The PSA Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters

The PSA Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters
Prepared by members of the
Public Relations Committee:
Dr. Ronald E. Milliman, Chairman
Keith Bundy
Mike Duke
Ed Facemyer
Michael Garrett
Sharon Lovering
Joe Otts
Edited by
Dr. Ronald E. Milliman
Published by the
American Council of the Blind
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, VA 22201
(202) 467-5081
fax: (703) 465-5085
Copyright 2010
All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: What Is A PSA?

Chapter 2: Audio Recording at Home

Chapter 3: Creating a Video PSA

Chapter 4: Getting Your PSA Distributed

Appendix A: Sources for Audio and Video Files That You Can Use

Appendix B: Sample Media Release Form


Chapter 1: What is a PSA?


This handbook was written to assist you when planning, creating, and distributing public service announcements (PSAs) for your ACB affiliate or chapter. We begin by describing what a PSA is. We provide you with some examples, some ideas for themes around which you might create a PSA, and suggestions on how to use PSAs for maximum effectiveness to promote your affiliate or chapter.

We describe how to create an audio PSA for radio in the second chapter, and then, in the third chapter, we describe how to create video PSAs for TV or online distribution. The fourth chapter is devoted to how to get your PSA distributed. The appendices provide you with sources for audio and video files you can use, and a sample media release form that you can use to make sure you have permission to use the materials, pictures, and voices that are a part of your PSA. Finally, we provide you a list of resources that we used when writing this handbook, which you can consult to learn more about this topic.

What is a PSA?

The term "PSA" is short for public service announcement. A PSA is often referred to as an unpaid advertisement for an organization, usually a government entity or non-profit organization. Radio and TV stations are required by the Federal Communications Commission to set aside a certain amount of their air time for public service announcements. The purpose is to promote a cause, an idea, the mission of an organization, or an event.

For example, the California Council of the Blind might run a PSA that focuses on senior citizens losing their eyesight:

"If you are a senior citizen who is losing your eyesight, we, the California Council of the Blind, understand what you are facing. Many of our members have had to deal with the same challenges. We have numerous resources that can help you. To find out more about what we can do to help you, call the California Council of the Blind at 1-800-221-6359 today!"

To promote its mission, the Florida Council of the Blind might run a PSA such as this:

"Are you blind, losing your eyesight, or know someone who is? The mission of the Florida Council of the Blind is to serve as mentors and provide assistance and encourage the independence of people who are blind or losing their eyesight. To learn more about the Florida Council of the Blind and how we can help, call us at 1-800-267-4448."

To promote a piano concert, Western Kentucky University used a PSA similar to this one:

"Sylvia Kershbaum is considered one of the top 5 pianists in the entire world, and she is inviting you to attend her next concert, to be performed Sunday, Oct. 26. The concert will begin at 2 p.m. in the Kennedy Musical Hall on WKU's campus. Admission $10; seniors and students, $5. All proceeds go to the South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind. For more information, call 123-456-7890."

Again, a public service announcement (PSA) is a free announcement broadcast on radio, television, or the Internet for the interest of the general public. PSAs are similar to advertisements. Both are meant to promote something, but PSAs are free and usually restricted to a maximum of 30 seconds, while an advertisement costs money. To a large extent, the length of an ad is restricted only by the size of the advertiser's budget. PSAs are intended to modify public attitudes by raising awareness of particular groups, organizations, and events.

PSAs are very useful for organizations such as local and state affiliates of the American Council of the Blind. While some PSAs regarding ACB and regarding blindness in general can be written and recorded at the national level, there will be times when local and state affiliates will want to create their own PSAs designed to capture the interest of people in their particular areas of the country.

Perhaps your affiliate wants to take advantage of White Cane Day. While you may not be conducting an activity, which would be newsworthy and thus merit a press release, you may want someone from your affiliate to write and record a PSA about this day. Often the recording of a PSA by someone at the local or state level will be of greater interest to the public than the same PSA recorded by a national figure. It enables them to realize that someone in their area has an interest in the topic or issue. Other times when PSAs might be appropriate include Braille Literacy Month and White Cane Safety Week. An affiliate may want to run PSAs during the time period leading up to its convention. A local or state affiliate might even want to run PSAs on a somewhat regular basis in order to draw attention to the potential and the concerns of individuals who are blind in its particular area.

