Monday, August 22, 2011

Creativity Tips: How to Write a Public Service Announcement (PSA)

I was recently asked to write guidelines on How to Write a Public Service Announcement and it occurred to me that the info might be helpful to others. So, here you go! The tips are useful for all sorts of writing -- not just PSAs.

Write with your audience in mind.
Before you start writing, think about what your audience knows about the topic. Ask yourself: Why should the audience care about this? The answer will help you decide what to write.

Understand the reason for your PSA.
PSAs typically promote action. What action do you want the audience to take?

Start with a rough outline.
To write a good PSA, you need to know how you’re going to grab the listener’s attention at the start, what main point you want to make, and what the call for action is at the end. Sketch it out in a brief outline.

Use a format easy to read.
The standard PSA format is not the standard paragraph format. Set your left margin for 2 inches and double space the copy. It should look like this:
The standard PSA format is not the standard paragraph format. Set your left margin for 2 inches and double space the copy.

This format will make it easier for you to read the copy out loud. Your eyes don’t have to move all the way across the page and double-spacing makes it easier to see every word.

Talk directly to one person in your audience.
When you write for the ear rather than the eye, it’s important to speak directly to the person who is listening. Make it personal. Use the word “you” in the PSA. For example, “Do you drink milk? The calcium in milk helps you grow.”

Use the active voice.
PSAs sound better and are more effective when you use the active voice rather than the passive voice. Active voice uses active verbs – verbs that really do something! For example, “Make a smart decision. Exercise today!” The active voice delivers a much stronger message than this passive voice, “It is possible that exercising would be a smart decision.”

Keep your sentences short.
Short sentences are easier for you to read – they provide natural breaks for breathing. They are also easier for your audience to follow. If a sentence includes more than 10 words, look for ways to break it into two sentences. For example: “Does your sentence include more than 10 words? Break it into two sentences!”

Read it out loud.
See how it sounds. You will find things you need to change when you read it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this information. It definitely will come in handy.