The Success Of TV Spot Announcements

In my opinion, the best communications device for informing the public of particularly important messages is through the use of television PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS, also referred to as "spots" or simply "P.S.A.'s". The old cliche, "a picture is worth a thousand words," comes into play and with T.V. spots you have both - picture and words. I realize that there is no substitute for newspaper news releases. P.S.A.'s cannot be produced and distributed in a day as news releases can. However, if the correct approach is taken, television can more than supplement the newspapers as a strong communications tool. I believe T.V. spots should pertain to general subjects such as conservation, hunting and fishing information (naturally, geared to help sell licenses) or to controversial issues. A good example of the latter is the spot we produced when our $4.25 game management permit fee was initiated. Nearly everyone saw our spot and therefore we helped the sportsmen of our state to realize that without this fee the drastic reduction of public hunting acreage would continue. We even produced a spot pertaining to our magazine, "SOUTH CAROLINA WILDLIFE." Its airing was a touchy subject. There was doubt by some stations as to whether this was a legitimate public service. By explaining that the subscription rate was less than the actual printing cost and by sending the television P.S.A. directors sample copies of our magazine we convinced them that the magazine was definitely a public service. As a result approximately 10,000 additional subscriptions were added to our list. So the correct approach is very important. Sixty- or thirty-second spots are standard length. Often there's too much information for thirty seconds or too little information for sixty seconds. Therefore, the producer of the spot must decide what's best. You may want 60second and 30-second spots on the same subject. This can be beneficial since P.S.A.'s usually take aiback seat to commercial time. In other words, a station could have a "free" 30-second time slot and none for 60 seconds or vice versa. Good quality is extremely important. There are hundreds of state and federal agencies distributing P.S.A.'s to the TV stations. If each of five state agencies send a spot to a particular station and three are poorly produced it is obvious that they would prefer airing the other two more often and probably would. Other helpful hints - include a nice letter thanking the station for this important public service and explain the need to inform the public on the subject. Many agencies do not include a copy of the script. I've discovered that the busy P.S.A. directors appreciate seeing the script. It saves them time. So the spot, a letter, the script and anything else is helpful. I always send them a copy of our magazine.

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