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Placing Public Service Announcements

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 06090571 (posted Sep. 5, 2006)"

The keys to successfully placing a public service advertisement (PSA) in your local newspaper are advance planning and research. You will be asking the newspaper to give you space for free -- space the paper usually sells to companies willing to pay full price. Therefore, to place the PSA, you must be willing to meet the requirements of the newspaper and be flexible.

Consider these pointers to help you successfully navigate the world of newspaper public service advertising.

What is a PSA

A PSA is a message promoting a "public service," and or "educational" that helps people learn more about an important issue. It is not a message to buy a product or service, and it does not endorse a company's product or service.

Learn the Newspaper's Policy on PSAs

The question is, will your local newspaper run the print PSA? Contact the newspaper to learn:

  • If they run PSAs
  • Will they run the PSA free-of-charge, or do you have to pay a rate for the placement? If you have to pay a fee, ask what you can do to receive a reduced rate.
  • Will the newspaper help you find a company to help sponsor the ad if a fee is required to place the ad?
  • What restrictions does the paper have for PSAs, including ad size, font and photo requirements?
  • How do they want the ad submitted, on computer disk or as an ad slick? If you must supply the ad on disk, ask what program or file type the paper accepts.
  • How far in advance do you have to submit the PSA for placement in the paper?
  • How long will the PSA run?
  • Can you run the same PSA at different times throughout the year, or do you have to submit a new one?

Who to Work With at the Newspaper

First you might want to contact a reporter that you know or someone that you may have worked with on a story in the past. Forging strong bonds with your local newspaper can pay off in many ways. (Reporters you work with regularly will often contact you first for information when a story breaks, or will be more willing to take your phone call when you pitch a story.) If no relationship exists, reach out to the public service advertising manager. Tell them about the campaign and why the issue is so important to the community and chances are they'll be more responsive.

If You Have to Buy Ad Space

Again, ask for help. Many newspapers offer significant rate cuts for non-profit groups, so do ask if they will extend the offer to you. Work with your local coalitions/partners to raise the funds needed to secure placement of the ads (with a promise of adding their organization's name and logo to the ad).

Meet All Deadlines

Newspapers run on deadlines. Since you're the one asking for help, it is critical that you meet all key dates. Missing a deadline could prohibit your PSA from running and hinder any future efforts.

Good luck!