Working with the Media: A Guide for Volunteer Organizations and Commissions

Public Service Announcements (PSAs)

A public service announcement (PSA) is a free radio or television message similar to a commercial. PSAs air during commercial time, usually in off-peak hours. Producing a PSA can be relatively simple for radio, but difficult for television. Both radio and television PSAs require written scripts, but television stations often require a fully produced videotape. Consultants are most often used to produce television PSAs. Contact the television and radio stations in advance to determine their requirements for a PSA submission.

PSAs should be simple and to the point, focusing on a single issue or event (“Support Altoona’s shade tree commission because…” or “Take part in Johnstown’s Stoney Creek volunteer restoration program because…”).

In general, the heading for a PSA script should include the organization’s full name and address, the name and telephone number of the contact person, start and stop dates for events, and the length of the script in seconds. Give radio stations a choice by providing 10- , 20- , 30- , and 60-second versions of your message.

Organizational Publications

You should use newsletters, brochures, flyers and program announcements, position papers, fact sheets, annual reports, and posters to publicize the good things your commission or organization is doing. Completing an annual report and providing it to elected officials and as a press release to the local media is very important. An annual report should provide information on accomplishments, funding and other resources, difficulties and concerns, plans for next year, and the resources those plans will require.

Personal Contact

Use planned and consistent personal contact with elected officials and municipal managers, speeches to service and other organizations, telephone contacts, correspondence and solicitation, testimonials, and displays at fairs and other events to promote understanding of and support for your organization.


Even though you pay for it, advertising guarantees that your message will be placed. Design your advertisements to motivate interested people to follow a course of action. You have control over the script, images, the days the ad will run, and the section of the paper it will be placed in or time of day it will be run. Commercials, print ads, billboards, transit placards, buttons, t-shirts, and bumper stickers are all advertisement opportunities.

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