Public Service Announcements (PSAs), What Are They and How Can You Use Them?
Public service announcements (PSAs) are a valuable and often overlooked strategy for reaching customers and raising brand awareness. They usually have the look and feel and traditional advertisements but unlike regular advertisements, their purpose is to highlight the importance of a problem or issue, convey information, or promote a behavioural change within a society.
They are often thought to be exclusively used by non-profit and non-government organisations (NGO’s) to promote their message, but that is no longer the case. Commercial, for-profit organisations have harnessed the power of PSAs and now use them to promote their Corporate Responsibility (CR) initiatives and enhance their messaging.
Often produced in partnership with other organisations that promote the same causes, PSA’s are a cost-effective way of generating awareness.
So what are the most important elements of a successful PSA?
High quality PSA’s are short, present an important and relevant topic and are visually compelling.
Here are 3 factors to take into account when thinking about creating a PSA:
1. Clear Messaging
PSAs should have a clear message that focuses on ONE specific cause or issue. More than one idea confuses your audience. The call to action is crucial for a PSA and again should be simple and emotive.
Talk about what you know. For your PSA to resonate with your audience and deliver the desired outcome, you need to ensure that it is both convincing and accurate. It’s essential to do research on the latest trends and talking points surrounding your issue to present up to date and correct facts and statistics.
Many PSAs deal with issues that people are already aware of, but the key to getting your message heard is providing thought provoking content that appeals to people on an individual level. Instead of only raising awareness of an issue, provide them with an achievable solution that will inspire action and change deep rooted attitudes and behaviour.
One example are the PSA’s we produced for Think Pink Bahrain that contain messaging designed to provide information that is intrinsically useful to their audiences.
2. Clear Target Audience
Once you’ve identified your messaging and topic, you now need to package it in a way that is relevant to your target audience. Communicating to teenagers or young adults about physical abuse will take a different approach to that for a PSA targeted at an audience in their 40s who is predominantly male.
It’s essential to choose appropriate words, phrases and music that related to your target audience and even consider things like the voice over tone and gender. If you are featuring on-camera talent how does this fit into the broader style of the PSA?
UN Women for the Arab States produced a series of PSAs aimed at violence and abuse against women, although the cause remains the same “stop abuse” the manner in which each PSA was produced differs from one audience to another.
Combining the appropriate elements will help your audience react positively to the announcement.
3. Focus on Emotion not fear
Scare tactics no longer work with today’s audience who are media savvy and exposed to hundreds of pieces of content per day. Make use of strong visuals to grab your audience’s attention. The most effective PSAs are the ones that combine sound, lighting and imagery to appeal to the viewers emotions. PSAs don’t necessarily need to be serious and melodramatic. Sometimes subtle visuals and analogies can go a long way in evoking emotions. Depending on your cause, you might think about introducing humour to your concept and script.
Although there is no one right recipe for the success of a PSA campaign, these are a few rules to keep in mind when deciding to use video PSAs as part of your awareness or CSR campaigns.
We would love to work with you on your next PSA and help you raise awareness on the topics that matter to you. Please contact us here