through media clutter?

Government agencies are being forced to modernize their approach to reaching a broader audience. "Constraints prevent agencies from providing a full range of secure, current Web video services, and many agencies are losing customer attention to outside, insecure video sharing sites, such as YouTube," says Cynthia Cooper of The FeedRoom.

To improve the effectiveness of their communications, agencies like the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services are implementing new methods of integrating Web-based video into their communications strategies.

The key, Cooper explains, is to use Web video to transmit both newsworthy and mission-critical messages quickly and powerfully for speeches and events, training and field support, alerts and crisis coverage, and, finally, by offering 24/7 programming through a Web TV channel that allows the audience to tune in often and regularly.

"Most importantly, make sure you choose a vendor with proven experience and a matching tool set for your specific requirements," she notes.


When should I use an audio news release or audio bite line and when should I use a radio media tour?

Audio news releases and audio bite lines are good to use when the story has one consistent, straightforward message.

"A general rule of thumb is: If a story can fit on one page, with double-spaced lines, then the issue is straightforward enough to use an audio news release," says Susan Matthews Apgood of News Generation. Also, when there is a breaking news situation, either an audio news release or an audio bite line can be utilized because they both have quick turnaround times.

"If the issue is a little more involved and warrants more explanation than the contents of a 60-second release - issues like new medical treatment options, a multi-faceted financial or high-tech story, or an issue discussed as the focus of a television program - a radio media tour is the best option," she notes. "That way a spokesperson can really interact with the reporter to provide details and maximize their on-air time."
In-kind PSAs

When a TV or radio station airs a PSA, I was told that the value of the airtime can be taken by the nonprofit as an "in-kind" contribution. How does it work, and what is the benefit?

"The benefit can be a substantial improvement in a nonprofit's efficiency rating, which tells the amount of money a charity spends on programs vs. overhead," says Annette Minkalis of WestGlen Communications.

Choosy donors want to see more money spent on the cause, rather than salaries and rent. Even the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance rates nonprofits using the efficiency rating as one of its criteria.

Here's how it works: The time donated to a nonprofit is time that otherwise would have been sold to an advertiser, so it is considered an "in-kind" contribution, Minkalis explains. "Since media time is costly, adding the large amount of free airtime a national PSA can garner to your financial statements can boost the efficiency rating to show a higher percentage spent on programs," she notes.

For more definitive information, you can refer to the Financial Accounting Series Statement of Financial Accounting Standard No. 116, as published by the Financial Accounting Standards Board of the Financial Accounting Foundation.

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

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