In 1996, the FCC dropped the licensing requirement that each station should provide substantial evidence of public service as a requirement of license renewal. Despite the fact that stations are not required to, most stations still provide public service announcements and public affairs shows on a regular basis.

But how do they determine what content to use? One hundred percent of stations we surveyed in 2005 said to make it into rotation, a PSA must address an issue that is prevalent in their local community.

In order to make your PSA stand out, we have a few recommendations. First, make sure the PSA is local to the pitching area. Whether it is about a local event or the station is located in an area where they have trial testing for a new groundbreaking drug, let the station know why you picked them as part of your target group. Second, only pitch PSAs that are appropriate for a station’s format. Once a PSA is produced, there is a tendency to try and blanket all the stations you can, but to get more usage, it is much more advantageous to really finely target PSAs. In fact, it doesn’t add any value to stations or clients to send unsuitable PSAs, since they will most likely not be used.

In terms of the audio format stations prefer to receive PSAs, 30% now use MP3s exclusively, with 46% preferring CDs, and 24% exclusively using scripted versions where their local on-air talent voices the PSAs.

Answer submitted by Susan Matthews Apgood,
President, News Generation, Inc.

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