Marketing and your community group – Getting a community
Marketing and your community group – Getting a community service
Paid advertisements and news reports on your group or organisation's
activities are the best ways to get them into the media, but there is
another way which is also effective - Community Service Announcements
CSAs are short messages that promote a charitable cause, activity or
event that is considered of service to the community.
Many television and radio stations set aside time in which they
broadcast CSAs free of charge and a lot of newspapers, particularly
suburbans and regionals publish their version of CSAs in free community
round-ups, "what's on" columns or even as "filler" ads.
Preparing a community service announcement
While media outlets allow time for CSAs, making it easier for them to
air, broadcast or publish your announcement is a must.
Competition for CSA space can be fierce and your group may be battling
for time with other organisations much larger than yourself. Because of
this, your group wants to ensure that its CSA fits any criteria that the
media outlet has, and is short, sharp and clear to maximise its
Following are some guidelines to help prepare a CSA on radio,
television or in a newspaper.
Some of these guidelines will not be relevant for all three mediums. If
your group is in doubt about how it should present its CSA or community
notice, contact the media outlet you are targeting and get this
information before you prepare your information.
- Firstly, check with the media outlet about whether they run CSAs
and if so what the guidelines are.
- This ensures you don't waste time and provides you with further
information about how the media outlet prefers a CSA to be presented.
- Get more information.
- Find out how the radio station prefers its CSAs to be
submitted. Some may need you to pre-record the announcement
yourself before it can be aired, for others a typed script for a live
read on-air will suffice.
- For television, check with the network for its preferred format
– and what sort of broadcast-quality format is required.
- Get in early.
- Generally speaking, you should send in your announcement about
three weeks before the event. Some community radio stations may be able
to run your announcement at shorter notice, so contact them to check
- When writing or preparing copy for a CSA, double space it on
letterhead and leave ample margins on either side of the page.
- If you don't have letterhead, in the upper left corner, list
the name and contact details of your group.
- Label the item "Community Service Announcement" or attention it
to the "Community Calendar Editor" or "What's On Editor".
- Provide a release date for the announcement.
- Include the name of the event, name of sponsors, and a contact
name along with phone number and email address.
- Include the details.
- Who is holding the event.
- What sort of event is planned.
- When will it be held (date and times)
- Why the event is happening.
- Also include other relevant information – ticket prices, for
- Keep it short, sweet and clear.
- That means 50 words or less (sometimes 30 words or less) for a
newspaper item, or, for radio stick to 5, 10 or 20 second lengths.
- If writing for radio, write your CSAs with this word count in
- 5 seconds = about 12-15 words.
- For newspapers, keep it simple:
- Get your notice in early – it could then run in more than one
edition of the paper.
- Keep it short and sweet, and cover the basics – who, what,
when, where, why.
- If the item is to be "Live Copy" (read on-air), then type the
entire CSA in all upper case, to alert media personnel that the
announcement is for on-air use.
- Do not hyphenate words at the end of a line. Instead, put the
entire word on the next line. Copy for a CSA usually is more informal
than copy for a news release.
- At the bottom of each CSA, include a word count at the bottom
left-hand side of the page. For radio CSAs, include a word count and
time in seconds – for example: 15 words, 6 seconds.
- Keep any costs in mind.
- The airtime for your CSA may be free, but its production,
especially for a television CSA – may not be.
- You need to be realistic about the budget you have to produce
the announcement. Film and television production is very expensive, so
be sure you can afford it and can justify the cost.
- If you do choose to film your CSA, make sure it is:
- Of high enough quality to be broadcast, and
- Recorded in the right format for use by the television
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