A Public Service Announcement About Public Service Announcements
Been tasked to send out a video or radio spot to the public to raise awareness? Great. As you pour over all your paid advertising options, consider for a moment if you might have a Public Service Announcement (PSA) on your hands. After all, PSAs have the potential to maximize your message’s reach by receiving more airings than paid placements.
What is a Public Service Announcement?
A public service announcement is a message that raises awareness and promotes programs, activities, or services that serves community interests.
Because airings are provided by stations at free-of-charge, they are not guaranteed. Breaking news and paid ads take priority. Stations’ PSA coordinators receive numerous PSA requests, so competition for air time is fierce. To increase your PSA’s chance of selection for air time, it is important to follow stations’ PSA guidelines.
Public Service Announcement Guidelines
While each station has its own PSA standards, in general, there are similarities:
- Nonprofit status required. PSAs must be from bona fide governmental agencies or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) certified 501c3 nonprofit organizations. Most stations require PSAs be submitted with an IRS 501c3 determination letter.
- Public good. Stations look for PSAs that benefit their community. Be sure to include a letter with your PSAs explaining the importance and benefits of airing your message to the public.
- No controversial messages. PSAs cannot promote controversial issues, specific religions or political views.
- Limit logos. Most stations prohibit the inclusion of for-profit messages, sponsors or logos.
- Standard lengths. PSAs should conform to normal ad lengths. Air time availability can vary at any given time, it is best to offer stations different PSA lengths for use. At MultiVu, we commonly produce a :15, :30 and :60 versions of the PSA for our clients.
- About time. Here at MultiVu, we have seen airings occur as quickly as two weeks after a PSA’s release, but it normally takes longer for first broadcast airings to occur. Stations have provided the following timelines:
- Non-major election years. Stations would like to receive PSAs four to six weeks prior to a PSAs first potential airing.
- Presidential election years/major elections. We have all experienced being bombarded by campaign messages months in advance of election day. Elections have a direct impact on available air space. Stations recommend that PSAs be sent to them three months in advance during election years.
- Other busy times. Major events (Olympics, FIFA World Cup), television sweeps periods, back-to-school, open enrollment time and big holidays can also reduce the air time availability for PSAs.
- Campaign timeline. Does your PSA have an ideal “start date” and absolute “end date”? Help PSA coordinators schedule your PSA properly by mentioning the start and stop dates in your letter to the stations.
- Delivery methods. While it may not be shocking that stations are increasingly asking for PSAs to be send to them electronically, it may be surprising to you that Cision’s research team are still finding many stations asking for PSA hard copies. Just remember that your chosen delivery method will impact your turnaround time.
Need help determining if you should distribute your content as a PSA?
At MultiVu, we developed multiple PSA packages to accommodate different turnaround times and budget needs. Contact us at [email protected] for more information.
ABOUT THE EXPERT: Wendy Chung
A graduate of New York University's Communication Studies program, Wendy began her career in commercial production. With a blooming interest in media strategy, Wendy spent time at account services and marketing team before joining MultiVu in 2008. She currently oversees radio, television, out-of-home and PSA strategy and the execution of the team.
MultiVu, a Cision/PR Newswire division, produces and places compelling content strategically across multiple channels globally to deliver targeted results and drive desired engagement. Created in 2002 from network news veterans and media relations professionals, MultiVu has grown into a content creation and media strategy company, leading in the broadcast communications industry. More information can be found on www.multivu.com.