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Public Service Announcement

Tulika Nair
A PSA or a Public Service Announcement is one of the types of advertisements that can be a print ad, a television commercial, or a radio advertisement, and which is produced to change the opinion of the masses about a certain specific issue.
People who produce PSAs try to make commercials that will charge people to do something for the cause at hand. PSAs can be as simplistic as you want with a person speaking to you or dramatic productions with great concepts.
Most PSAs tend to be cheap since airtime of channels is generally given for free and the only cost that needs to be incurred is the money that is spent on producing the advertisement in question.
But this can often backfire as you will not have the freedom to run it on any and every outlet that you have access to. Also many media organizations tend to use PSAs as fillers when other television programs are on.
The first ever advertisements about public issues were released to the public much before advertisements on commercial products became popular. But what we know as the PSA today was actually developed only some time after the Second World War, when it started using advertising to influence people into joining the army.
After the war, there were PSAs that were produced to spread awareness about blood donation, safety on the highway, and forest fires. With the focus on social problems growing, there were more advertisements that were produced to influence people to do more about these problems.
Today PSAs are generally more common on television and radio but print ads are not uncommon. This is known as one of the most effective advertising techniques to raise awareness.

Making a PSA

Writing a PSA is not as easy as it may seem. You need to be creative while understanding that the message needs to be sent out in extremely precise terms, especially because most PSAs have to be really short. How do you determine whether you need to make a PSA?
Well first and foremost, it is important that your organization be a non profit organization that is seeking to spread the word about a specific cause.
Your PSA should be such that it should urge the listener or the viewer to do something. It should be able to influence and motivate people to change their behavior in a certain manner. The issue that you are working for should be such that it is easy to understand.
While writing a PSA, keep the following tips in mind.
  • Before you create a concept for the advertisement or announcement, you need to understand whom you are making it for. Without a proper target audience in mind, it is impossible to create a PSA that will make the right connect.
  • Always remember that the aim of your PSA need not always be to shock or even surprise. You need to understand that the message that you are putting forward is easily understood. This is the reason why the language or visuals used need to be simple while being vivid. Make every single feature used in the PSA count for something.
  • It is important to know what will hook the audience and what will grab their attentions. This definitely does not mean that you scare the audience but it should shake them up.
  • Your PSA needs to demand for a specific action. For example you can ask them to call a toll free number to support the cause or to get more information. If you do not do this, then chances are that the viewer will forget about the PSA after a while and it will all be for no reason.
  • One of the best things that you can use in any PSA are emotions. The more emotional a PSA, the more the chances that your audience will be moved by it and react in a positive manner.
  • It is important that you always make a mention of the organization when you make a PSA. Without any mention of an affiliate organization, your audience will not know whom to turn to.
These are just some of the key pointers to keep in mind while making a PSA. At the end of the day, you need to remember that the announcement is being made to draw attention to a specific cause and people need to be moved by your advertisement to do something that will bring about a change.