Excerpted from the June 2019 Non-Profit Communications Report

PSAs can be great marketing tools for nonprofits – if they air. “The biggest hurdle is competition for scarce airtime,” says Bill Goodwill, of Goodwill Communications,Inc. (Lorton, VA). ”In a survey among U.S. TV stations, nearly 40 percent of respondents indicated they get from eight to 30 PSAs per week. The situation is made worse by the fact that some TV stations run up to 15 paid commercials per break, leaving almost no time for PSAs.”

As if competing for air time isn’t difficult enough, Goodwill says production quality, rigorous broadcast requirements, promotion and relevance are additional challenges nonprofits face when trying to get a PSA to air on TV or radio. However, he recommends six strategies to increase the likelihood of getting your nonprofit’s PSA used:

  1. Demand quality. “Stations are not going to air PSAs that are not well-produced,” Goodwill says. Make sure all creative aspects of the PSA – from the writing to lighting – look professional.
  2. Adhere to media requirements. This includes everything from producing an exactlytimed PSA in a high-definition format, to making sure there is a kill date, an Ad-ID code, along with bars, slate and tone on the front end of the TV PSA. (Goodwill Communications details a variety of requirements in its PSA Producer’s Guide available at www. psaresearch.com/images/PRODUCER’1/.,20GUIDE. pdf.)
  3. Distribute digitally. Gone are the days of delivering hard-copy PSA packages directly to the PSA gatekeeper. Although some radio stations still accept CDs, digital distribution is a must for TV. While Goodwill Communications developed its own digital download platform called PSA Digital, they also use other digital distribution platforms, including Extreme Reach (www. extremereach.com) and the National Association of Broadcasters’ SpotCenter (psa.nab.org). When preparing your digital PSA plan, make sure to include traffic instructions, since the PSA director may not be the one downloading the digital files.
  4. Promote, promote, promote. “If stations don’t know where to download your PSAs, then they obviously cannot air them,” Goodwill says. He suggests blast e-mails, alert postcards and storyboards posted to the digital download site.
  5. Make it relevant. TV and radio stations are interested in PSAs that are important to their viewers and listeners.
  6. Hire a professional PSA producer and distributor. These individuals know the ins and outs of production and distribution, specific to PSAs. Additionally, a distributor can provide you with data to show the impact of your campaign, something that’s difficult for nonprofits to do without assistance.

Bill Goodwill is the founder of Goodwill Communications, Inc., a firm that distributes, promotes and evaluates national public service advertising campaigns for nonprofits and federal agencies.