Public Service Announcements (PSAs) How They Work & How To Get Them

“This is your brain on drugs.”

“The more you know…”

“Only you can prevent forest fires.”

If those phrases sound familiar, it’s because they were the catch phrases for some of the most effective Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to air on American television.

A public service announcement is one way for your non-profit to assist people. A Public Service Announcement allows you to educate, inspire, and make a difference in the lives of your audience members by highlighting a topic that is important to your mission.

PSAs are intended to 1) raise public awareness of an issue or a problem and 2) encourage people to make a change or take action.

Creating a PSA for your non-profit is an opportunity that can be both rewarding and daunting. It’s crucial to target your audience and make an impact with an appealing and informative message.

What exactly is a Public Service Announcement (PSA)?

A public service announcement, or PSA, is a message that is broadcast to the general public in order to raise awareness about a specific issue.

Although most Public Service Announcements aim to inform their audience, a PSA can also inspire the public to take action or make a change. Here are a few examples of common public service announcement topics:

  • Health
  • Social Issues
  • Safety

A public service announcement is typically informative and educational but can also be inspiring and motivating. Celebrities and influencers are frequently used to help deliver PSAs so that the public is more aware of the message.

Clarify Your Non-Profit’s Message

You create a Public Service Announcement for your non-profit organization because you have information to share. It’s important to state your message simply so that it is easy to understand. Even if your message is about a complicated subject, such as vaccinations or human trafficking, you must be able to summarize it briefly.

You should be able to convey your message in a single sentence:

  • Hand washing can help prevent the spread of infection.
  • You should refrain from texting and driving.
  • Addiction is a disease that can be cured.

Consider creating multiple PSAs if you have more than one core message. You can only serve the general public if they pay attention. They may tune out if there are complicated explanations or in-depth details.

Remember that your goal is not to turn viewers into experts on the subject; instead, you want to raise awareness or incite action. A well-defined message simplifies the next step.

What makes a public service announcement effective?

When creating a PSA, you can take a variety of stylistic approaches. Choose the most appropriate and effective for the message you want to convey. Some factors to consider:

  • Does it capture the audience’s attention?
  • Is the message straightforward?
  • Are there relevant facts to support the message?
  • Can the audience empathize with those who are affected by the problem?

How to get your PSA Aired

PSAs can be practical marketing tools for non-profits. Still, there are challenges – production quality, stringent broadcast requirements, promotion, and relevance – when attempting to get a PSA to air on TV or radio. There are six strategies for increasing the likelihood of your non-profit’s PSA being used:

  • Follow media guidelines.

This includes everything from producing an exact timed PSA in high-definition format to ensuring a kill date, an Ad-ID code, and bars, slate, and tone on the front end of the TV PSA. While this may appear very technical, your ad agency or producer should know all station requirements to get on the air.

  • Quality is King

Stations will not air poorly produced PSAs, so ensure that all creative aspects of the PSA, from the writing to the lighting, look professional. Avoid dull creativity, also known as “talking heads,” and instead take a more compelling approach.

  • Distribute online.

The days of delivering hard-copy PSA packages directly to the PSA gatekeeper are long gone. While some radio stations still accept CDs, digital distribution is required for television. We use three download platforms to get digital files to TV and radio stations: PSA Digital, Extreme Reach, and the National Association of Broadcasters.

  • Make it pertinent.

 PSAs that are important to their viewers and listeners are of interest to TV and radio stations. PSAs about health, safety, and education are all popular with the media.


What makes PSAs so effective?

  • They benefit each other

 Federal government agencies, businesses, organizations, and institutions can raise awareness about their cause while highlighting their mission. Every public service announcement should include a prominent call to action.

 After an organization specifies the action it wants the audience to take, it should provide resources and demonstrate how people can get involved and make a difference.

  • They target the audience.

There is no such thing as a universal message that fits everything. Powerful PSAs are directed at their intended audience rather than the company’s business agenda.

Organizations can now segment their audiences and tailor messages to those groups more effectively than ever. Messages must be relevant, and one way to ensure this is to involve people who fit the audience’s description in creating the PSA.

  • They are goal-oriented.

 PSAs are intended to raise awareness, but their primary goal is to elicit change. Instead of emphasizing the problem, they provide ways for people to get involved and make a difference.

  • They can be inexpensive or even free!

Many non-profit organizations that create PSAs operate on a shoestring budget. While writing, production, and research can all have associated costs, PSAs provide a great opportunity to create content at a low cost and present information online – or on broadcast media – for free.

Nuevo en US is proud to support the work of nonprofits that help those who are new to our community. Nuevo is especially grateful to Tampa philanthropist, Steve Cuculich, and his company Car Credit, for the generous funding that fuels our mission. Car Credit continues to assist the immigrant community. Click here to learn more