While PSAs are a valuable resource, preparing one that is effective is often like solving a mystery. What constitutes an effective PSA? How can an affiliate, often with shrinking resources, put together a PSA that will capture the interest of those who hear or see it? This handbook will answer these questions and others. The goal of the ACB Public Relations Committee in producing this handbook is to empower local and state affiliates to produce and release PSAs that will be effective in helping promote the interests of the American Council of the Blind and of its various local and state affiliates and chapters.

There are several PSAs currently available to you to use, covering a wide range of key topics and issues, on ACB's web site. The recordings and written scripts are both available there. You can use them exactly as they are written, or you can use them as a kind of template, modifying them with your affiliate or chapter's identification, i.e. replacing the American Council of the Blind with the Missouri Council of the Blind's name and contact information.

How to Use a PSA

As stated previously, radio and TV stations often run public service announcements on behalf of government agencies and non-profit organizations. For this reason, each day the nation's media outlets receive large numbers of requests for free time or space for PSAs, encouraging them to give their program or announcement special attention. Most PSAs are not selected and the reasons are many and varied. Among the most important are:

- Poor message design
- Irrelevant subject matter

According to broadcasters, three primary criteria are used in selecting PSAs:

• Sponsorship
• Relevance of the message to the community
• Message design

Broadcasters also seek quality, and have raised concerns ranging from "vague and ambiguous messages" to "poor execution." Subject problems include topics that are of little interest to the general public or are too complex to lend themselves to brief delivery.

Yet even well-produced, relevant PSAs often fail to receive the attention they deserve. This is often due to poor presentation of the PSA to the media outlet. Don't ignore the importance of writing a cover letter to the radio and/or TV stations delineating the importance of your PSA and how it is relevant to the interests of their listening or viewing audience. You need to promote your PSA -- a "pitch letter" -- that tells your story and sells it to the media. It is a good idea to include a brochure about your organization. More is devoted to this extremely important point in the fourth chapter of this handbook.

Bear in mind also that radio stations are increasingly rejecting pre-recorded PSAs, and instead have their own announcers read the scripts "live." (However, if there is a compelling reason for distributing a pre-recorded PSA, check with your local radio station for advice on production.) 1

The last chapter of this handbook discusses how to package and distribute your PSA for maximum results. Writing the script and recording your PSA is just the beginning. It makes no difference how well written it is and how nicely recorded it is if you don't get it distributed to the right places and aired on the desired stations.





Chapter 2: Audio Recording At Home

It is easy and relatively inexpensive to record broadcast-quality audio on a home computer. Beyond the computer, the essential additional tools are a suitable microphone, recording software, and a quiet recording environment. While it is possible to spend the entire household budget on any of these items, here are some less expensive options which will not compromise the quality of the final audio product.

Many good microphones are available for less than $50. They can be purchased from electronics and computer stores, as well as the appropriate department of many general variety stores. Look for a microphone with a wide frequency response. The greater the frequency response, the better your recording will sound. An acceptable frequency response is a range such as 50Hz - 15kHz. Avoid microphones with a narrow frequency response such as 300Hz - 3kHz.

Many microphones connect to a computer via a USB port. The advantage of such a unit is that it includes a separate sound card within the microphone. This arrangement provides better isolation from the electronic noise which is often generated by the internal components of the computer.

The cost of the recording software ranges from free to several hundred dollars. While the high-dollar programs come equipped with many features and fancy graphics, don't underestimate the less expensive alternatives, even for professional use. The mention of specific software within the following paragraphs is not an endorsement of that software.

Windows Sound Recorder is a simple program which is supplied as part of Microsoft Windows or Vista. While the program only creates wave files, and has very limited editing capabilities, it is an easy way to generate recordings of excellent quality.

An audio tutorial for Sound Recorder may be downloaded from the TechTalk archive section of This presentation discusses the limitations of the program, how to expand the recording capability beyond the one-minute default, and how to create screen reader graphics labels for the play, stop, and record buttons.

Additional information about this program can also be found by typing the phrase "Windows Sound Recorder" into a search engine.

