AMiable Solution #331: PSAs for For-Profit Companies
Sometimes, in the interest of the greater good, you just have to do something for nothing. Put something out there that you can’t track or directly benefit from.
We do that when we organize company-wide food drives. When we host a fundraiser for a local cause. When we donate funds or materials.
We can also do that with a public service announcement, or PSA.
Traditionally created for federal, state, or local governments or programs or by non-profit organizations, PSAs have one goal: benefit the public. And while some of the most memorable (“This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.”) and longest-running (“Only you can prevent wildfires.”) PSAs have come from organizations that gain no financial benefit from their efforts, it doesn’t mean that for-profit organizations can’t shine a light on a pressing social issue, especially when it directly relates to the work they do. In 2016, Colgate created a Super Bowl commercial encouraging people to turn off the water while brushing their teeth. Budweiser regularly promotes acting responsibly after consuming its products.
But how do you make sure your PSA looks like a PSA and not a sleazy ad? Follow these five guidelines:
· Focus on the issue. Your company’s name should only be a footnote at the bottom of the page or end of the video. Create awareness of the issue or problem by making it the star of your print, radio, or TV ad, not you.
· Pick an issue that makes sense. There should be some correlation between what your company does or makes and the issue.
· Educate. If you truly want to help create change, tell your audience about the problem. That means you have to do your research and provide accurate, persuasive statistics and facts.
· Craft your message as carefully as any offer. The whole point of your PSA is to benefit the public. Use your graphic design and copywriting skills to create a message that’s memorable and impactful.
· Study the greats. The Ad Council has been churning out PSAs since 1941. Check them out and learn.
Will you benefit from a PSA? If your message is appropriate and your PSA effective or unsettling, then yes, people may remember you or look at your company positively. But that’s not why you should do it. You should create your own PSA because contributing to the greater good is just that. Good.