I’ve been thinking quite a bit about PSAs, lately. I even wrote a training guide on them! All the reasons why they’re important: the logistics of maintaining a good contact list…the content of the on-air notices, that sort of thing. But then, I started thinking about the people the PSAs are for.
A couple of months back, I heard on the news that there was severe flooding in the south of Thailand. Then I heard about a group of radio stations where I’ve done training in the past. They banded together to provide relief to people suffering from the floods. All in all, they delivered more than 2,000 food packages to people who were affected by the rising waters—one station even got a boat and took food (and clean drinking water) to people who were completely cut off! Another provided cleaning supplies to help folks recover after the water receded.
That takes Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to the next level…from an Announcement, to an actual Public Service. And that, my friends, is what community radio is all about. Even if your licence is not “community,” helping people in times of need is a great way to be out there in the neighbourhood, showing your station’s brand and creating goodwill amongst potential and actual listeners.
But don’t make it just a marketing exercise: make it a relationship. As a radio presenter, we represent our station. But we also represent the station’s values—and our own values as people. The more our listeners and our community see us as real humans (people with flesh on, not just zeros and ones on the airwaves), the more they will connect with us…and the longer they’ll listen. And you know what? That relationship also does a lot of good for us as presenters; it focuses our minds and hearts in the real world, not the world of playlists and news-feeds.
Public Service Announcements are great…but Public Service is even better!