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Making a Public Service Announcement

What is a PSA?

A public service announcement, commonly known by the PSA acronym, is a message spread in the interest of the public. Their objectives are to bring about awareness about civic groups and more, and change public attitudes, opinions, or even actions towards an issue. These can be instructional, inspirational, or even shocking to elicit emotion and action. Their meanings can vary widely depending on the specific purpose. However, they generally aim to convey important information, discuss social issues, promote responsible behavior, inspire action, and contribute to positive changes in society.

They are powerful tools that effectively communicate important points. They provide students with an opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions, develop their creative skills, and make a positive impact in their communities. Whether you're looking for public service announcement ideas or PSA examples, there is no shortage of compelling topics to address. From promoting road safety among civic groups, to addressing mental health stigma, the range of PSA topics is vast. By utilizing a storyboard template and employing effective writing techniques, students can craft engaging and impactful messages that capture the audience's attention.

Types of Public Service Announcements

  1. Narrative: Engage viewers emotionally through storytelling techniques, creating a connection with the message.
  2. Animation: Use visuals, characters, and storytelling to communicate important creative ideas in an engaging way.
  3. Testimonial: Feature real people sharing personal stories or experiences to inspire action.
  4. Print Ads: In the form of print ads displayed in newspapers, magazines, billboards, and other print media to reach a broad audience.
  5. Social Media: Created specifically for online sharing on social media platforms, leveraging the reach and engagement potential of social media users. Public interest in PSAs is also different on social media, where users are more likely to engage with and share topics that resonate with their personal interests and values.
  6. Educational: Focus on informing and educating about specific issues or topics, often using clear explanations, visuals, and statistics.

Why Have Your Students Create a PSA?

Something created by a child can be a very powerful way to get others to hear essential facts about a certain issue. A PSA, meaning announcement that happens in a public space, may be the best format for conveying brief and attention-grabbing, simple and memorable messages quickly. Many campaigns have educated the public or contributed to social change. The number of people who smoke cigarettes has decreased dramatically since the 1960s, not only because of legal restrictions, but also because the general public as a whole has become more aware of the severe health risks. Consider the effects of famous characters on your own life such as Smokey the Bear or McGruff the Crime Dog and phrases rings like, "Only you can prevent forest fires", or “Don’t drink and drive.”

The most commonly used media are video on television and the internet, and audio during radio shows or podcasts, but there are many instances in print media. On Storyboard That, you can make a digital public service announcement school assignment or project that you can distribute via email, printed out, or projected during a presentation. You can even record and add audio!

How to Make a Public Service Announcement

They are for the benefit of the public, and usually contain information that you should take away. What do you want to say? Should you write a story or make a bold statement? Storyboard That offers storyboard templates for you to choose from. Here are a few steps on how to write your own storyboard.

1. Choose an Issue

Write about a topic or issue that would benefit the public. A vital topic may focus on social or environmental issues such as bullying, littering, or industrial pollution, but also might be on a smaller scale like “push in your chair” or “cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.” Think about what you want to get across and to whom you are directing it.

2. Hook Your Audience

Good topics will be noteworthy for at least one reason. Maybe it will grab attention because of its comedy, shock value, emotionality, or importance to the audience. Make phrases ring or resonate with your audience, and use the various character positions and expressions to demonstrate an array of emotions. Use eye-catching images in your storyboard cells from the Storyboard That library and Photos For Class, and try not to leave much empty white space. Use dialogue bubbles or other text boxes to explain your point. A very different, but effective, strategy is to limit the text to a single word or slogan, or to leave text out entirely.

3. Get Your Facts Straight

It is vital to research the topic as necessary. If you have incorrect information, your idea will quickly lose its credibility. Make sure the factual information that you present, such as statistics examples, is correct and relevant. Use a blend of figurative language, images, and jokes to prove a point, but be sure that you are not insinuating untrue things. Choose appropriate scenes, characters, and items that enhance your message.

4. Be Straightforward

Your project should be clear and concise. Get your point across without dawdling. If you choose to make a more thought-provoking point to your targeted audience, you still want them to understand after a moment of consideration, rather than spend time puzzling over the higher meaning.

How Can I Use PSAs in the Classroom?

  • Use storyboards as an introduction to a unit on persuasive writing. They usually do not have legitimate opposing stances, but many public service announcements want to persuade the audience in some way. Making a storyboard can help students think about their passions, important issues in our society, and convincing reasons to back up claims.

  • Make storyboards to understand and address contemporary issues in your school, town, country, or world. They can cover numerous serious topics like racism, sex trafficking, drunk driving, but also smaller concerns in modern day. Here at Storyboard That, we love seeing what the next generation is thinking and how they are going to tackle the problems they are actively inheriting.

  • Use storyboards as a means of planning for video assignments. PSAs are great templates for advertisements, and often occur alongside commercials on TV, on radio, or in print. Storyboarding is very useful when planning for the needs of filming: set, actors, props, etc. The Fridge and The Arrest storyboards above are two examples of storyboards that could be easily turned into a video.