Audacity is a very popular free audio editor. It too was the subject of a TechTalk presentation which can be found in the Accessible World archive mentioned above. It is available from

Goldwave is used by many audio professionals. A full license is only $49.95. It is available from

Rick Harmon has produced a series of audio tutorials for Goldwave. These files, along with information about JAWS scripts for Goldwave may be found at

Total Recorder is another inexpensive audio recorder program with a large following. Purchase or read more about it at

Dean Martineau created a very good audio tutorial series for Total Recorder as part of his "Sound Computing" audio subscription service. For more information about obtaining these files, visit

External Audio Editing Tools

Some audio programs require the use of external tools in order to perform certain functions. While specific details are beyond the scope of this document, here are a few which may be useful.

Levelator is a powerful free program which will equalize varying levels within a wave file. It can be downloaded from

The Lame Encoder is an example of a utility which must be used with some audio editors including Audacity, Goldwave, and Total Recorder when saving material in the MP3 file format. It can be downloaded from the programs page at

An audio file format converter is used to convert an audio file type such as wave or MP3 to almost any other audio file format. Type the phrase "free audio file converter" into a search engine to find many available options.

The Recording Environment

Most people don't have the resources or physical space to construct a "recording studio" within their homes. Nevertheless, good audio recordings can be made when using a bedroom or home office as a temporary recording studio by following these simple guidelines.

Use the smallest available room, preferably one which is as far away as possible from the main activity area of your house.

Placing a rug or carpet on the floor and hanging curtains in the windows will greatly improve the sound, especially if the room is nearly empty of furniture. Blankets and bed sheets can be used as temporary floor and window dressings if necessary. Placing one or more pillows near the microphone may also improve the sound of the recording.

Before beginning to record, turn off the cell phone, and disconnect the land-line telephone in the room being used for the project. There is a design flaw in the telephone which causes it to ring incessantly whenever recordings are being made.

Make the recordings during times when yard work is not being done, and other household activity is at a minimum.

When the project is finished, return the sheets, blankets and pillows to their proper places, and reconnect the telephone. Otherwise, the only available room for the next audio project may be the doghouse.



1. - audio tutorial for Sound Recorder and Audacity

2. - source for Audacity audio editing program

3. - source for Goldwave program

4. - source for Goldwave tutorials and Lame Encoder program

5. - source for Total Recorder sound recording program

6. - source for tutorials on Total Recorder

7. - source for Levelator sound equalizer program


Chapter 3: Creating a Video PSA


When creating your video PSA, you will use most of the information you used in creating your audio PSAs. The big difference is that you are incorporating graphics or video when creating your PSA. This does increase the difficulty to some extent, but it is still very doable.

Like your audio PSA, your video PSA will answer the key questions: who, what, when, where and why. Often, you can even use the same audio for your video PSA as you used for your audio PSA; just add appropriate video components. Likewise, it is possible to create your video PSA by incorporating both audio and graphic components, and the audio can be used for your audio PSA.

Regardless of whether you are creating and distributing audio or video PSAs or both, you always want to make sure you provide the media -- radio, TV, or online -- with the following information:

- Name of your organization
- Contact information for your organization, e.g. name, address and telephone number
- Start and stop dates for your PSA
- Length of your PSA, e.g. 15, 30, or 60 seconds (30 seconds is the standard)
- A brief description of the key point of your PSA and its relevance to the medium's audience

Just as you did when creating your audio PSA, ask the media to co-sponsor your PSA by adding a tag line. The tag line simply says something like: "This important public service message was brought to you by the Tennessee Council of the Blind and WLAC, the Clear Channel station that brings you the country music sound of Nashville, every hour of every day!"

