From Media for Social Change: A Resource Guide for Community Groups (Revised edition, 1986), published by the Community Forum on Shared Responsibility, Toronto.
- the preferred times are 10 a.m. Tuesday to Friday
Public Service Announcements
Free time and free space are allotted by most media outlets for announcements by non-profit organizations which offer a service to the public. And many newspapers have free community calendars. For addresses, see The Toronto Media Directory chapter or the Media Names & Numbers directory.
Broadcast PSAs: The normal public service announcement (PSA) for broadcast is typed one page to fit 30 or 50 second time slots. It must be written in conversational style and in manageable chunks. Thirty characters equal three seconds. Type your announcement in capital letters, double-spaced. Maximum 100-200 words. Material may be edited.
Smaller stations may broadcast taped material with background music. Clear the music with the station, and they are usually willing to say yes to non-profit groups.
You can also produce your own videotapes for television public service slots. TV stations often have time to screen them outside prime time.
Guidelines for self-produced video material:
- use two-inch or three-quarter-inch video tape. 35mm slides will
Following CAB endorsement, script storyboard should be sent to the public service department or the telecaster committee of the network or station. Product identification or corporate endorsement for a service or organization could render the commercial unacceptable as a PSA. The stations are concerned that material be integrated, in good taste, and not contain unsubstantiated or extravagant claims. The PAS must inform but not attempt to sway the public.
Each station and network has its own set or rules. Global, for example, accepts only PSAs from groups with a federal or provincial non-profit charter. For more information, contact the station or network.
PSAs for magazines: Very few magazines provide an allotment of space for PSAs, but they occasionally have space to fill due to last minute cancellations, etc. Supply your information well in advance and they will (hopefully) keep them on file.
There are no regulations for magazines, other than approval by the Magazine Association of Canada for some magazines. Their guidelines are that a group must be approved by the association's directors as a bona fide non-profit group; that they not be an advocacy group; and that they deal only with physical and mental health issues. However, only big magazines, such as Comac Publications, Maclean's, etc., are members of the association. Smaller magazines often have space.
Make your magazine PSAs look like ads, and make them as attractive as possible.
Community calendars in newspapers: Each of the daily papers has a weekly column, usually located in the entertainment section. They may or may not print your announcement if it seems "too political."
Most community newspapers have calendar listings, as do most alternative newspapers. Noteworthy are the monthly calendars in Issues & Actions and Cross Cultural Communications Centre newsletter. Also, Now magazine publishes calendar items every week.
Calendar - If you are promoting an upcoming event that
you want the media to cover, you can list it in the Sources Calendar,
which reaches journalists across Canada. Listings are free if your
organization is listed in Sources; there is a small fee if
When & How to Hold a News Conference - Do it right, or don't do it at all.
Media Names & Numbers - If you're going to contact the media, you need a good media list. This directory (in print, online, and also available as a database and mailing list) has listings and contact information for all print and online media in Canada. Also available as a database and mailing list.
Sources - The directory which connects organizations with messages to get out to journalists looking for spokespeople and experts on the issues they are covering. Both the online and print versions of Sources are widely used by reporters, editors, producers and freelancers working on stories.
HotLink.ca - Web site featuring practical articles about media relations and public relations.
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