When you want to get the word out about your latest program or service or even if you just want to call more attention to your non-profit, a public service announcement (PSA) is just what the doctor ordered. A well-produced PSA can change minds, get people to act and if you play your cards right you might even get a chance to go viral. The following are some ways to plan the perfect public service announcement for your organization or cause.
This is the first question you should ask yourself when planning a public service announcement. Whatever you decide, you must be clear and concise. There should be no confusion as to what the PSA is trying to say. Most public service announcements try to get the public to change their behavior: wear seat belts, look both ways before you cross the street, don’t stand under trees during a thunderstorm, you get the idea.
For our example, we are going to pretend that we are a church putting on a PSA to urge people to stop drinking and driving. Once you have a clear goal in mind, you will be ready to start planning your PSA step-by-step.
The Subject of Your PSA
This is the step of the public service announcement where you determine your subject matter and what you will cover as you inform your audience about your issue. Get the entire group together and make it a community effort if you hope to produce an informative PSA.
If we go with our example, we might get all the church leaders and anyone else who wants to participate to talk about the dangers of drinking and driving. We might take suggestions, such as:
- Mention how many deaths are caused by drunk driving each year.
- Show Safe-For-Work (SFW) footage of drunk driving accidents.
- Talk about ways to cut down on drinking and driving.
- Change public behavior by encouraging people to get a designated driver or call a taxi if they are going to drink.
People may throw out suggestions and you may not use all of them, but at least you will have an open discussion that can ensure that your public service announcement is as informative as possible.
The last thing you want to do is put out a public service announcement that is incorrect or that puts out bogus facts that you gleaned from some Onion-like website. Don’t get lazy when it comes to doing the proper research. Check your facts, including all statistics and your PSA message will be more likely to hit home.
Write An Engaging Script
Script quality is crucial if you want people to watch your PSA until the very end. Get someone in your organization to write a script or have everyone write one and vote on the best one to use in the actual PSA. You can also hire a professional writer who will be trained to keep the pace engaging for those watching.
Engagement is the key when creating a PSA script. Talk to your audience, entertain them if possible and make your point quickly. Above all, keep things short. Five to ten minutes is acceptable, but the shorter the better. Assume that your audience has a short attention span and your PSA will have a greater impact.
Establish a Presence on All Mediums
Don’t just launch an online PSA or only a TV PSA. Go for all of the above if you want to reach the most people. You should have an actor for your TV and online PSAs, that same actor or a voice actor for your radio and podcast commercial PSAs and a writer for your written public service announcement that can go in newspapers and online.
If you don’t want to feature a live person talking, you can do a slide show or use animation. Think outside of the box and allow the people that make up your organization to put in their two-cents. You never know what kinds of ideas you’ll get and their assistance may make for an award-winning public service announcement.
Once your PSA is ready, start contacting your local TV and radio stations, create some YouTube videos and contact your local newspaper. The world must see your public service announcement and the more people you call or contact, the easier it will be to spread your message far and wide.
If you plan your public service announcement to a ‘T’, if you have a script that is both informative and entertaining and if you attack all mediums, you’ll have a PSA that really succeeds in getting its message across.