It is also important to recognize that different media and stations have different policies regarding the airing of public service announcements, especially video PSAs. Before submitting your PSA, get the answers to the following questions:

- Do you broadcast PSAs?
- If so, which length do you prefer for PSAs, 15, 30, or 60 seconds?
- Which format do you prefer, ½ inch or ¾ inch tape or a specific digital format?
- Is there a limit to the number of PSAs my organization can submit over a certain period of time?
- Does your station provide PSA production services?
- How much lead time do you need for our organization's PSA?
- What policies or other restrictions regarding PSAs on your station does my organization need to know about? 1

Outsourcing the Production of Your Video PSA

You can save yourself lots of problems and headaches if you can find a low-cost or free way of outsourcing the creation of your PSA. Even if it costs a little money, it is well worth it. There is never any down side to asking the station's public service director if they will produce a PSA for your affiliate or chapter. Some stations will do it at no charge, and some will have a fee associated with their production services, but often it is better to have the station do it if they will. That way, you are assured of a high-quality, professional-looking PSA. Your best, least cost, or even sometimes free, production services are obtained from public broadcasting stations.

Some other excellent resources you should check out are the communications or broadcasting departments at your local educational institutions such as junior colleges, technical schools, universities, etc. The instructors and professors are often looking for real-world opportunities for their students, and in turn, students welcome the opportunity to work on projects that will develop and demonstrate their creativity, abilities and talents.

In addition, most states have a professional association of broadcasters which is affiliated with the highly effective National Association of Broadcasters. You may wish to contact the association in your state to discuss your affiliate's or chapter's public service needs. Its staff may be willing to assist you in locating free or low-cost production services. They may also be willing to help you with your PR efforts and PSA campaigns.

You will still have to provide the theme of your PSA; that is, what is your PSA's key point. For example: making the community aware of your affiliate or chapter and what it offers, or focusing on older people who are losing their eyesight and offering them a free copy of our ACB white paper entitled "Are You a Senior Citizen Struggling with Vision Loss?" You will also need to provide the production people with the script for your PSA and decide who will take a direct role in it; that is, who will say what, who will do what. You need to decide whether the graphic aspects will be provided by the producer or by your organization, and whether the graphics will be static or dynamic, etc. Static graphics are visuals that can be seen but are just pictures or stationary scenes that are there for visual support and that fit the PSA's message. Dynamic graphics are action visuals, perhaps of actors giving a mini-performance dramatizing your PSA's message. It is the difference between having a still picture versus a movie. These are the kinds of details a production professional can assist you with.

Creating Your Own Video PSA

Creating your own video PSA is another story. Like it or not, you will need the assistance of someone with eyesight. We all hate to admit that we cannot do something, and that we need help from someone who is sighted, but there are those times when we simply have to accept the reality of the situation, and this happens to be one of those situations.

However, the good news is that with today's technology, an amazingly high-quality video production can be obtained with fairly inexpensive equipment. At the minimum, you will need a camcorder, digital camera, or a cell phone that has high-resolution quality to shoot the desired video. There are many makes and models from which you can choose. The Flip Video Cam is an easy-to-use, pocket-sized camcorder that comes with its own editing software and is quite reasonably priced.

Depending on the hardware device you use, you will probably need to edit your masterpiece with software such as iMovie (see "Apple - iMovie - Make a movie on your Mac," or Windows Movie Maker (See "How to use Windows Movie Maker,"

If you don't have the equipment and don't want to purchase it or have the funds to purchase it, you might be able to find someone who has a camera that you can borrow. And if you're really lucky, the person with the camera might even be kind enough to assist you with creating your PSA masterpiece.


- Keep to the limit. Make sure your spot is exactly 30 seconds! Use your words, images and time wisely.
- Consider your audience. Keep in mind who you are trying to reach and keep your message and video content appropriate.
- Brainstorm ideas. Search the web and watch PSAs created by other advocacy groups.
- Hook your audience. To grab your viewer's attention, think of a catchy "hook," like a clever message, statistic, or emotional story, that they'll remember your video by.
- Check your facts. Make sure all of your information is accurate and up-to-date.
- Visuals are important. Your PSA can be live-action, still pictures or animation, and can include anything from people to puppets. Make your visuals count. Consider having your actors wear matching T-shirts or hang up posters with appropriate statistics in the background.
- Use captions or graphics to illustrate numbers. It's easier to understand what facts and figures mean if you illustrate them with text or graphics.
- Check your camera settings. For the best quality, shoot in high-resolution and save your video as a .mov, .avi, .wmv or .mpg file. 2

A Few Hints and Tips Specifically on Shooting Video

- Look at everything that's in the viewfinder. Sometimes you get so focused on what you're trying to get in the shot that you don't notice something distracting in the background.

