6 Steps to Help Get Your PSA Aired

PSA campaigns are a great way for nonprofits to share their message through broadcast. But just because broadcast outlets run PSAs for free, it doesn’t mean getting your spot on the air is easy.

Successful PSA campaigns are built through preparation, pitching, persistence and patience (and sometimes prayer). Television stations receive hundreds of PSA submissions every week and have limited spots in their rotation available. So how do you get your PSA aired?

Step 1: Have the right specifications for broadcast

  • PSAs have very specific specifications. PSA spots should be :15, :30 or :60 in length. Anything longer or shorter will not fit into the commercial time stations have available.
  • Have a specific message. Make sure your message is of public interest and has a clear call to action of what you are asking the audience to do.
  • Define your audience: Be very clear on who you are trying to reach with your message and make sure your spot caters to them.

Step 2: Build a landing page

While there are some stations that still request a beta tape, most stations prefer to receive PSAs through digital delivery. A landing page will host all the necessary assets in one place, making it easier and faster for stations to get the spot on the air. The landing page should contain all of your spots in downloadable formats and also contain your PSA letter, run dates, sponsor and press materials.

Step 3: Pitching

Pitch calls and emails need to be made to the public service coordinators on a consistent basis. Television stations usually have a designated person who handles PSAs. If there isn’t one listed in your database, call the assignment desk and ask for a contact, as sometimes the PSA person handles multiple jobs and is not listed. Television stations get a lot of pitches each day, so be sure to pitch early and often.  

Step 4: Persistence

There are over 800 television stations in the country, so it can be quite difficult to reach all of them, and especially difficult to connect with the PSA director. Even if you don’t connect on the phone or get an email response, keep sending your pitches. Stations appreciate notifications and see them even if they don’t respond. PSA pitch campaigns typically require months of daily pitching to get it into rotation.

Step 5: Patience

You have made your calls, actually reached the PSA director and confirmed that your spot will air. Now you can sit back and wait for sigma! Well not exactly… even if you have a confirmation that your spot will air, it may not actually start airing until a month or even 6 weeks later. So be patient, keep pitching and the airings will come.

Step 6: Prayer

When all else fails, sometimes asking for a little assistance can’t hurt.