Once you’ve established your purpose to inform or persuade you are ready to start planning your campaign.
A mix of media that deliver the same message over time is the most effective. Media costs can be prohibitive, but
there are resources that Phase II communities can use to make campaigns more affordable.
Because many Phase I NPDES communities have already been mandated to conduct stormwater outreach and awareness, a wealth of pre-produced messages exist. Once permission by the owner has been obtained, these can
be adapted for use in your community. This group of materials is currently available, but you may wish to create your
own or use some from other sources.
Creating your own flier, print, radio or TV ad is more expensive than using other materials, but local messages carry strong appeal. Scenes depicting local water bodies can be used along with local residents or celebrities. Many radio, newspaper and TV stations are capable of producing public service announcements. Advertising agencies and public relations companies can also perform this service.
All media choices come with benefits and costs. Most of these revolve around two basic marketing tenets: reach and frequency. Reach refers to audiences - how many people you can reach using a given media. TV, newspapers, radio, billboards and some Web sites reach large numbers of people around the clock. Trade shows, agriculture magazines
and speeches at Rotary or Lion’s Clubs reach fewer people, but they may be precisely the target audience you need
to reach. General media usually deliver broad appeal messages most efficiently. Don’t waste scarce funds delivering
a message that only appeals to a few such as conservation tillage or construction erosion BMPs - to an audience
with only a few farmers or contractors. Here is a list of some media options for you to consider
Frequency refers to how many times your target audience receives your message. Often called “impressions,” research shows that audiences need to hear messages a minimum of three times in order to remember them. The impressions can be made up of a mix of different media, but the messages should be consistent across media to enhance the chance your audience remembers your message.
Print: Newspaper, free-standing inserts; press releases, guest editorials, news stories
TV: PSAs and sponsorships on network, cable, public access; public affairs shows, news stories
Electronic: Web, e-mail, PowerPoint, CD/DVD, streaming video
Radio: PSAs and sponsorships; public affairs shows, talk shows, news stories
Outdoor: Billboards, signs, sides of buses, bus shelters, taxis, window signs, storm drain stencils,
Collateral Brochures, direct mail, mail inserts, bag stuffers, bumper stickers, point-of-purchase displays, specialty items (e.g. keychains, mugs, magnets), coloring books, mascots, tray-liners, exhibits
Events: Fairs, trade shows, demonstrations at schools, libraries and clubs; speeches, stream and beach cleanings, storm drain stenciling, wetland and rain garden plantings, essay, poster and garden contests,
dog park openings
Because so many communities are required to educate on the same topic, economies of scale are available by collaborating on media purchases. Recent media industry buyouts left relatively few companies controlling a variety
of media outlets across the state. Specialty advertising items - like keychains, notepads and drink cups are more affordable when purchased in bulk.
Messages designed to produce a public benefit are classified as “public service announcements,” or PSAs, by the media industry. Most media outlets continue to run some free PSAs, but ensuring your message is heard enough times by enough people usually requires paying just like any other advertiser.
Municipal status conveys a benefit because many media outlets offer nonprofit advertising rates and if asked may match a portion of free ads to paid. Other media outlets are willing to sponsor some or all campaign costs. As a municipal entity, sponsorships for exhibits, campaign items and airtime confer tax write-offs for the donors. This is true of all donors, so consider requesting campaign assistance from local business organizations.
Sponsor recognition - in the form of logo placement, a Web site link or a sign at an exhibit can motivate donors. Companies know the value of associating their public image with good causes. Stressing that advantage is an excellent way to begin a successful sponsorship!
If you plan to offer donor announcements or logo placement, here are a few tips. Before you request donations, have in place a method that applies all mentions equally. For logo placement, specify a certain percentage of the space allowed for this use, per donor. The same applies with time devoted to audio mentions in radio or TV ads. If you plan to offer logo placement on your Web site, determine a way to evenly distribute the logos.
The only exception to this if you have different funding levels with corresponding levels of donor placement. Here,
all “gold” sponsors receive a certain time or space or Web page real estate; all silver sponsors receive a smaller
amount and so on.
Doing this planning ahead of time has two major benefits. First, you will know exactly what you can offer your sponsors, based on their contributions. Second, it helps your organization avoid accusations of favoring one donor over another.
The more you know about your audience, the better you can reach them. TV, radio and newspapers in particular have
a wealth of data to locate segments of their audiences. Different messages lend themselves to certain segments of the audience, just as some audiences use one form of media more or less than another.
Age is often an important consideration. So are education, marital status, economic conditions and career choice.
Every group differs, but youth generally prefer music radio, while talk radio attracts older listeners. Homeowners, a
target for lawn fertilizer application messages, probably don’t watch too many cartoons. And while many people subscribe to newspapers, consider which section your audience reads most; is it sports, news or the feature articles? Sales representatives from various media outlets can help guide your choices, but here are a few bits of research to
get you going. As with all market research, there are no hard rules merely an increased likelihood
you will find a match between a given activity or interest and within that group.
Most media outlets require new clients to fill out a credit application, so you will need to have some basic financial
data to fill out the forms. Picking the schedule, in the case of broadcast media or print, is often the next step. Like
most products, broadcast time and print space costs vary according to how often you use the service and the size
of the purchase. One-time advertisers can expect to pay more than those who advertise each week of the year. Prime time and drive time cost ads cost more than those that run in the middle of the night, just as larger ads in the front
section of the paper generally cost more than a simple classified ad.
