December 17, 2007
For those students about to have a couple weeks off with
nothing to do, we have a project for you!
From time to time, the "Questions of the Week" include a
question about what you think would be the best way to
inform your friends and peers about the topic addressed.
You and your friends are the target audience, and you know
So, we are asking for students to create Public Service
Announcements about any of the past "Questions of the Week"
that have been addressed over the years (read on for more
details). If you are looking for topic ideas, links to
previous questions can be found at:
Many Public Service Announcements (PSAs) are produced by
the Ad Council each year.
"The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization that
marshals volunteer talent from the advertising and
communications industries, the facilities of the media, and
the resources of the business and non-profit communities to
deliver critical messages to the American public. The Ad
Council produces, distributes and promotes thousands of
public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit
organizations and government agencies in issue areas such
as improving the quality of life for children, preventative
health, education, community well being, environmental
preservation and strengthening families."
In order to be considered for an Ad Council PSA, some
"The issue should be of sufficient seriousness and public
importance to warrant donations of space and time by the
- The issue must address the Ad Council's focus on Health &
Safety, Education, or Community. ...
- The issue must offer a solution through an individual
- The effort must be national in scope, so that the message
has relevance to media audiences in communities throughout
- The effort should be such that advertising can help
achieve its objectives and those objectives can be
- The issue must be non-commercial, non-denominational,
non-partisan, and not be designated to influence
Current PSA campaigns (as of December 2007) are available
on the Ad Council website:
When looking for ideas, you can also find examples of PSAs
currently being run by the Red Cross at:
It is also important to keep in mind your audience:
"On July 15, 1998, New York Times columnist Frank Rich
ridiculed an ad aired as part of a $200 million federal
effort to minimize adolescents' use of illegal drugs. ...
The problem with critiques such as Rich's is that
middle-aged, upper-class, White columnists were not the
intended audience for the ad. Nonetheless, later in the
column, he makes an important assumption, and one we
[Martin Fishbein,PhD,Kathleen Hall-Jamieson,PhD,Eric
Zimmer,PhD,Ina von Haeften,PhD,and Robin Nabi,PhD] share.
Such ads should be tested rigorously before being aired."
What would be the best way to get other teens to want to
watch the message, and still make a point of including the
key information that viewers need to understand?
"Although there is some evidence that mass media campaigns
can be successful, most studies evaluating mass media
campaigns have found little or no effect. To a large
extent, this failure has been attributed to the fact that
most health promotion campaigns have been underfunded,
limiting the reach and frequency of the messages. ... While
exposure is clearly a critical element in the success of
any media campaign, one must also pay careful attention to
the content of the message. ... Although these studies have
typically not relied on mass media to deliver the message,
they do provide evidence that theoretically based messages
addressing the beliefs and values of a specific population
can significantly change behavior."
So, here are the details:
- Choose a topic covered by a previous "Question of the
Week" (see the link to archived "Questions" at the
beginning of this email).
- Create a Public Service Announcement that you think would
appeal to your peers (approximately 30 seconds - 1 minute).
- Post what you create on youtube.com, and send me a link
with the subject line: QOW PSA Contest before January 31,
- Winners will receive recognition for themselves and their
school on our website, a link to their youtube video from
our website, and written recognition from Access Excellence
at the National Health Museum mailed to them at their
- If you have any questions, please email
firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: QOW PSA Contest
Questions to think about as you begin:
Why is this topic important? How is this approach unique?
Is this an appropriate way to convey this information? How
will this presentation method reach my peers? Do I have
permission to use the images of all who appear in the
I look forward to reading what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum