One of the immeasurable benefits of being a nonprofit organization is being granted the opportunity to have free media time.
Broadcast media, which includes radio and TV, is required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to serve “in the public interest.” So most TV and radio stations use Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to meet this FCC requirement. In fact, a bunch of these stations donate nearly a third of their commercial space to noncommercials like PSAs. Exciting, right?
Of course there are lots of regulations and guidelines for how you can utilize these media opportunities, which we highly recommend you review. But that’s not what this blog post is about. This blog post is about crafting your PSA. So let’s get started.
- Target Your Audience
Before you can start writing, you’ve got to decide who you’re writing to. Are you writing to attract potential donors or are you writing to invite the public to an event? Identifying your audience first is key to crafting your PSA because you want to reach the right people on an emotional level and motivate them to action.
- See What’s Available
You might want to partner with a branding agency to create a radio or TV spot, and if that’s the case, they can help you identify available broadcasting stations that will carry your PSA. More importantly, outside help can help you identify which outlets your target audience is most likely to prefer. Whether you’re doing it on your own or with the help of professionals, get a feel for the local broadcasting climate and figure out where your PSA fits in best.
- Know The Format
Most broadcasting stations offer unpaid commercial space at a variety of lengths. Some will give you only 15 seconds while others can do 30 or 60. You’ve got to know these restrictions before you can start writing so that your word count fits comfortably within the timeframe they’re giving you. If not, you will certainly have edits or reshoots on your hands.
- Include The Right Info
Your PSA can’t be just fun creative and entertainment. You’ve got to include real calls to action and contact information so that the audience can reach out to you if they want to know more. You’d be surprised how easy it is to overlook these things sometimes, but frankly it’s the only way to redirect people back to you.
Like we suggested before, work with professionals if you can. Branding agencies and marketing firms will have the talent and the resources to help you write and produce good, effective PSAs. More importantly, they have the strategy to know where to place the spots, and the staff to coordinate with the stations — giving you the placement you need. They can also help you make multiple PSAs so that you’re not saying the same thing over and over again. Instead you’re creating a whole messaging system.