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How to Create a Public Service Announcement about Your Nonprofit

Many radio and television stations allot a portion of their airtime to broadcasting public service announcements (PSAs) on behalf of nonprofit causes. Although these stations rarely give away their best viewing and listening hours to this free service, sometimes they do tack PSAs onto the end of a newscast or special program during prime time. But even an announcement played during the morning’s wee hours can reach many people.

Public service announcements are brief. Most are 15, 30, or 60 seconds long. You may submit them as written text to be read by the stations’ announcers, or you may submit them recorded or filmed on a CD or DVD or as an e-mailed podcast for direct broadcast. Many stations are more willing to use PSAs that are already recorded or filmed, but this isn’t universally true.

If you submit a prerecorded PSA, also include a print version of the text. Some stations string several announcements together in a general public announcement broadcast, and it’s easier for them to work from text.

If you choose to submit a prerecorded PSA, make sure it’s of broadcast quality with excellent sound and/or images. If you’re the narrator, spit out your gum! If you mumble or if the images are blurry, stations can’t use it. Using the voice of a celebrity — even a local luminary — for your prerecorded PSA can be particularly effective.

The challenge to writing public service announcements is to clearly convey a lot of information in a short time. Write your message and test it against the clock. If you’re rushing to finish it in time, it’s probably too long. Ask someone else to read it back to you and time that person. You don’t want to be the only one who can finish it in 15 seconds.

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