1: Choose Your Topic and Decide on an Ask
The very first thing you should decide about your PSA campaign is what you’re trying to accomplish. This is what people refer to as an “ask.” After watching or reading your PSA, your audience should be inspired and knowledgeable enough to take action. Keep in mind as you are trying to create an effective PSA that it can be difficult to narrow down a poignant message that clearly captures the outcome you’re trying to achieve. Keep it simple—try not too clutter your ask with too many stipulations and instead focus on summarizing your goal into a single strong sentence.
2: Identify Your Audience
Knowing who your audience will be is an important component of crafting your ask. You want to be able to tailor the message to the specific abilities and resources available to the audience you’re targeting. If your PSA is more focused on public awareness of an issue, then your audience can be more general with an ask that focuses instead on shaping a helpful mindset.
3: Gather Information
An effective PSA should paint a well-rounded picture of the scope of the problem or agenda you’re trying to put in place. During your information-gathering process, you should look for relevant statistics, facts, anecdotes, and personal stories (depending on your topic) to highlight the importance of what you are trying to do. This will serve as the heart of your PSA campaign and help you write the narrative of what you’ll be sharing.
4: Use Your Media Authentically
The core idea of a PSA is that it generates change and the only way it can do that is by gaining visibility and inspiring people to action. While you are crafting your PSA, use your media platform (i.e. video, radio show, sharable image) in a way that grabs people’s attention and creates an emotional incentive for them to follow through with your ask.
Some key things you should try to avoid in your PSAs are:
- Melodramatic representations of your issue— Entrenching your PSA with over-the-top dramatizations can distract from your ask and even make your message seem inauthentic. Other compelling ways to engage your audience might instead include, slogans, imagery, real stories, or possibly even skilled media editing.
- Including unnecessary information — Your PSA should be concise while still offering a sincere call to action. It’s critical that the stories, testimonies, and facts that you feature in your PSA contribute meaningfully to the message you’re trying to convey and are not loaded too heavily with unrelated details.
5: Create Your Script
Making sure that your team is on track with the same vision can be challenging to achieve without a script to detail your content. Be considerate of the proposed length (or size) of your PSA when drafting and try stick to the ideas of WHO is being affected, WHY they are being affected, and WHAT the audience can do about it.
When you’re engaging a young adult to share their story, suggest they create bullet points of what they are going to say instead of writing something they will read. By having the youth focusing more on the central ideas that they are going to speak on rather than the words, their voice will sound less scripted and their story more authentic.
6: Editing and Story Boarding
Before you begin filming, you should have a rough idea of what visual shots you’re hoping to catch with your camera. You might want to consider creating a storyboard to detail the angle and content you’re hoping to capture. This will help you avoid unnecessary or redundant filming and hopefully cut down on your editing time.