What is a PSA?

A PSA (Public Service Announcement) is a short informational clip that is meant to raise the audience’s awareness about an important issue.

What makes a PSA effective?

There are many different stylistic approaches you can take when making a PSA. Decide which one is the most appropriate and effective for the message that you’re trying to get across.

  • It gets the audience to pay attention.
  • The message is clear and easy to understand
  • The message is supported by facts about the issue.
  • The audience is able to sympathize with those affected by the issue.

General Components to Include in a PSA

Video Footage

You can find some Creative Commons video or film some of your own footage.

Images/Photos

You can find Creative Commons photos via the Free Media Library or take some photos yourself.

Music

You can find Creative Commons music via the Free Media Library.

Voiceovers/Narration

You can record a voiceover using the dual podcasting mics or the audio recording booths at University Park and select campuses.

Text

Provides additional information for the viewer that the announcer does not have time to say, or it can be a part of your style and tone. Do not make it too wordy, though, otherwise the audience will not have time to read it. Additionally, remember the “PowerPoint rule”–don’t read your on-screen text word-for-word in voiceovers, unless it’s a quote.

PSA Types

Announcement

This is perhaps what immediately comes to mind when one thinks of a “PSA.” Its usual components are a series of videos and images with a narrator or narrators delivering information to the audience either on-screen or through a voiceover. Sometimes text alone can be just as powerful and effective.

Voiceover Only
Text Only
One on-screen announcer
Multiple On-Screen Announcers

Possible additional components for this type of PSA:

Video footage of an announcer or announcers that you shot yourself. See our Video Production Tips for help shooting.

Documentary/Interviews

This method incorporates interviews into the PSA. This method is effective because the interviews provide either expert testimony or stories from people who have personal experience with your topic to support the argument that you are making. Sometimes the interviews can be accompanied by a voiceover, or other times your interview(s) alone can be very effective.

Possible additional components for this type of PSA:

Interviews. For information and tips on shooting interviews see our Interviewing tutorial.

Narrative

This style uses either a scene, montage (a collection of several short clips), or a re-enactment/footage of true events to illustrate the point that you are trying to make. This style can allow your PSA not only to be more creative, but also subtle, yet powerful.

Scene
Montage
Real Footage

Possible additional components for this type of PSA:

Video footage that you shot yourself. See our Video Production Tips for help with shooting.

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