Public sector advertising differs from commercial advertising in its intent, approach and strategic objectives.
Government needs media and marketing partners who understand the unique challenges and nuances of public sector and socially-oriented communications if it is to maximise its advertising and marketing budget. It also needs to work with partners that can help it reach a mass market that stretches from the rural corners to the urban centres with a coherent and integrated message.
Public sector advertising differs from commercial advertising in its intent, approach and strategic objectives. Where commercial advertising has the ultimate goal of customer conversion, government advertising usually seeks to inform the public about critical economic, social and legal issues or to drive large-scale social or behavioural change.
Government campaigns are complex, often demanding co-ordination from multiple stakeholders and needing to balance a range of short-term tactical outputs with longer-term strategic goals. They also need to address a fragmented and varied audience.
Take the example of SARS. It needs to communicate with people around seasonal events such as tax-filing deadlines, while striving towards the larger objective of driving a tax-compliant culture. This demands a different approach to a back-to-school campaign for a retailer or a product launch for a FMCG company.
Tool for social change
Advertising is a powerful tool for social change, as evidenced by the way that listeners on Mediamark-associated commercial radio station, Jacaranda FM donated 1.5 million litres of water for drought relief in response to an on-air appeal.
From raising awareness about education through the Project Khanya Solar jar campaign to informing the public about energy and water conservation, and from keeping people up to date with consumer rights laws to urging people to register to vote, advertising is a key component in government service delivery.
Dedicated public sector team
As an integrated media sales and solutions house, Mediamark has built up a dedicated public sector team that helps government departments and state-owned companies to craft campaigns and solutions that further their objectives. Using their insight into audience segments and consumer behaviour, the team understands how to craft messaging and marketing campaigns that dovetail with broader government campaigns and objectives.
Traditional media such as radio, television and newspapers have played a pivotal role in reaching remote communities. This is still the case, but with government services like tax filing and UIF going online, digital is also important. What’s more, growing smartphone penetration means that more South Africans can be reached via the Internet using geo-targeted solutions.
Mediamark group sales director, Cindy Diamond, says over the years, Mediamark has cultivated close relationships with the public sector. In doing so, the team has learned how to create messages and strategies that deliver the right message to the audience, and then leverage a range of channels to reach citizens with information and calls to action.
She says as a multichannel solutions provider, the company is able to combine radio stations and digital assets (including mobile and geo-targeting solutions) to influence the people that government needs to address. There’s often a great deal at stake, she says, from health education to raising of interest rates or addressing the drought crisis, so it’s key to work closely with government to meet its goals.
Tsatsi Rankapole is head of public sector Sales at Mediamark
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