Municipal entities have special status as nonprofit entities that for good or ill can be considered newsmakers.
This special status is a tremendous advantage when seeking free media mention.
News releases, press conferences about local stormwater events, guest editorials and speeches about stormwater facts and related news items make materials for news and feature stories. Some possible topics and samples with North Carolina background information are available here.
Your organization probably already has a Web site, so add pages with general stormwater information and local statistics, news and events. A children’s section and teacher resources help attract schools. Here are some pages to link to or you can create your own.
Contact your local new outlets so you know where to send information. Don’t forget local weeklies geared toward entertainment news or those geared to parents, older residents and sports enthusiasts. At minimum, many feature calendars that can list your events.
Trade associations, civic groups, schools, interest groups, churches, hobbyists, PTAs, neighborhood watch and even newcomers have newsletters. These targeted publications allow you to refine your message to businesses, families and other interested parties with general facts, local statistics and advice tailored to their interests, general education levels and impacts. An introductory level article about stormwater is available here. If you like, it can be customized with data from your area.
If your area has a local cable access station, it represents a good opportunity to reach the public, although audiences are generally smaller than broadcast media. Local public radio stations, including college stations, are more likely to host public affairs shows during prime time, but area network affiliates do as well. Contact the public affairs directors at area outlets to suggest a show about stormwater. Here are some basic speaking points and a PowerPoint show you can use.
Speakers for schools, civic groups, library programs, trade or professional groups are usually in demand. A simple five- minute presentation can deliver basic facts and offer the audience a way to follow-up. Be sure to provide your Web site address and let audience members know brochures or some other information source are available. To avoid waste, it
is recommended you only let interested audience members take whatever brochure or flier you bring.
Regulatory workshops for professional, trade and crafts people are often an excellent way to reach targeted audiences. Here, presentations can be geared to specific audiences requirements and usually are more technical in nature.
A year-long plan is recommended. The larger your media buy, the more negotiating power you possess. Approach media competitors within your market separately and encourage them to compete for your business.
If you know your campaign budget already, distribute expenditures through the 12-month period. Messages repeated consistently have a stronger chance of being remembered. If your funds are insufficient to run a campaign with enough frequency to make audiences remember, isolate your ad runs to those times most important to your area. If over-fertilization is a local problem, run PSAs during peak lawn fertilizing times. Limit car wash and pet walking messages
to summer months. It is more effective to run an effective campaign for a few months than to run one commercial per month over a year.
If you plan to rely on fundraising for part of your budget, plan ahead where you will put the funds as they become available. Media plans like these can be an important fundraising tool, because they show donors how and where their funds will be used.
Plan to use a mix of media wherever possible to reach the largest amounts of people. We all know someone who never watches TV, reads the paper or listens to radio, but chances are they do not avoid all three. Using a mix of media gives you a greater chance of reaching everyone in your community.
While broadcast media may make up only a segment of your campaign, many Phase II communities state they
lack experience purchasing this commodity. Because an in-depth EPA survey shows that individuals prefer to get environmental information from TV, radio and outdoor sources, many Phase II communities should consider their
use strongly. Despite the high costs associated with broadcast media, it appears, to be both an effective and
preferred source for many community residents.
Free outlets like public affairs shows and speeches are important campaign elements, too, and should not be neglected if broadcast media is chosen as a campaign element. They all make up a part of an integrated outreach and awareness media campaign.
Push & Pull Marketing
Printed materials, especially direct mailers or brochures, are often tempting to use, but be cautious in how they are presented. Brochures mailed or picked up and cast away unread only benefit the printer!
If your goal is to inform, make sure your message shows how the data will be of benefit to the reader. If your message
is to persuade a behavior change, it is best to make sure your audience is informed before asking them to act on data they may not have received or remembered. Better yet, state your change message in such a way that residents want
to learn more. This type of marketing is called "Push and Pull” marketing that presents an unsolicited message, as in aTV commercial. “Pull’ marketing asks the audience to visit a Web site for more data, sign up for a newsletter, call
a toll-free number to learn more or request a mailing. Once an audience takes these steps, you can be fairly safe assuming they want the materials requested.
You have chosen your message, decided on a budget, planned your campaign and now it is being delivered. How do you know if the message went through? What will you enter on that section of your permit?
Discovering if the message was delivered is fairly simple with paid, broadcast media. Outlets know how many persons subscribe to a given paper or are likely to be watching or hearing a given show. Your media or ad agency sales representative can give you these numbers. Getting numbers for public broadcast outlets can be a little more difficult
an area station or ad agency may be able to assist you with statistics.
Other media outlets require more a bit more work to determine audience numbers. If you give speeches, workshops
or demonstrations, take attendance! If you mailed an insert with a utility bill, ask the utility company how many people received it. If you delivered tray liners to an area restaurant, ask how many were used. Each time someone sees your message counts as one “impression.” This includes trade show attendees, listeners to shows or participants in events like stream or beach cleanings even if they are not your events. Partnering with stormwater-related agencies is one
way to discover what events take place in your area. It can also increase the reach and frequency of your message.
The number of impressions made for a given message, in a given time period, by specific media outlets, can be added
up by the day, week, month or year. These messages, media choices and impression counts form the basis for many
of the numbers required on the “Outreach & Awareness” section of Phase II permits.