10 Insights from PSA Directors

2024 Williams Whittle Annual PSA Director Preference Survey

Public Service Announcements (PSAs) are the most powerful communications channel available to a nonprofit marketer. PSAs are also the most cost-effective way to raise awareness of an issue to a mass audience. In fact, our 2024 Annual Donor Survey shows that 33% of donations have been given as a result of a PSA.

PSAs have been on American airwaves for nearly 100 years, and the way people consume media has changed significantly. So has the way community affairs managers manage their airways for good.

This 13th Annual Williams Whittle PSA Director Preference Survey was distributed to approximately 2,248 TV and radio stations nationwide from our proprietary PSA database in March 2024. Every year, we ask PSA Directors what trends they are seeing and what impact that has on their ability to deliver free media placements for nonprofits. While some trends have remained the same, there are many opportunities for nonprofits to appeal to networks and local stations, even during an election year.

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Here are the top 10 insights:

Insight #1:
Nonprofits should avoid election windows in 2024, especially during the months prior to November 5th.

Insight #2:
Similar to previous years, the highest inventory for PSAs is in Q1 and December. This election year however, there are lower avails in the spring, summer, and fall.

Insight #3:
The number of PSAs received per week is significantly lower than previous years, giving nonprofits a greater chance to have their PSA selected to run.

Insight #4:
PSA Directors feature PSAs that align with station interests. In 2024, the top themes stations focused on include Children, Healthcare, and Military/Veterans themes. This is closely followed by Environmental, Poverty/Human Services, and Education themes. For 2025, the anticipated PSA themes that stations plan to support shift slightly with Environmental themes leading the way, followed Poverty/Human Services and Children, then Healthcare.

Insight #5:
40% of stations are NOT more likely to run a PSA from a well-known nonprofit versus a smaller lesser-known organization. 41% of stations say it depends on the message and stations preference for a local connection.

Insight #6:
The amount of time a station keeps a PSA in rotation varies. PSA’s should be distributed a minimum of 2x per year to keep a nonprofit top of mind.

Insight #7:
While PSAs are the main focus of PSA Directors, 42% of PSA Directors will also connect you to the editorial department to talk about the issues on air.

Insight #8:
While PSA Directors want to air as many PSAs as possible, PSAs associated with a for-profit company will require a second look.

Insight #9:
PSA Directors appreciate a variety of creative styles! All types have a similar chance of being aired, however stories from beneficiaries rank higher than factoids, statistics, and infographics.

Insight #10:
PSA Directors are most likely to choose high-quality PSAs that appeal to their local audience. :30 spots are the most common available inventory, followed by :15, then :60 spots.