A PSA on how to write a public service announcement

A PSA on how to write a public service announcement

We all remember the famous ones — Smokey the Bear, the crying Indian, “This is your brain on drugs.” These public service announcements may have stiffened our resolve to “Just Say No,” or motivated us to pick up our trash, or caused us to be more careful with our campfires.

But every PSA need not be iconic — or televised. Many radio stations rely on public service announcements to fill advertising breaks or communicate important messages to their audience.

Here are some tips for producing a radio PSA.

First, ensure that the message you’re communicating constitutes a legitimate public service. Radio PSA directors will quickly delete anything that amounts to an advertisement.

A PSA that encourages seniors to sign up for the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit during the once-a-year open-enrollment period will fly. One that pushes for seniors to explore a particular insurance plan, on the other hand, will prompt a call from a radio station’s ad-sales department in response.

Second, keep the script short. PSAs are generally 30 seconds or 1 minute long. That translates to 75-150 words or so.

Third, professionally record and mix the PSA. Radio producers are looking for PSAs they can plug into their rotation with minimal effort. A pro producer — and experienced voiceover artist — can make a script come to life and provide the sort of slick sound bite that radio stations everywhere will want to air.

Robby Schrum