- Use your imagination and trust your judgment. If it looks cool to you, it'll probably look cool to other people. If it looks boring to you, it'll probably be very boring for everyone else.

- Remember that if you put a bright light in the background (the sun, headlights, etc.), the person in front of it will turn into a silhouette. If you want a silhouette, that's fine. But if you want to see the person's expressions or movement, then move the person away from the light.

- Be inventive and creative. For steady shots, you could use a tripod, or set the camera on a table or chair. For shooting at night, you could light the scene with streetlights, headlights, or even hold a flashlight next to the camera, pointing it at your subject.

- Try not to mix lighting. Daylight has a blue color (like the sky) and inside light has an orange or green tint to it. If you're inside near a window, close the blinds so blue light doesn't come in. Or only use the blue light from outside, and turn off the lights inside.

- Watch for reflective surfaces. Nothing ruins the effect of a shot quicker than seeing the cameraman reflected in a car window. Trying to shoot mirrors from an angle, generally a low angle, where the camera is a little lower than the mirror, works best.

- Remember the difference between "pretty good" and "perfect." If you keep trying to get it perfect, you may be striving for that perfection the rest of your life! Just do the best you can, and move on to the next shot or part of your PSA project. 3

The next chapter discusses how to get your PSA distributed to, and accepted by, the desired media, e.g. radio and TV stations, cable systems, and even online sources. We cover who to contact, how to contact the key person, and we even give you details on how to put together a distribution package for maximum results.



1. National Institute of Justice, Creating a Public Service Announcement:

2. Creating a Video PSA:

3. How to Create a PSA, Video Shooting Tips & Storyboard Help:


Chapter 4: Getting Your PSA Distributed


We will begin this chapter discussing the more traditional media, such as radio and TV. Then we will briefly discuss digital media such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

Each PSA format (print, radio, and television) has a slightly different distribution profile relative to target audiences, media outlets, packaging and production costs. But some of the same principles apply when developing your distribution plan. As with press release distribution, take a team approach when getting your PSA distributed. You may be able to use some of the same contacts you established during your press release efforts. (See chapter 3 of "The Press Release Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters" for details on building a contact database.)

Print PSAs

The print PSA conveys a message in a slightly different way with similar and sometimes greater benefits. While broadcast PSAs rely on catchy sound and eye-riveting motion, print is more tangible and has the potential to reach a more diverse audience. Because print is used less frequently than broadcast, it is important to develop an effective PSA distribution plan.

Newspaper. Depending on the source, estimates suggest that there are just over 11,000 daily and weekly newspapers in the U.S. It is also suggested that about 52 percent of these publishers are regular users of PSAs. You can develop a distribution plan using these criteria:

1) The number of newspapers - determine your universe

2) Types of papers - daily, weekly, specialized reaching a specific audience

3) Circulation size - from large metropolitan areas to small cities and towns

4) Previous usage pattern - if possible, find out which newspapers most frequently use PSAs

5) Geographic segmentation - determine the audience you want to target; that will help in the choice of newspapers you use

Magazines. It is almost impossible to determine just how many national, regional, local, and specialized magazines there are in the U.S., but they do provide a chance to reach a broad and sophisticated audience. Estimates suggest that the percentage of magazines which regularly use PSAs is significantly less than the percentage used by newspapers. They also offer the opportunity to send a targeted message to a specialized audience.

Packaging. As our society moves more toward high-tech, even print PSA distribution is going that way. The most preferred packaging format is by CD. According to both newspaper and magazine publishers, this format allows for more flexibility and ease of use. Advantages include: digital art; high-resolution PDF files can be used in either PC or Mac platform; and most CDs have enough disc capacity to provide PSAs in both color and black and white. Your package should include:

1) A letter to the advertising director -- tell why your issue is important, how your affiliate or chapter benefits the local community, and why your PSA should be used

2) A fact sheet - give brief facts about your issue

3) Sizes - give the media outlet some flexibility by providing your PSA in a variety of sizes (from a quarter page to a full page)

4) Tax-exempt number - proof that your affiliate or chapter is a non-profit

5) Always send a thank-you letter to the outlets that publish your PSAs (see sample below).

