Public Service Announcements

PSAs are short “stories” that ideally announce to or inform the community about an issue or event. Radio and television outlets use these announcements to satisfy Federal Communications Commission (FCC) community services requirements.

PSAs must be very concise in order to convey important information in only 10 to 30 seconds. Most of them range from 15, 20 to 30 seconds. This usually includes the announcer’s part at the end where he says: This message has been brought to you by the (association name) and (station name).

Creativity helps the message, but foremost is making sure it gives all of the NECESSARY information.

It should also include a contact name, date of release, dates to start and stop airing, the run time (length), and title (see samples).

Also make sure to read and time your copy until it fits perfectly into the chosen time period. Basic time are 10, 20 30 and 60 second spots. Remember, the shorter the time the easier they will be to get on the air. You probably should not go past 30 seconds.

A general rule of thumb is 60 sec. – 150 words, 30 sec. – 75 words, 20 sec. – 50 words and 10 sec. –25 words.

How to Write a PSA Script

Capture the attention of your audience by making the ad relevant to them at the beginning of the announcement. Ask questions or make brief points that will help the audience identify with the cause of your organization or event. For example, "Have you ever known anyone who has been the victim of a drunk driving accident? A friend, a relative, an old high school acquaintance?"

List the essential information listeners or viewers need to know. Think about who should attend or get involved, what it's about, where it's happening or where the business is located, when and why. Give directions or a point of reference for an event location. For example, "located next to Wal-Mart on the strip."

Use emotion to encourage the audience to get involved. Choose words that describe how the audience, or those benefiting from the charitable event, will feel as a result of their participation. For example, "Your decision to quit smoking won't only leave you feeling free and in control, but your family will benefit from having you in their lives for many more years."

Call the audience to action. Do you want them to make a monetary contribution, attend an event or volunteer their time? Maybe you want the audience to quit smoking or teach their children to look both ways before crossing the street. Make it clear what you expect the audience to do after listening to your message.

Include contact information, such as a name and phone number, or a website address where people can get more information. Repeat information that's difficult to remember, such as the phone number or website address.

Read your script out loud and have someone time you. Some stations air only 10-second public service announcements, while others will air 30- or 60-second messages. Adjust your script accordingly.