What Makes a Successful PSA Campaign?
Author: Dr. Jack Jorgens, Accent Media, McLean, VA
People remember a dramatic or entertaining spot which is beautifully produced.
This does not mean that high budget PSAs are always the most effective.
Simplicity sometimes works best. But the intelligence, sensitivity, and
imagination reflected in that 30 or 60 seconds does much to influence the
public perception of the sponsoring organization, and the importance of the issue.
Use different arguments, characters, tones, and bits of information,
and allow programmers to rotate spots so that they do not become
annoying to viewers. The most successful campaigns approach
different parts of you, hit you in several different ways.
TV, radio, websites, brochures, pamphlets, comic books, signage,
posters, refrigerator magnets, tee shirts, etc. reinforce each other
in a campaign. Words, images, statistics, testimonials, that appeal to
self-interest, the public good, your family and friends are most effective.
Messagaes designed to change the most deeply seated prejudices, habits, and beliefs
take time. Sudden massive behavior changes are very rare.
Research indicates that the more often the audience hears or sees the
message, the more likely they are to get it, and campaign planners
should use a wide variety of media to deliver the message, since
they all have different strengths and weaknesses.
Hispanics are becoming the largest minority, and prefer to be addressed in
their native language. Every ethnic culture has its unique range of
values, prejudices, interests, filters. If your budget does not permit
doing production in both English and Spanish, at a minimum be inclusive
in your packaging or promotional efforts.
Multi-lingual/ Multicultural Approach
Media gatekeepers are more likely to air material which gets their attention,
presents the messages in words and images, and persuades them to sit down
and listen to or view your PSA. Use a powerful design, and if possible, integrate
the messages of the campaign into it.
Newsletters, blast emails and post card notifications will help get some usage.
Add an articulate and persuasive phone call and you will get more. Add a call from
a powerful local community representative noting the importance of the PSA to the
local community, and you will do even better.
It is good to have the numbers telling you when PSAs were used, how many, where and
their value. But qualitative assessments are very valuable too - things such as
how many people took the call to action in your campaign are equally as important.