Radio PSAs

Keep in mind that the primary intent for a PSA is to inform, educate, and motivate. The hope is to bring attention to a specific issue so that it has maximum impact on the audience that hears it. Radio is an important medium through which you can accomplish this goal. You can design your distribution plan by using these criteria:

1) Develop your contact list - find out if the station has a public service director

2) Develop a distribution strategy - Which stations should you target? Radio can assist you in segmenting your target audiences in several ways, including by age, education, geography, racial composition, and lifestyle. Unless your PSA is meant for the general public, decide who your primary and secondary audiences are, where they live, and which stations reach them most effectively.

3) Use the networks - There are a number of radio networks in the U.S., ranging from National Public Radio to satellite music networks. Find our which ones take PSAs, the required materials and format, and who to contact at each company.

4) Know what materials stations require - Stations use a variety of broadcast formats, including live announcer scripts, recorded discs, and sound sheets. Some even use cassette tapes and reel-to-reel tapes. If you send them what they want, you have a better chance of getting your PSA aired.

5) Give stations options - Regardless of how you package your PSA, always send along a live announcer's copy. If possible, provide the PSA in different lengths, ranging from 10 seconds to 1 minute. Make sure the PSA can be used in several musical formats, i.e., country, R&B, rock, and easy listening.

6) Use attractive packaging - Create an attractive package. If possible, add additional color and graphics.

7) Cover letter - Be sure to include a letter and fact sheet that explains the issue and its importance.

8) Send a thank-you letter when your PSA is aired (see sample below).

Television PSAs

The television PSA offers the unique opportunity to capture the attention of a broad audience through both motion and sound. It looks like a commercial, but it has the added impact of informing, educating and motivating the public regarding a particular cause or issue of importance. Generally, the television station will determine the tastes, needs, and desires of its viewers and will choose from interests such as health, safety, social services, civic activities and environmental concerns. Once your PSA has been produced, you can develop your distribution plan based on these criteria:

1) Determine which stations are using which types of spots.

2) Contact the station's public service or community affairs director and establish a relationship.

3) Determine which stations do not take outside-produced PSAs, but run their own community affairs programming.

4) Determine which format the station wants. Most stations are moving toward a digital format, in which case the station will probably prefer either .mov or .avi formats in 640/480 resolution. If tape is used, they will probably prefer DVC Pro tape.

6) The preferred length is a 30-second PSA.

Tip: Explore using alternative media. It's often easier to obtain placement in alternative media (e.g., cable television; closed-circuit television stations in hospitals, doctors' offices, and universities; newsletters and weekly newspapers) than on network television and other major media outlets. Although they may not be considered major media outlets, it may be easier to segment target audiences into specific demographics.


1) Make your package stand out with additional color and/or graphics, if possible.

2) Include a letter written on your affiliate's stationery, explaining the spot and why the PSA should be aired.

3) Include a fact sheet on the issue.

4) Include a script of the PSA.

5) Send the organization's tax-exempt number.

6) Send along a self-addressed, stamped reply card.

7) Send a thank-you letter when your PSA is aired (see sample below).

A Good Resource for Mass Distribution of Your PSA

If you are seeking widespread distribution of your PSA, you just need a good PSA and e-mail addresses or fax numbers of program directors. You can go to and send e-mails to the media at no cost.

Sample Thank-You Letter

Here is a sample follow-up/thank-you letter that you can modify as needed and use to send to the media that air/print your PSA:

Dear [insert name and title of general manager or public service director]:

On behalf of the Tennessee Council of the Blind (TCB), thank you for airing our PSA. Your continued support to help our blind and low-vision population in this area is deeply appreciated. The TCB is very grateful that your (station/newspaper) is helping to educate the public about blindness and spread the awareness of our organization. Your (station's/newspaper's) commitment to our community is commendable.

Most sincerely,
(insert your name and position)

Contemporary Media

Up to this point we have discussed traditional media, but we would be remiss if we did not at least mention a few of the various digital resources. We are going to very briefly turn to the most contemporary media available. They are all digital media and are all Internet-based. They include the various search engines and information delivery sources such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN. We are also going to mention using YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. There are still others that we could cover, but these are the biggies, and at this point in time, the most important ones. Media change so rapidly, who knows what will be the hot one next month, or next year?

