Developing Pro-Bono PSA Campaigns - Guidelines For Clients
Before You Begin
1. Ask to see the portfolio of the creative group you will be working
Look carefully for similar projects to the work you're asking for. If
you don't like what you see,
or sense these people work in a style that's
not appropriate for your organization, keep looking.
2. Contact references of other non-profits your creative group has
Find out whether your creative group has handled pro-bono projects before.
If so, were they
responsive to client input? Did they stay on top of deadlines
and budgets? Were they concerned about
the effectiveness of their work?
3. Develop a creative brief that outlines your assignment.
If your creative group doesn't have a "start work" or creative
input form, create
one yourself. It should cover the following points,
ideally in a single page:
- What precisely are you asking to have done?
- Who the audience is for the project; include demographic and lifestyle
- What specific action are you asking of your audience (Buy a ticket?
Change an opinion?
Call for more information? Make a contribution?)
- What is the best strategy to get them to take that action? Focus on
the one, primary reason
why people should take action--don't ask the creative
to try to cover too much.
- What are the budget and timing issues?
- What are the mandatories (logos, credits, legalisms) that must be included?
- What should the tonality of the work be?
After you've prepared your creative brief, have it signed off by every
person in your
organization that will later have an opportunity to accept
or reject the creative work.
During the Creative Stage
4. Be prepared to give your creative group more time than you would
allow if paying
for their services.
Obviously, pro-bono work gets less of an agency or design firm's attention
the bills must necessarily come first. So, give ample lead
time when assigning projects, and
build in extra time for the inevitable
5. Line up as many of the pro-bono production services as you can
Agencies and design firms are often glad to help you secure low-cost
or no-cost production
assistance from printers, film production companies,
photographers and illustrators, but
they often have a limited number of
favors they can call in. If at all possible, use the
resources of your
organization to seek these in-kind donations.
6. Be willing to sacrifice service for quality creativity.
Since this is not the typical client/vendor relationship, you should
some extra steps to minimize the time your creative group
spends on non-creative activities.
If possible, meetings should be held
at the creatives' place of business, take over the
preparation and distribution
meeting notes, and keep the number and length of meetings to
During the Approval Process
7. Have everyone who can say "no" present when the
work is presented.
It is more efficient, and certainly more courteous, to allow your creative
contributors to present to everyone in your organization who can ultimately
the proposed work. This way, the creative team can present and
defend their work more
passionately than you could.
8. Be clear and specific if you have objections.
If there are parts of the solution that aren't on target, speak up.
This is far
preferable to letting the project progress and then raising
your objection later after
more effort has been invested. It's also important
to distinguish between your personal
dislikes and those parts of the job
that might make it less successful. Your creative
contributors are (rightly)
concerned with making the project work against the target
which you may or may not be a member.
9. If you have an
unresolvable dispute over the creative proposal,
bring in an arbitrator.
One of the unwritten rules of pro bono work is that the client must
flexible when it comes to approving the creative work. Still,
there will inevitably
be times when you feel the work is not acceptable.
If this is the case, and your
creatives don't agree, bring in a third party
to help resolve the issue.
Advertising and design educators, freelancers,
or creative directors from other
firms could be called in.
10. If you ultimately do not accept the creative proposal, give your
the chance to start over.
While your confidence in your creative contributors
may not be at its
highest after rejecting their first proposal, you owe them the chance
take another shot before turning to another creative resource.
After The Project is Completed
11. Be generous in giving credit and recognition to your creative
At the conclusion of a successful pro bono project, your organization
received work worth thousands of dollars. It's highly appropriate
to acknowledge these
contributions through personal thank you letters,
mentions in organization newsletters,
and even appropriately small gifts.
This isn't just a matter of courtesy, this display
of gratitude will also
make it easier for you to secure additional help when you need
it in the
12. Assist your creatives in using the work for their own self-promotion.
If it's appropriate, encourage them to put a credit line somewhere on
Make sure they have sufficient reprints for their promotional
use. And be willing to
assist them in public relations efforts by being
accessible to the press for quotes
Public service advertising and design should be a win-win experience.
client gets professional design and creative services for
little to no cost. Meanwhile,
the creators get an opportunity to build
their portfolio or win industry awards by working
in an environment free
from many of the usual restrictions that come with "for pay"
Regrettably, many well-intentioned projects have left bitter tastes
in the mouths of
creatives and clients alike. In the vast majority of these
cases, the problems could
have been prevented if only there had been a
clear understanding up front of each party's
responsibilities and roles.
That, in short, is the purpose of these guidelines: spell out for
all concerned how
they should approach pro-bono work, to make the process
a smooth one, and the results,
These Guidelines and Web Site Provided as a Public Service By Wrap, The School of
Visual Concepts and the AIGA, Seattle Chapter.