Question of the Week

December 17, 2007


For those students about to have a couple weeks off with nothing to do, we have a project for you!

From time to time, the "Questions of the Week" include a question about what you think would be the best way to inform your friends and peers about the topic addressed. You and your friends are the target audience, and you know your peers.

So, we are asking for students to create Public Service Announcements about any of the past "Questions of the Week" that have been addressed over the years (read on for more details). If you are looking for topic ideas, links to previous questions can be found at:

Many Public Service Announcements (PSAs) are produced by the Ad Council each year.

"The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization that marshals volunteer talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to deliver critical messages to the American public. The Ad Council produces, distributes and promotes thousands of public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventative health, education, community well being, environmental preservation and strengthening families."

In order to be considered for an Ad Council PSA, some criteria include:

"The issue should be of sufficient seriousness and public importance to warrant donations of space and time by the media.

  • The issue must address the Ad Council's focus on Health & Safety, Education, or Community. ...
  • The issue must offer a solution through an individual action.
  • The effort must be national in scope, so that the message has relevance to media audiences in communities throughout the nation.
  • The effort should be such that advertising can help achieve its objectives and those objectives can be measured.
  • The issue must be non-commercial, non-denominational, non-partisan, and not be designated to influence legislation. ..."

Current PSA campaigns (as of December 2007) are available on the Ad Council website:

When looking for ideas, you can also find examples of PSAs currently being run by the Red Cross at:

It is also important to keep in mind your audience:

"On July 15, 1998, New York Times columnist Frank Rich ridiculed an ad aired as part of a $200 million federal effort to minimize adolescents' use of illegal drugs. ... The problem with critiques such as Rich's is that middle-aged, upper-class, White columnists were not the intended audience for the ad. Nonetheless, later in the column, he makes an important assumption, and one we [Martin Fishbein,PhD,Kathleen Hall-Jamieson,PhD,Eric Zimmer,PhD,Ina von Haeften,PhD,and Robin Nabi,PhD] share. Such ads should be tested rigorously before being aired."

What would be the best way to get other teens to want to watch the message, and still make a point of including the key information that viewers need to understand?

"Although there is some evidence that mass media campaigns can be successful, most studies evaluating mass media campaigns have found little or no effect. To a large extent, this failure has been attributed to the fact that most health promotion campaigns have been underfunded, limiting the reach and frequency of the messages. ... While exposure is clearly a critical element in the success of any media campaign, one must also pay careful attention to the content of the message. ... Although these studies have typically not relied on mass media to deliver the message, they do provide evidence that theoretically based messages addressing the beliefs and values of a specific population can significantly change behavior."

So, here are the details:

  • Choose a topic covered by a previous "Question of the Week" (see the link to archived "Questions" at the beginning of this email).
  • Create a Public Service Announcement that you think would appeal to your peers (approximately 30 seconds - 1 minute).
  • Post what you create on, and send me a link with the subject line: QOW PSA Contest before January 31, 2008.
  • Winners will receive recognition for themselves and their school on our website, a link to their youtube video from our website, and written recognition from Access Excellence at the National Health Museum mailed to them at their school.
  • If you have any questions, please email with the subject line: QOW PSA Contest

Questions to think about as you begin:
Why is this topic important? How is this approach unique? Is this an appropriate way to convey this information? How will this presentation method reach my peers? Do I have permission to use the images of all who appear in the video?

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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