The Use of Public Service Announcements
Public service announcements are a form of advertisement that can be featured on different forms of media such as television, print, newspapers, the internet, and more. Unlike typical advertisements that serve to market and advertise a product or service, public service announcements are used to create or modify public interest on a given topic. This can be done by changing public attitudes or just raising awareness in order to potentially cause change or action.
Most of the time, public service announcements try to raise awareness of issues related to the safety or health of society. These announcements work to educate or inform society about some sort of issue, for example, the dangers of smoking, the obesity epidemic, or drug abuse in young adults.
One method used in public service announcements to raise awareness is to have a celebrity to show support. Others public service announcements may work to promote certain themes and lifestyles. For example, an organization may wish to promote altruism or perhaps good family values if the organization feels that these qualities are diminishing in society.
Charitable organizations and religious groups are not the only groups they may try to affect social attitude with the use of public service announcements. Government agencies or other groups, such as the United States military may also create public service announcements. For example, the military uses them to try to recruit enlistees.
A very common practice is to include special public service announcements after shows that have certain themes expressed in the particular episode. This technique was often used in many different cartoons in the United States during the 1980’s. These public service announcements would be used to express certain moral lessons for children.
The use of public service announcements started even before the commercial advertising sector was solidified in the United States. Public service announcements were used to promote certain products as a result of the success of bonds being sold during the Civil War.
The Ad Council that was incorporated as War Advertising Council that was created during World War II was used to help mobilize advertising to support the war effort. In many ways, public service announcements were modeled based on the techniques used at this time.
The Ad Council followed the idea of influencing American society on many different facets through advertising. After the War ended, the Ad Council started focusing on peacetime issues, such as highway safety, blood donations, and forest fires.
Today, public service announcements are made by many different nonprofit and government organizations. Some of the issues being promoted include:
• Autism awareness
• Booster seat education
• Drunk driving prevention
• Emergency preparedness
• Lifelong literacy
• Supporting minority education
• College access
• Energy efficiency
• Hunger prevention