  • You or your class can create posters and PSA infographics to hang in the classroom or in the halls of the school to start a movement, like encouraging recycling or reminding their peers about bullying or peer pressure. Often these types of public announcements have a clear statement and call to action, and are made with vibrant, eye-catching colors.

Example Activities

Compelling public service examples for students involves for instance making a campaign in their school to promote eco-friendly practices, demonstrating how young individuals can make a positive impact on the environment.

Follow-Up Discussion Questions

Showcase or present public service announcements samples and storyboards at various stations around the classroom. Discuss the effect of the various elements. Use some of these questions to guide the discussion.

  1. What message should you take away? Is it presented explicitly or implicitly?

  2. Who is the intended audience? Where would you post or present this public service announcement?

  3. Do you believe it? Do you understand why you should [follow the message]?

  4. Do you have an emotional reaction or a personal connection? What makes you feel that way?

  5. How else could you present the same point in a different way? (i.e. use comedy as opposed to emotional connection) Which approach is more effective?

Activity Ideas

  1. Digital Ideas Campaign: Task the class with designing a digital campaign using social media platforms. They can create engaging posts, videos, or images that highlight the issue, encourage discussion, and prompt action, aiming to create consciousness and reach a wide audience. In this case you might be wondering what does PSA mean on social media platforms? On social media, "PSA" stands for "Public Service Announcement." It's used informally by users, organizations, or influencers to share important information or advice about various topics. Unlike traditional PSAs, social media PSAs are user-generated, cover diverse subjects, leverage multimedia, encourage interactivity, and have the potential to go viral due to their shareability and targeting options.
  2. Poster Design: Ask students to design eye-catching posters that will talk about and explain a particular cause or issue. Provide them with information on effective design principles and direct them to incorporate persuasive language and visuals to capture the audience's attention. Some topic examples include taking a stand against bullying, diseases such as cancer, health organizations, and kids helping the environment.
  3. Podcast: Have students produce a PSA in the form of a podcast episode. They can research and discuss the issue, interview experts or individuals affected by the issue, and present solutions or actions that listeners can take, effectively bringing about consciousness and encouraging people to take action.
  4. Storyboard and Animation: Guide the class in making a storyboard and animating their PSAs using digital tools or even simple stop-motion techniques. This allows them to bring their messages to life, capturing the audience's attention and effectively conveying important information in an engaging format.

Social Issues Public Service Announcement Examples

The following activity suggestions present a curated selection of compelling examples that can be applied to illustrate the effectiveness of public service announcements in inspiring action, and making a positive impact on society.

  1. Cyberbullying: Discuss the lasting impact of cyberbullying and encourage kindness and respect online. Use real examples and personal stories to engage the audience and emphasize the importance of online empathy.
  2. Mental Health: Develop a PSA that aims to reduce stigma and promote the importance of seeking help and support. Feature interviews with professionals, individuals with lived experiences, and help for accessing the correct services.
  3. Environmental Conservation: Create a visually impactful PSA that highlights the urgency of environmental issues like climate change, deforestation, or plastic pollution. Use compelling visuals, statistics, and call-to-action statements to encourage sustainable practices and emphasize the role of individuals in making a difference.
  4. Road Safety: Discuss the importance of responsible driving, seatbelt usage, and avoiding distracted driving through a dynamic campaign. Include testimonials from accident survivors, interviews with traffic safety experts, and reenactments to emphasize the consequences of reckless driving.
  5. Healthy Eating: Develop a relatable and informative presentation to promote healthy eating habits. Include practical tips, recipes, and visuals showcasing the benefits of balanced diets. Address the risks of consuming unhealthy processed foods and encourage individuals to make nutritious choices.
  6. Anti-Drug Abuse: Make something powerful that emphasizes the dangers of drug abuse and addiction. Incorporate testimonials from recovering addicts, interviews with substance abuse counselors, and information about local addiction treatment sources to encourage individuals struggling with addiction to seek help.
  7. Gender Equality: Develop an empowering PSA that promotes gender equality, challenges stereotypes, and encourages equal opportunities for all genders. Highlight success stories of individuals breaking gender barriers and emphasize the importance of inclusive and respectful manners.
  8. Internet Safety: Discuss online safety, privacy, and the prevention of cybercrimes like phishing and identity theft through an informative and engaging PSA. Provide practical tips for protecting personal information, recognizing online scams, and fostering a healthy digital environment.

How to Integrate Public Service Announcements into the Curriculum for Cross-Disciplinary Learning


Identify Relevant Topics and Learning Objectives

Determine the relevant topics or social issues that will get an audience's attention quickly, and that align with your curriculum and learning objectives. Consider issues that can be addressed through PSAs, such as environmental sustainability (clean air and pollution), social justice, or health and wellness.


Engage Students in Research and Analysis

Guide students in researching and analyzing the chosen topic, encouraging them to gather information from reliable sources, evaluate different perspectives, and identify key messages to be conveyed through PSAs.


Collaborative Planning and Storyboarding

Facilitate collaborative planning sessions where students from different disciplines can work together to develop PSA concepts and storyboards. Encourage students to leverage their knowledge and skills from various subjects to create well-rounded PSAs.