The methods by which journalists research story ideas and resources are quickly evolving. "A recent Cision and George Washington University study found that 89 percent of journalists turn to blogs for research, 65 percent to social media sites like Facebook, 52 percent to Twitter and Wikipedia." 1

By using contemporary media, such as YouTube, "... public-issue, topical campaigns (like ACB national might be involved with) attracted significant attention and resulted in the desired action, especially if they used humor, music, melodrama, scare tactics, celebrity endorsements, or personal narratives.

"The rapid growth of Web 2.0 - the interactive World Wide Web of blogs, online video, and user friendly tools and platforms for social networking (including Facebook and Twitter, among others) - has led to new communication practices, which are growing outside the increasingly stifling confines of mass media. Yochai Benkler (The Wealth of Nations) among others has proposed that new publics are being generated in this open environment, freed from the stuffy paternalism of traditional public media. The rapid growth since late 2005 of commercial Web sites that host digital video created by users - YouTube, Google Video and MySpace Video are the three largest offers an opportunity to look more closely at explicitly public practices in an open media environment. These sites are only growing in importance." 2 Thus, using these media to distribute your PSAs is imperative, especially if it is an issue of broad geographic interest.

For this reason, contemporary media are probably more effective for the ACB to use at the national level to promote major campaigns, e.g. quiet cars, attitudes about blindness, ACB itself, etc. Most issues or campaigns launched by affiliates and chapters are best distributed using more local, traditional media, as discussed earlier in this chapter. Affiliates and chapters should focus their PSA distribution to more localized sources such as local radio and TV stations, newspapers, web sites, cable companies, etc. It is much easier to develop relationships with your local media, which will greatly increase the probability of your getting your PSA accepted and aired or printed.

Suggested PSA Distribution Kit

The way you present your PSA greatly affects how it is perceived and whether it is accepted by the radio or TV station or other medium. We strongly recommend that you put together the following package to distribute your PSA:

- Use a nice two-pocket folder.

- Place a label on the front with the name of your PSA (e.g., Are You or Is Someone You Know Losing Their Eyesight?), followed by your affiliate's or chapter's name and contact information. This label needs to be typed, preferably in color, and neat; include your logo if possible.

- Inside the folder in the left pocket, you should have a cover letter in the front, behind which you should include the hard copy of your PSA script; then, behind the hard copy script, you should place the digital copy. Be sure to mention versions, hard copy and digital, of your script in your cover letter. Often this left pocket will also have a place for your business card; it is an excellent idea to place a business card in this business card holder.

- The right pocket should hold the information about your affiliate or chapter such as a brochure, a couple of your most recent press releases, etc.

- Call each media source you want to run your PSA; find out who is responsible for handling public service announcements for that outlet; make sure you get his/her name and title correct, and ask to talk with that key person; identify yourself, the organization you represent, and why you are calling.

- If possible, arrange to hand-deliver your PSA packet directly to the key person in charge of PSAs for each outlet you want to carry it. Or let the key person know that you are mailing the packet to him/her. Follow up a few days after you have sent it out, allowing ample time for it to be delivered, to make sure the key person received it; reinforcing the importance of your PSA to that medium's audience.

- Do your best to verify that the outlet is giving your PSA coverage, and if it is, send the key person a nice note of appreciation. It would be a good idea to call and thank the key person too!






Appendix A:
Sources for Audio and Video Files that You Can Use

In this appendix, we have included numerous sources for obtaining all kinds of audio and video files that you can obtain to use when creating your public service announcements. There are sounds like screeching brakes, screams, trains, gunshots, bells ringing, applause, and thousands more, and most of these are free to download. We have also included sources for obtaining all kinds of video files, images, pictures, and graphics that you can use when creating your video PSA. Most of these are free, but there are some that you might have to purchase for a very small fee.

Sources for Sounds and Music

Here is a great site with tons of all types of sounds for free. Go to:

If you're looking for sound effects, check out and Most of the sound effects on these sites are free.

