Public Education Partnership Programs Offer Advertising Bargains to Credit Union Movement

A low-cost program offered by the broadcast trade associations of Washington and Oregon could provide the incentive for a campaign to educate the public about credit unions.

Under the Public Education Partnership (PEP) program, television and radio stations in Oregon and Washington contribute commercial inventory to their trade associations, which then sell the airtime to qualifying non-profits and government agencies at reduced rates. The campaigns run on a variety of stations in most broadcast day parts, and the return on investment (ROI) is documented to be much higher than that which individual station buys would yield.

“Our partners are provided airtime on a ‘multiplier’ basis,” said Mark Allen, president and CEO of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters (WSAB). “In other words, for every dollar spent by our partner, the association guarantees to deliver at least two dollars in airtime value. It’s a lot more bang for the buck!”

PEP advertisers cannot have purchased airtime directly from broadcasters in the previous year in order to qualify, according to WSAB PEP spokesman Heidi Persson. A credit union promoting its free checking program would not qualify for this type of program, but a non-profit group pooling resources to educate the public about the benefits of credit unions would, said Persson.

“As an example, the Lake Chelan Tourism Group is non-profit, but they promote for-profit tourism for their partner members,” said Persson. The tourism group has been a client since 1996 and called the WSAB PEP program a “sound investment” in a testimonial statement.

Oregon broadcasters offer a similar program.

“In 17 years, we have never had a client who did not like the results, and many have repeated multiple times,” said Bill Johnstone, president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Broadcasters. Johnstone recalls a 1996 campaign that produced an ROI of more than 20 to 1.

“The PEP campaign aired in August, September and the first week of October 2006, and when all the accounting was completed, the PEP campaign delivered in excess of $219,414 worth of airtime and 8,723 on-air announcements across the state,” Johnstone said. He went on to note that while the ROI for that campaign is hardly typical, he is confident the program normally delivers anywhere from a four-to-one to a six-to-one ROI.

Johnstone added that fees collected from PEP advertisers often fund scholarships for broadcast students, minority recruitment and other services the trade associations could not otherwise afford.

Clients are not able to pick the times or programs in which their campaigns will air, but broadcasters participating in the PEP program must document how often and at what time the advertisements air as well as the value of the advertising. Both Johnstone and Allen feel excellent time slots are offered to advertisers, and Allen pointed out that most large-market television stations in Washington are part of the program.

Persson recommends a year-long campaign to achieve the frequency and reach that make campaigns successful. However, she also said that a $25,000 budget for a three-month campaign would carry a 3:1 guarantee.

Interested marketers from non-profits and 501(c)(3) organizations can explore promoting the credit union difference by contacting Bill Johnstone at the OAB and Heidi Persson at the WSAB.


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