PSA Poster


  • What is a public service announcement?
  • When should you consider using PSA's?
  • How do you write a PSA?
  • How do you produce a PSA?
  • How do you get your PSA on the air?
  • How can you tell if your PSA was effective?

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Generally, PSA's are sent as ready-to-air audio or video tapes, although radio stations (especially community or public stations, such as campus radio or National Public Radio affiliates) sometimes prefer a script that their announcers can read live on the air. They can be done very simply with a single actor reading or performing a message, or they can be elaborate, slickly-produced messages with music, dramatic story-lines, and sound or visual effects.

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Advantages of PSA's

  • PSA's are generally inexpensive. Since the airtime is donated, your only cost is production. If you keep to a tight budget, you can make PSA's very cheaply.
  • Most stations will allow you to include a telephone number for more information in your PSA.
  • PSA's tend to be really effective at encouraging the audience to do something -- for example, call a phone number for more information, use condoms, or have your pet spayed or neutered.
  • PSA's can raise awareness of your issue.

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Limitations of PSA's

  • Because PSA's depend on donated time, you'll often find you're not able to get them run on all the media outlets you'd like to, or you may find yourself at the mercy of station staff members who may be overworked, arbitrary, or personally opposed to your group's work. PSA's are often run as "filler" in the middle of the night or during other times when only a few people are listening or watching.
  • The competition among non-profit groups for free air time is very stiff -- depending on the market, there could be hundreds of other groups vying for time on any given station. You may not be able to count on getting a lot of air time for your PSA's.
  • Stations tend to shy away from "controversial" PSA's. If your group focuses on an issue that is the subject of heated public debate -- anti-abortion advocacy or gay rights, for example -- you may have a hard time convincing stations to run your PSA.
  • Stations may not track and report when your PSA's have been played, but they will do this for paid advertising.
  • PSA's do require a bit of work on your part, and they tend to be ineffective at influencing policy. Consider them more when you have a specific action you want the viewer or listener to take, or coordinate with other activities designed to influence people's behavior.
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    Here are some guidelines for deciding when you might want to incorporate PSA's into your media campaign. Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to meet all of these criteria -- this is just a list of times that PSA's may be a good idea for your group.

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    looking though the glass you can see the city

    how to use a compass

    No matter where you stand on Earth, you can hold a compass in your hand and it will point toward the North Pole. What an unbelievably neat and amazing thing! Imagine that you are in the middle of the ocean, and you are looking all around you in every direction and all you can see is water, and it is overcast so you cannot see the sun... How in the world would you know which way to go unless you had a compass to tell you which way is "up"? Long before GPS satellites and other high-tech navigational aids, the compass gave humans an easy and inexpensive way to orient themselves.