Radio Postcards A Low Cost, High Impact PSA Vehicle

One of the major advantages of radio, beyond its ability to reach specific types of audiences, is its flexibility in formats used by. Unlike television or print which both prefer materials that are comparatively expensive, many radio stations will use live announcer copy typed on a plain white sheet of paper.

If you want to use a little more imagination, however, and cut through the clutter of paper that confronts any media outlet these days, try four-color live announcer postcards.

Both the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard recruiting advertising departments have used this technique successfully for years. Since on-air personnel at radio stations often make decisions about which PSAs to use, both military branches have entered dramatic photos of ships and aircraft on the postcards to appeal to young disc jockeys.

Live announcer copy for a thirty-second and shorter PSA is printed on the reverse of the postcard. A letter to the public service director, a bounce-back usage card and carrier envelope complete the package. These four-color postcards, produced in quantities of 5,000 or more at a time, can be printed for as little as 57 cents each. The entire package costs about $2,870 to produce. The same quantity of packages in a cassette format would be about $5,000, or $1 each.

Beyond their inexpensive cost, the greatest advantage of the postcards is that they really work. On average, the postcards will generate two-thirds of the average cassette airtime value, at about half the cost. In some cases, they have exceeded the attainment of even reel-to-reel releases, the most popular format with radio stations.

Over the past three years, Goodwill Communications has distributed and evaluated eleven live announcer postcards, for both the Coast Guard and U.S. Navy.

The chart above shows the value of airtime generated for the postcards which averages $434,622 based upon bounce-back usage cards. Interestingly, the best performing postcard which generated nearly $700,000 worth of airtime, was distributed by the Navy in early August 1990, just as the Persian Gulf crisis unfolded. Considering how easy they are to produce, their low cost and high usage rate, live announcer radio postcards are a technique that many organizations should include in their future communications plans.