8th Grade Writing/SS 23 March 2011 Mr. Russell/Mr. Buzzelli Public Service Announcements
What public service announcements can you remember? What formats were these in? How were did they influence your thoughts and opinions about the subject? Thoughts???
Not necessarily! Some public service announcements express a strong opinion, or try to encourage people to change their mind about an idea (e.g. messages about government policy). Other announcements try to raise awareness (such as environmental issues), raise money for a charity (e.g. Red Cross) or encourage better health (e.g. healthy eating, stopping smoking or texting and driving). Are they Controversial?
How can you tell if your PSA was effective? "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?" "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." “If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with tardive dyskinesia, call our law offices right now." "You could learn a lot from a dummy."
Effective? How many of these phrases ring a bell? These widely recognized slogans from national public service announcement campaigns by the Ad Council have become a part of our culture. While the above examples were all big-budget campaigns, your own organization's public service announcements (also known as PSA's) -- even if they're a small, locally-produced campaign -- can be a great inexpensive way to get your message out to the public.
Public service announcements, or PSA's, are short messages produced on film, video, or audiocassette and given to radio and television stations. 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 productions with music, dramatic storylines, and sound or visual effects. Broadcast media -- radio and television -- are required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to serve "in the public interest." Most stations use PSA's as one of the ways they meet this requirement. While they aren't required to donate a fixed percentage of air time per day to PSA's, stations do have to state in their licensing and renewal applications how much air time they plan to devote to PSA's. Most stations donate about a third of their commercial spots to non-commercial causes; in other words, if a station has 18 minutes of commercials in a given hour, six minutes of that will probably be devoted to PSA's. What is a PSA?
Advertisements or commercials inform the public about products they can buy (like cars, shoes or fireplaces) or services they can pay for (like lawyers, music concerts or cinemas). Public service announcements (PSAs) instead inform the public about a message or an idea. Some of the most famous PSAs that might be familiar to you involve campaigns encouraging people to stop smoking, or to vote for a certain political party, or the NFL Play 60 campaign. Public service announcements can be effective because they use traditional advertising techniques in a familiar format. What is a PSA?
- Decide upon and clarify the purpose of your PSA. What are your goals here? What do you want to accomplish by putting a PSA on the air? And for that matter, why are you wanting to use a PSA instead of other publicity outlets? - Target your audience. What type of people are you hoping to reach through your PSA? This will help you focus on both your desired media outlets, and also upon your PSA content. How do you write a PSA?
Because you've only got a few seconds to reach your audience (often 30 seconds or less), the language should be simple and vivid. Take your time and make every word count. Make your message crystal clear. • The content of the writing should have the right "hooks" -- words or phrases that grab attention -- to attract your audience (again, you need to know who your audience is). For example, starting your PSA off with something like, "If you're between the ages of 25 and 44, you're more likely to die from diabetes than from any other disease." • The PSA should usually (though maybe not 100% of the time) request a specific action, such as calling a specific number to get more information. You ordinarily want listeners to do something as a result of having heard the PSA. Key Points
1. Choose points to focus on. Don't overload the viewer or listener with too many different messages. List all the possible messages you'd like to get into the public mind, and then decide on the one or two most vital points. For example, if your group educates people about asthma, you might narrow it down to a simple focus point like, "If you have asthma, you shouldn't smoke." 2. Brainstorm. This is also a good time to look at the PSA's that others have done for ideas. Get together with your group members to toss around ideas about ways you can illustrate the main point(s) you've chosen. If possible, include members of your target group in this process. 3. Check your facts. It's extremely important for your PSA to be accurate. Any facts should be checked and verified before sending the PSA in. Is the information up to date? If there are any demonstrations included in the PSA, are they done clearly and correctly? 4. Identify a "hook". A hook is whatever you use to grab the listener or viewer's attention. How are you going to keep them from changing the channel or leaving the room or letting their attention drift when your PSA comes on? A hook can be something funny, it can be catchy music, it can be a shocking statistic, it can be an emotional appeal -- whatever makes the listener or viewer interested enough to watch or listen to the rest of your PSA. For example, if you were aiming for Hispanic listeners, your hook might be to have your PSA use Tejano or salsa background music. Get Ready to Write
Public Service Announcements started during World War II after the United States entered on the side of the Allies. The purpose of these original PSAs was to encourage support for the US home front war effort. Radio stations and advertising agencies provided free services towards this effort. Various methods were used to produce and convey PSAs; posters, speeches, cartoons and, radio advertising. In groups of three you will create a poster and video PSA for one of the following home front topics. Throughout your PSA you must create awareness of your topic, show why it is important, convey facts and information, and finally promote a new behavior. History
Conserve/Salvage: Gas and Rubber • Conserve/Salvage: scrap metal • Conserve/Salvage: Food Items (sugar, butter, meat and wheat) • Victory Gardens • Carpool • Remembering Pearl Harbor • Women in the work force • Joining the Military • War Bonds • Four Freedoms • Ration Books Topics