RADIO AND TELEVISION PSAs (Public Service Announcements)

RADIO PSAs

  • Stations will air free PSAs for non-profits when there is a gap to fill in the station’s programming, but it is strictly voluntary on their part; send PSAs with plenty of lead time prior to the event.
  • PSAs that “benefit community” are the most important factor to local stations, since their ad revenue is based on audience size (ratings). PSAs help the station show their support for important local issues and get recognized for their support, so they are interested in the PSA if it relates to their audience.
  • Use a press release layout but reduce the info to one paragraph and start with a catchy headline. Prepare a complete script “ready to use.” (Don’t expect them to do your work for you.)
  • Your paragraph must include all vital information:  Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.  Include a sentence about your group and indicate a specific action the public can take.
  • You cannot mention ticket prices, but you can say “tickets are available.” You cannot mention the event is free, but you can say “the public is welcome.”  (FCC requirements)
  • Have a “For additional information” sentence to close. End with three number signs ###.
  • Target radio stations whose audiences will be interested in your news story and customize your PSA to each type of audience.
  • Read your PSA aloud before sending. It should be 30 seconds or less. Have others help you edit it, and make sure all information is correct and phone numbers or website URLs are functioning.
  • You can record your PSA for the Public Service Director to hear, but at minimum, provide a written “live announcer” script. The station may use this because they can “co-brand” the PSA with their station name, an extra incentive for them.
  • Send with an email saying why the issue or event is important to the local community. Also request airtime during the timeframe prior to the event.
  • You must follow up. Call immediately after you send your PSA to make sure it was received and to answer any questions. Be persistent but not a nuisance.
  • Develop a Relationship:  share your success stories from the PSA with them; send a thank you note to the management and PS Director when they use your PSA; over time, they may help in other ways with news stories or involvement in your outreach activities

TELEVISION PSAs

  • Use the guidelines for Radio PSAs above. And remember, you have no control over when your PSA airs, or if it airs. Typically, it will be during times when paid advertising is not available.
  • TV stations usually require several weeks of lead time for a PSA, so plan ahead.