Once upon a time there was an Emperor whose kingdom ran a broadcast Public Service Announcement campaign. It was so popular that every television and radio station in the kingdom aired it (it never hurts to be the Emperor).
When the campaign’s “earned media” report arrived the Emperor was heard saying, “Look at these results! They’re almost too good to be true.” In fact, they were.
Months went by and one day the Emperor’s CFO came to see him. It was year-end and the kingdom’s CPA had just completed his annual audit of the books (yes, even empires have books and auditors). “I just learned, my Lord” the CFO said, “that the royal CPA found the valuation you received was not prepared in compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Standards (or GAAP). Rather, it was prepared using guesses and estimates,” or what the CFO cleverly called “guesstimates.”
“Gasp!” the Emperor said. “What is GAAP?”
“GAAP, Sire, are the accounting rules all empires, kingdoms, nonprofits, and corporations are required to follow when they prepare their financial statements. And, when it comes to broadcast PSA campaigns, GAAP has very specific rules about how earned media must be calculated. You see, your lordship, your earned media public relations valuation has created an accounting problem for our CPA.”
“Let me explain. Whenever even a single station airs a PSA, my lord, it is making what accountants refer to as a Gift-In-Kind donation to your kingdom. And like every other kind of donation your kingdom receives, Gift-In-Kind donations must be reported properly on kingdom’s financial statements. Unfortunately, the people who prepared your report either didn’t know about this or didn’t have the tools and resources to do it properly.”
“What am I going to do?” the Emperor cried. “Even I have donors and a Board of Directors that I am accountable to! I am going to be exposed, naked at the next Board meeting for all to see. It’s going to be like when I wore that imaginary outfit to the last Board meeting!”
So, the next year, before the Emperor began planning his new PSA campaign, he called Connect360, the only company whose earned media reporting process is in full-compliance with GAAP and under the supervision of a CPA. When he did, he learned that GAAP compliant valuations do not necessarily cost more or result in lower valuations. In fact, they often have more impressions, larger earned media values, and provide tons of valuable marketing and audience information. This made the emperor, his CFO, CPA, and Board very happy.
Next time you are thinking about creating a PSA campaign, why not call Connect360, the specialists in producing, distributing, promoting, and valuing PSA campaigns. When you do, you will learn how a properly managed campaign can create extraordinary awareness and ROI opportunities for your organization, which will allow you too to impress your CFO, CPA, and Board of Directors.
About The Author
Steve Edelman is a Partner and President of Connect360. He is a leading expert on the measurement, valuation, and financial reporting of Public Service Announcements by not-for-profit organizations.
About Connect 360
Connect360 is a leading media placement agency driving measurable results for some of Charity Navigator’s highest-ranked nonprofits, well-known associations, government agencies and public relations/marketing firms.