Media Production and Implementation

Provide students with access to media production tools and resources, such as video editing software or graphic design platforms, to create their PSAs. Support students in the implementation of their PSAs, whether through broadcasting in the school, sharing on social media, or presenting to relevant stakeholders.


Reflection and Evaluation

Allocate time for students to reflect on their PSA creation process, discussing the challenges, successes, and lessons learned. Establish evaluation criteria that assess both the content and the effectiveness of the PSAs, allowing students to receive feedback and refine their work.


Integration and Application

Encourage students to apply their knowledge and skills from various subjects to contextualize the PSA topic within their respective disciplines. Provide opportunities for students to present or showcase their PSAs in subject-specific settings, such as science fairs, art exhibits, or language arts presentations.

Frequently Asked Questions about PSAs

What is a PSA announcement?

It is a brief message or advertisement designed to inform and educate the public about important social issues, promote responsible behaviors, or encourage community involvement. PSAs are typically broadcast through various channels and are an effective method to inspire action for the greater good.

How many visual elements are enough or too much to use on a PSA template?

The number of elements to use on a PSA template depends on the what you want to say and to whom. Students should be advised that it is recommended to use a balance of images, text, and other design elements to convey the message effectively when making their own. It is important to avoid overloading the announcement with too many visual elements, which can make it difficult to read and understand.

What are some often overlooked issues that may arise when creating a PSA?

Some often overlooked issues when creating a PSA include ensuring that the message is clear and concise, selecting appropriate images and design elements, and considering the cultural and social context of those who will see or hear it. Any public service announcement definition revolves around the purposeful dissemination of messages aimed at creating awareness, promoting social responsibility, and fostering positive behavior change within a specific target audience. Therefore, it is important to avoid using language or images that may be offensive or inappropriate and to test the announcement with a small group of students before sharing it widely. It is also important to only use images that are in the public domain or have a Creative Commons license to avoid copyright infringement issues.

Are there any guidelines I should follow when creating a PSA template?

Yes, you should consider the target audience, message, and format of the PSA when designing the template. For instance, when creating templates, it is important to consider the age range of the target audience. Topics that are age-appropriate should use language and images that are appropriate for the target age group. It is important to avoid using images or language that may be too mature or difficult for younger students to understand. It is also important to ensure that the crafted announcement follows ethical and legal guidelines.

What are some factors to consider in terms of instruction and design when developing PSA templates for students with special needs in the classroom?

When considering how to create a PSA template for students with special needs, it is important to acknowledge their individual needs and ensure that the materials are accessible and understandable to them. This may involve simplifying the language used, providing additional visual aids or audio instructions, and allowing for extra time or breaks during the design process. It is also important to consider the specific disability or special need of each student and tailor the instruction and design accordingly.

What are PSAs that would be suitable for creating activity worksheets?

PSAs that are suitable for creating activity worksheets can cover a wide range of common topics and themes. Some examples to focus on that are great starting points for activity worksheets include those related to health and safety (e.g., seat belts, smoking prevention), environmental issues (e.g., recycling, conservation), social awareness (e.g., anti-bullying, mental health), and community engagement (e.g., volunteering, civic responsibility). These often have clear messages, target specific people, and use persuasive techniques that can be analyzed and explored in activity worksheets to promote learning and engagement.

What are some tips for how to write a PSA script that resonates with social media audiences?

When crafting a PSA script, start by understanding your audience and their preferences. Use a strong hook to grab their attention swiftly, as social media users have limited patience. Keep the script concise and straightforward while telling an emotionally engaging story. Include a clear call to action that guides viewers on what to do next, such as sharing the post or visiting a website. Incorporate visuals and audio, and avoid using complex language or jargon. Test your announcement on the chosen platform, actively engage with your audience, and measure its performance using key metrics to refine your future strategies.

What is the difference between a commercial and a PSA?

A commercial is created for profit-driven advertising, promoting products or services, while a PSA serves a public interest, educating about social issues, safety, or community initiatives without profit as the primary goal.

What is a good PSA?

Creating an effective public service announcement requires a clear message, engaging content, and a call to action. The effectiveness depends on various factors including the medium of delivery and the nature of the issue being addressed. Here are some tips for creating a good PSA:

  • Know Your Audience: Tailor your message to the specific demographics and interests of your target audience.
  • Emotional Appeal: Appeal to emotions to create a connection with the audience. People are more likely to respond emotionally.
  • Clarity is Key: Ensure that your message is clear and easy to understand. Avoid jargon or complicated language.
  • Use Storytelling: Narratives are powerful tools for engagement. Personal stories can make the issue more relatable.

What is the most popular PSA?

Determining the "most popular" PSA can be challenging, as it depends on factors such as the region, time period, and the criteria used for measurement (e.g., views, impact, cultural significance). However, one of the most iconic and widely recognized PSAs is the "This is your brain on drugs" campaign.

The campaign, launched in the 1980s by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, featured an egg sizzling in a frying pan, symbolizing the brain on drugs. The accompanying narration emphasized the harmful effects of drug use. The simplicity and impact of the visual metaphor made it memorable, and it became a cultural phenomenon, often referenced and parodied in various forms of media such as radio stations, television, and print.

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