Boom-in-the-Room: PSAs

Find out about Public Service Announcements in this Boom-in-the-Room blog: the why, the when and the how. Public Service Announcements, otherwise referred to as PSAs, run during advertising time or space on television, radio and on the Internet - at no cost to you or your client. The time is essentially donated by the media outlet as a goodwill community service.  There is no other broadcast tactic or even ad buy that can deliver the reach or ROI of a successful PSA placement campaign.

Having said that, there are very specific requirements that will determine if a PSA is an option for your campaign:


  • Campaign must involve a legitimate non-profit organization.
  • Your message must serve the public.
  • The PSA should not include any mention or referral to a commercial sponsor.
  • Provide multiple lengths and formats in order to cater to different station preferences
  • Consider a spokesperson that is truly passionate or involved in this cause or message.
  • Provide a clear call to action
  • Do not make an overt plea for donations in your PSA.

You can only offer a PSA to stations if you are a non-profit or partnered with a non-profit – for example, an advocacy relationship that a pharmaceutical might enter into to raise awareness about women and heart disease. Usually a relationship like that is the result of an unrestricted educational grant.  The PSA comes from the non-profit organization and the non-profit is requesting air time for their awareness message.  That’s your next requirement: your message must serve the public: it must educate or inform.

Regardless of the corporate entity involved, your PSA is not likely to make air if it mentions a for-profit corporate entity.  Discuss how your PSA can and does often meet a corporate communications objectives with Boom. We can provide some great examples.

A few other tips to make your PSA a success: produce and provide stations with multiple lengths of your spot. For example, if you only provide a 15 second spot, and the station has an available time slot that is 30 seconds, you’ll miss out.  Also, in this digital age, make sure you are offering digital formats as well as the old standby: tapes or DVDs.

When considering a spokesperson, make sure they have a tie to this cause or message. Public Affairs Directors quickly see through celebrity for celebrity’s sake.  Finally, consider a simple and memorable call to action: a logical or catchy web address can result in more activity. If it’s very complicated to find or get more information on your topic, you may sacrifice follow through on your campaign.

Bottom line? With the right elements, a Public Service Announcement can generate millions of impressions and hundreds of thousands of dollars in equivalent ad dollar value for your campaign.

Most importantly, a PSA can lead to action and change.