You can find a wide variety of sounds, including sound clips, MP3s, music files, rock, techno, and MPEG3, at

At this site, you'll find a good selection of high-quality free MP3s from a variety of independent artists and bands. The site also includes information about each artist. Each tune may be previewed before you download the full track. Go to:

This site offers royalty-free industry standard hip-hop and rap beats. To access the free content, click on the "Free Stuff" link. The site also offers beats for sale. Go to:

Need free, original instrumental MP3 files in a variety of music styles, including rap and hip hop? Visit The site also offers free WAV sample files that you can use to create your own beats.

Here's a new directory that offers a nice collection of free, legal MP3 music files from up-and-coming independent musicians. Categories include children's music, Christian songs, dance, folk, instrumental and rock. Go to:

Looking for acoustic guitar music? Go to Artists here include Peter Janson, Ken Bonfield, Muriel Anderson, Jaquie Gipson, and more. New files are posted here regularly.

If it's soothing, original solo piano music you need, go to This site offers free MP3s of soothing, original solo piano music. The site also serves as a resource for people experiencing "tough times due to illness, loss of loved ones, or any other type of personal pain."

Are you looking for nature sounds? Visit Available sounds include ocean waves, rainforest, streams, rain and thunder; they are in MP3 format. Clips are free; entire recordings are available for a modest charge.

If it's everyday household sounds you need, check out Sound effects include: car starts, clangs, coffee pots, creaks, door closings & openings, fan, garage door, hanging & picking up the phone, inserting cassette, key sounds, oven door, paper pack, pouring rain, refrigerator, toilet flushing, water running and more.

Looking for something a little more out of this world? Go to: This site has tons of sounds, from jet planes and prop planes to missiles, spacecrafts, explosions, alien bugs, dragon sounds, crystal forcefield, icebergs, and much, much more.

Here is another site for free sound effects, free music loops, free sounds, and free sound clips! All .wavs on this site are free to download for personal use. Go to:

Audio clips, sound effects, nature songs, kids' music, and more, are all available from this site. Go to:

Sources for Video and Image Files

Here is a great site with tons of all media types available for free: clip art, photos, and animations. Go to:

Looking for free, unique clip art and graphics? Visit

If it's graphics, clip art and photos you need, go to is the largest collection of free photographs on the Internet, with 130,587 images in 175 sections organized into 3,581 categories. The comprehensive, yet easy to navigate site offers images that are free for on-line use, with higher quality versions available for sale. Go to

Looking for free clip art, banners, backgrounds, icons, aliens, animals, people, creatures, fonts, holiday art, robots, sports, toys, weather/nature, or cities? Visit This is a portal site with links to loads of images.

Another portal site to check is It has links to thousands of images, clip art, photos, etc., that are mostly all free and can be used when creating video for your PSA.

Do you need glitter animations, pictures, images, or other types of clip art? Go to This portal site links to many sites with a wide variety of art and animation options.


Appendix B: Sample Media Release Form

Whenever you include someone in your PSA, no matter what role that person plays, you must get his/her consent to use his or her voice or picture, or both, in your PSA. Therefore, we are including a sample media release form below that you can use as your consent form when creating your PSAs.

Sample Media Release Form

Release Form

I hereby grant permission to the Alabama Council of the Blind to use my image and/or voice (video and audio) in any media to which it is submitted for the purpose of advancing the goals and objectives of the Alabama Council of the Blind.

Print name: ________________________________

Sign name: _________________________________

Date: ____________________________

(If the person whose video and/or audio is being used is under 18, please have a parent or legal guardian sign below.)

I approve this release. _________________________________
(Parent's or guardian's signature)

Date ______________



Chapter 1


Chapter 2

1. - audio tutorial for Sound Recorder and Audacity

2. - source for Audacity audio editing program

3. - source for Goldwave program

4. - source for Goldwave tutorials and Lame Encoder program

5. - source for Total Recorder sound recording program

6. - source for tutorials on Total Recorder

7. - source for Levelator sound equalizer program

Chapter 3

1. National Institute of Justice, Creating a Public Service Announcement:

2. Creating a Video PSA:

3. How to Create a PSA, Video Shooting Tips & Storyboard Help:

Chapter 4



3. "The Press Release Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters," ACB public relations committee, 2008. To request a copy in braille, large print, or computer CD, contact the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666 or (202) 467-5081.