Perhaps the most effective and least understood form of communication for non-profit organizations is the Public Service Announcement (PSA). With a storied history that goes back to World War II War Bond efforts and the famous “Loose lips sink ships” warning, the PSA has grown into a powerful mechanism that allows non-profits to tell a story, promote a cause, incite change, raise awareness or educate the public.
Some marketers might think the Public Service Announcement (PSA) is reserved for the so-called “major” non-profits, but any community organization with a solid message can take advantage of this highly-targeted communications opportunity to reach engaged radio listeners across the United States. PSAs are aired at no charge by radio stations and often remain on the air for multiple weeks. This exposure can significantly increase the potential reach of a message originating from a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization with a limited budget. The secret to an effective PSA campaign, however, lies in the writing and production of the piece so that it is impactful, will attract attention and motivate action. Here is some expert advice on what makes an exceptional PSA:
- Be selective: Radio stations receive a large quantity of PSA submissions, so they make choices about which ones they will run. Don’t overwhelm the stations by sending a PSA every time the organization wants to say something. Carefully plan your campaign and its message.
- Be professional: Stations have to maintain listener attention so your PSA must be produced in accordance with broadcast standards. PSAs can be created as 10-, 15-, 30-, and 60-second versions, to allow for maximum play flexibility. Provide them to stations in both a prerecorded and scripted version for live reads, as some stations prefer to use their own talent to deliver the message.
- Be inclusive: Unless you have a specifically defined targeted audience, don’t focus on just one age or ethnic group. Make sure your PSA appeals to men, women, younger listeners, and seniors. You may also want to consider creating Spanish language content that targets Hispanic listeners as well.
- Be creative: Don’t bore the audience! You want something that will make the listener stop what they’re doing and think, “Yes, I can support that” or “I didn’t know that.” Have an attention-catching opening, use professional voice talent, add music and sound effects if appropriate, and close with a strong call to action. Telling a story that resonates with the radio listener and provides some type of community benefit will improve your chances of getting your PSA on the air.
MediaTracks Communications is a leading provider of audio and radio services for the public relations industry. We offer a full range of Public Service Announcement (PSA) services including scripting, production, station targeting, distribution, tracking and reporting to ensure the message gets heard by the widest possible audience. Visit our website, call 847-299-9500, or email [email protected] to learn more about producing Public Service Announcements.