Tips for Getting Your PSA in Play

Getting Your PSA in Play

When making media contacts to promote placement of your PSA, here are a few DOs and DON'Ts to keep in mind from Bill Goodwill, an expert on PSA distribution.


  • Do Understand the Media Mindset. For the most part, the media are not interested in organ donation, but they are interested in how donation relates to their audience. Local media use PSAs and other forms of community outreach to increase their audience, the lifeblood of any media property.

  • Do Make an Appointment. Try to meet with your media representative or public service director. promise to keep your meeting brief, 15 to 20 minutes max.

  • Do Be Prepared/Know Your Issue Cold. Have all the facts and information at hand -- data, news articles, opinion surveys -- anything that can help you sell the media on how important organ, eye, and tissue donation is, especially for their audience. Prepare a brief fact sheet to use as talking points in your discussions. That fact sheet is a great thing just to have.

  • Do Learn What They Want. To partner successfully with an organization, learn as much as you can about them. Know their coverage area and the kinds of stories they air or print. For example, if you have materials designed for minority audiences that match their audience, be sure to mention that.

  • Do Share Your Creative Materials. For print, have your ads available. For TV or radio, there's nothing like playing your PSA. Either have them loaded on your laptop or be able to direct your rep to YouTube or another site where they can watch the PSA. Not possible? At a minimum, have a storyboard or a script that you can leave behind.
    • Some radio stations may not use recorded PSAs. For these, you can provide live announcer scripts. Many radio stations like scripts because they can co-brand the PSAs with their station name.

  • Do Check the Call to Action. Test any toll-free phone numbers. Make sure website addresses on your materials are correction, functional, and user-friendly.

  • Do Build Credibility. If you are a non-profit and not very well known, build credibility for your organization by being listed in the Better Business Bureau's National Charities Information Bureau. Also have a copy of your IRS 501(c)(3) certificate, which shows you represent a legitimate non-profit organization.

  • Do Share Success Stories. People in media like to know they are making a difference in their communities. Share any success stories from your PSA campaign in terms of the impact they have made, especially locally.

  • Do Build a Partnership. If an organization can't offer PSA support, perhaps they can help in other ways -- through news stories, on-air promos, editorials, or remote broadcasts. They may be able to help frame outreach strategies, offer production assistance, or introduce you to people on the editorial side of their operations.

  • Do Remember to Say "Thank you." A hand-written note goes a long way. So does recognition. Send a note to people you meet with. If they use your PSAs, have your CEO or a senior member of management send a thank you letter to the General Manager with a copy to the public service director.
    • If they give you a lot of media support, think about a special plaque or certificate of appreciation. Present this with a photographer available so they can use the picture as part of their publicity efforts.

A Few Don'ts

  • Don't Be a Nuisance. Don't keep calling the media to ask when your PSA will appear on air or in print. Since PSAs are placed on a "time/space available" basis, over which there is no control, the media person can't give you any guarantees about usage. Many media people regard their calls as a nuisance, and it could turn them against using your messages.

  • Don't Try to Force Meetings with Media. People in media are very busy and if they can't see you personally, contact them in writing, and try one or two follow-up phone calls to set up a personal meeting.

  • Don't Expect the Media to Do Your Work for You. Provide materials that are ready to use. Do the work for the media and you'll increase your chances of getting your materials on the air or in print.

  • Don't Take the Media for Granted. They do not have to use your PSAs. It is your job to encourage their use through creative promotional techniques.

  • Finally, DON'T FORGET TO LET US KNOW how we can help. If you have questions about our organ donation PSAs and other materials, contact
Real Stories of Donation


Amalia: Heart Recipient

"If not for her heart transplant, Amalia would have missed watching her family grow up….”

Read Amalia's full story >