Your non-profit exists to help people, and a public service announcement is one way to do that. But creating a PSA for your non-profit can feel like an overwhelming task. It has to be both eye-catching and informative. Changing minds and influencing behavior is a big ask for a 30 or 60-second video, but some insights from the video marketing world can help.
Why Make a PSA Video?
A PSA is different from a standard commercial promoting your organization and its mission. Designed to serve the public good, PSAs share information about pressing social, safety, or public health concerns. Traditionally shown on Television, these announcements now appear on YouTube, OTT video, and social media as well. While some use celebrity faces and voices to capture attention, you can create compelling PSAs without star power.
PSAs share your message with people who may fall outside your regular audience or donor base. They can come in video, audio-only, or still image formats. For this post, we’re going to focus mostly on video PSAs because we believe in the power of video to impact thinking and inspire action.
Step 1: Put on Your Marketing Hat
Secretly, a PSA is a marketing video. You may protest that you’re not trying to sell a product or service. That may be true, but you are still selling something—an idea. Instead of asking viewers to buy, you’re asking them to buy-in. You want them to accept a new idea or take action.
Just like a marketing video, your PSA should have a clear message and value proposition. It should include a call to action that tells viewers what you want them to do next. Of course, it should also be short and engaging, so people remember your message.
Step 2: Clarify Your Core Message
You make a PSA because you have important information to share. Stating it simply makes it easy to grasp. Even if your message is about a complex topic, like vaccinations or human trafficking, you need to be able to summarize it simply.
Ideally, you should be able to state your message in a single sentence. For example:
- Hand washing can reduce the spread of infection.
- Don’t text and drive.
- Addiction is a disease that you can treat.
If you have more than one core message, consider making multiple PSAs. You can only serve the public if they’re paying attention. Too many messages, complicated explanations, or in-depth details can cause them to tune out. Remember that your goal is not to make viewers experts on the topic, you just want to raise awareness or incite action. A well-defined message makes the next step easier.
Step 3: Find Your Value Proposition
Convincing people to change their habits or ideas isn’t easy. We all tend to stick to what we know. Many people can even get angry or defensive when their ideas are challenged. You can overcome this tendency by offering them something of value in return. That doesn’t mean you send every viewer a free tote bag. Instead, help them draw the connection between your message and something they want.
- Message: Hand washing can reduce the spread of infection. Value Proposition: Keep yourself and your family healthy.
- Message: Don’t text and drive. Value Proposition: Stay alive and avoid an expensive accident.
- Message: Addiction is a disease that you can treat. Value Proposition: Get help and support for yourself or a loved one.
In short, your value proposition should answer the question: What do I gain by doing or believing this?
Step 4: Know Your Audience
Steps three and four affect each other so deeply that it’s hard to say which one should come first. When you know your audience, you know what value propositions are most likely to appeal to them.
Take the text and drive PSA for example. If your audience is adults in their 30’s and 40’s, you might point out that putting your phone away helps protect your child in the backseat. If you’re delivering the same core message to a teenager, you might talk about how texting and driving could result in having your license taken away, or worse, your parents getting mad at you.
Knowing your audience also helps you decide on the format and style of your PSA. A texting and driving PSA aimed at adults might use a dramatic live-action scenario that involves a serious voiceover and intense music. The teen-focused one might include a catchy song and cheerful, smiling characters. It all depends on what’s most likely to engage your audience.
Step 5: Make a PSA script
Remember to keep your script short and focused. Whether you include animated characters, voiceover, music, special effects, dialogue, or a celebrity spokesperson, every element should convey your core message.
Sharing PSAs on the internet means you’re not restricted by 30 or 60-minute TV commercial slots. But you should still aim for under 120 seconds. Research shows that the ideal length for a marketing video is between 30 and 120 seconds for most platforms. Attention spans tend to drop off after the two-minute point. Besides, anything that takes more than a minute or two to say probably isn’t an announcement anymore.
If you have a clear message and know your value proposition, you should have no problem conveying them in two minutes or less.
Step 6: Produce your PSA
Now you’re ready to make your PSA video. A professionally produced video can make sure viewers focus on your core message, not on your production value. Our video creation experts are ready to help you make a PSA that works. We can even help you craft a script, identify your audience, or clarify your core message. Just ask. Oh, and here’s a PSA we produced for Georgia 811.