Find an authentic audience for public service announcements

Help your students’ PSAs find their public

find an authentic audience for public service announcementsStudent-made PSAs are a great way for students to engage in project-based learning with real-world impact. Especially if they join up with community partners to tackle local issues.

But once the PSAs get made, how can you help them find an authentic audience?

Go on TV or the radio: it’s easier than you’d think.

Public, educational and government access television (known collectively as PEG) maintain public access television channels for content created by community members. Vermont actually has the highest number of PEG stations per capita in the country: 26 community access centers that sponsor 40 different television channels.

Here’s a PSA made entirely on an iPad, by students at Essex Middle School as part of a series they worked on with the Burlington-based community access television group RETN:

Find the access center in your community through this searchable map:

find an authentic audience for public service announcements

Turn on the radio

Partner with a local community radio station in crafting recorded and live PSAs to go out on air. Most community radio stations are required by the FCC to air a certain number of PSAs in order to keep their non-commercial licenses, and all of them can offer professional-quality recording facilities. Many stations accept online submission of PSAs, such as WVUD (University of Delaware), WUVT (Virginia Tech), KPFA (Berkeley & Fresno, CA)* and Vermont’s own WOOL.

WYTC-LP 89.1 might also be a great place to start for some advice: the station’s run entirely by Lamoille Union Middle and High School students.

Power up with community partners

Community organizations are proud to partner with students on PSAs, and promoting their message in the community will be part of their business plan. Don’t be shy about asking them to share your PSA broadly through both their conventional and online media channels.

Approach civic leaders

The Elks National Drug Partnership sponsors the Peers to Peers Partnership, helping more widely distribute student-made PSAs. That’s their whole jam!

The Vermont Department of Health sponsors an annual PSA contest around the theme of tick & Lyme Disease safety:

To enter, students in grades 9-12 submit a 60-second public service announcement (PSA) style video by May 1, 2015. This is a great opportunity for students to be creative while they learn about Lyme disease and educate others on the topic. The top three winners will receive prizes in the form of a gift card (up to $100), and the videos will be submitted to play on local television stations.

You can check out some of last year’s winners here.

Collaborate with other classes

find an authentic audience for public service announcements
Taylor, Jacquain and Brooklynde, 7th graders at Midtown Academy in Baltimore, Maryland.

7th graders at Baltimore Maryland’s Midtown Academy made a compelling series of audio PSAs tackling the issue of gun violence, such as this one by Taylor, Jacquain and Brooklynde. 

What about seeing if your class could pair up with theirs, compare community issues, and collaborate on PSAs? Or perhaps the two groups of students could provide feedback on each others’ work? What about swapping PSAs and publicizing each others work in very different communities?

Ask fellow educators to share

twitter remains one of the most powerful PLNs for educators out there, so don’t be afraid to share your student work (with permission, natch) and ask others to signal boost.


Share your students’ PSAs in the comments!

We’ll do our part to get their message out.


*While PSAs are most effective when they’re made locally, featuring local people and focusing on local issues, we have no idea where you beautiful people are all reading this from. Check your local listings for details.

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs. Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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