From promoting art awareness to preventing drunk driving, the Ad Council has been creating public service advertisements designed to elicit positive social change since 1942. The Ad Council recently introduced five new public service campaigns (see Sidebar for details), and web site managers are encouraged to support these campaigns by posting banners, streaming media spots or public service ad content on their web sites. “Through your efforts, public service messages can reach online audiences in your community and across the nation,” urges the Ad Council. Why deliver public service advertising (PSAs) on your web site?
|? because public service ads promote positive social change – often in the form of citizen involvement – they may well have a place on municipal web sites.|
Jenina Estella, Interactive Media Manager for the Ad Council, says that public service ads are designed to stimulate social change by:
- helping non-profits leverage mass media and the power of communication;
- inciting attitude and behavior change (in lieu of a sale); and
- using the power of advertising to positively alter societal problems. Public service advertisements provide an opportunity to lend support to programs designed for the good of all citizens – without any monetary exchange. Do public service ads belong on municipal web sites?
Through your efforts, public service messages can reach online audiences in your community and across the nation. Ad Council
Advertisements of any sort are not standard fare on official city or county government web sites. But because public service ads promote positive social change – often in the form of citizen involvement – they may well have a place on municipal web sites.
John Quirk, Telecommunications Coordinator for the City of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, says that he would post a public service ad on the city’s web site, but only if it corresponded to some issue or event in the community. “Because we consider the web site an electronic extension of City Hall, it reflects what we do in our various departments. If a department was supporting a specific program and a PSA was available for it, I would use it on the site,” he explains.
“One of our goals with the site has been to encourage voting, so I would not have hesitated to run an Ad Council PSA that encouraged voting if I had found one that met our needs.”
The Ad Council recently released five new public service campaigns. They are: Get Green – offers environmental tips for cleaner air and water, greater energy security and healthier oceans
Read and Rise – provides age-specific strategies to support children’s reading habits from early on
Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America – supports and advances this youth mentoring program
Afterschool Alliance – promotes the importance of after-school programs
Operation Graduation – encourages students to complete their high school education
For details on these and many other Ad Council public service advertisements, visit the Campaigns section of the Ad Council’s web site.
Bill Finnerty, Chief Information Management and Technology Officer for Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, agrees. “Public service ads would be appropriate for our site when related to services that we offer,” he says. An ad for Big Brothers/Big Sisters program might be suitable for the Children & Youth Service’s page, for example.
In Hampton, Virginia, web policy states that the web site will link to other organizations “provided that they have a business relationship with the city,” according to John Eagle, Director of Information Technology.
Approval to include a PSA on a government web site does not appear to be required in all cases. For every web administrator who told us that they would need approval from a council, board or chief administrator before posting a public service ad, there was another who said that they would be free to do so without any formal authorization. PSA Pioneer The Ad Council is a non-profit organization that has endeavored to improve the lives of all Americans since first creating the category of public service advertising in 1942, according to Estella. Its ads are designed to raise awareness of social issues, inspire action, and save lives.
“Based on our long history of effecting positive change, it’s fair to say that Ad Council campaigns have inspired several generations of Americans. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that future generations will reap the benefits of our efforts to date, and continue to be inspired by our public service campaigns in the future.”