3 Considerations for Including Public Radio in Your Local Media Mix

local media strategy

Public radio is not for every client or every local media campaign, but it can be an effective and efficient media tactic to reach a niche audience.

So, what is public radio?  NPR or National Public Radio creates and distributes news, information and music programming to a network of 975 independent stations, reaching 26 million listeners every week.

You may be saying, 26 million listeners … that sounds great!

But, there are limits and restrictions with public radio, and there are several things you need to consider when determining if public radio is a good fit for your local media message.

1. Creative Message

In contrast to typical radio stations, NPR does not air traditional radio commercials.  They use sponsorships also know as underwriting spots. All advertising is governed by specific FCC restrictions and must be worded so not to advocate or promote goods or services of for-profit businesses.

The underwriting statements can only be 35 words, cannot contain a call to action, use comparative or promotional value or mention price.  Your message should focus on a branding message, to keep your business name top of mind with listeners.

2. Niche Audience

Public radio has a very targeted and loyal listening audience.  Compared to the general market, NPR listeners are typically highly educated and from higher income households.   The male/female breakdown is often more balanced, and the listeners include a higher concentration of members of the business community.

Public radio listeners want to support the advertising sponsors, and are often so loyal and consistent you don’t have to purchase a great deal of frequency.  According to NPR, 90% of their listeners say they think more highly of a business that sponsors public radio. 

This is a good fit for trying to reach a consumer with a higher income or a business owner, without as much waste that you might find with regular radio stations.

3. Cost

Public radio buys are based on number of weekly spots, instead of by TRPs.  NPR will rarely show up on a radio ranker, so traditionally qualitative information is used to drive a recommendation to include the tactic in the media mix.  You will not see a cost savings compared to a traditional spot radio schedule, but this can be a great way to reach the niche audience.

However, you will find a cost savings from a production standpoint.  Public radio sponsorships are read live on air, so there is no need to produce a radio commercial.  You just need to provide a 35-word script, which meets the FCC guidelines.  Your rep can help you tweak the copy if you have any questions.

Before you include public radio in your local media mix, make sure the tactic is the right fit for your message and overall campaign goals.  When public radio is used in the right local media campaigns, it can be a great success.
photo credit: Mr. T in DC via photopin cc

Linda Thomas

About Linda Thomas

Linda is the Director of Media Services at Sheehy+Associates, a regional advertising, marketing and media agency. With over 25 years in the industry, there isn¹t much she hasn¹t seen or done with regard to media planning and placement on a local, regional or national level.

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