PSA’s Turn Into Viral Video When You Think Outside the Box

We’ve seen them for years.  The typical Public Service Announcement commonly referred to as a PSA.  A celebrity shares an important announcement to create awareness for a non-profit organization or a corporate sponsored goodwill message.  Enter a little bit of b-roll, play the violin, see a sad picture, and then a call to action.  I’m sorry.  It’s boring.  They get on the air, but…does your audience, the average television viewer, remember them?  And more importantly, do they take action?  Are they motivated by the call to action to  donate, volunteer or “get healthy?”

It’s not just about getting TV air time for your PSA, but you want to create an on-air spot that is not only remembered by television viewers, but also has the potential to turn into a viral video on YouTube or other internet video services.

I love this PSA with former Saturday Night Live’s Kevin Nealon.  It’s a perfect blend of satire (poking fun at traditional PSAs) and delivering a serious message.  Take a look:

This PSA has captured over 107,000 YouTube views in just two weeks and is quickly gaining speed.  Why is this easily on its way to becoming a viral video?  Because this is the kind of video you share on Twitter and post on Facebook.  People laugh and want to share.  But if this PSA was edited down to the final 30 seconds and that’s all people saw, it wouldn’t stand a chance at going viral since then it would be a a typical public service announcement.

So you see how satire and humor is a not only a great way to create a memorable message, but will be viral video material, now a hard hitting drama can be effective too.  We all know how dangerous it is to Text and Drive – or do we?

This PSA produced in the U.K. has captured over 1,000,000 YouTube views. No doubt, a lot of people have shared this on Facebook to draw attention to how dangerous it is to Text while driving, but it also creates very dramatic and memorable images that don’t just say “don’t text and drive” but show the consequences which is highly effective.

Though not quite at viral video status, this anti-smoking PSA has the right idea:

Here’s a classic PSA from the Ad Council:  Keep America Beautiful.  Baby boomers and Gen-Xers alike love retro stuff so if you’re organization has some golden goodie blasts from the past, put them up on YouTube and share them on Facebook and Twitter.  A great to way to leverage a part of history and it’s free (if there are no restrictions or copyright considerations).

This Anti Dog Fighting PSA uses a unique perspective (talking dogs) to make the point of how horrible dog fighting is.  It’s very social media media friendly and shareable.  With approximately 180,000 views, it’s been very effective.

I love the humor in this pseudo PSA on End Cat Boredom that’s sponsored by Friskies.  With over 750,000 views, it’s a good example of how a little creativity will take you a long way.

So you’ve seen some good examples of how to think outside the box and turn your message into a viral video.  Derek Halpern also has great tips on what makes your content viral. You can use a very small budget and produce a  “PSA” just for YouTube and online video outlets.  When you’re producing a PSA for television, don’t forget to design it with the additional YouTube (and other online resources) in mind to maximize your audience reach and feel free to call CMP Media Cafe for a free consultation on how to effectively your PSA.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Copyright (c) 2012. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

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