The Effect of PSA’s

As we progress further into a future that is seemingly more and more pessimistic, we may wonder what steps should be taken to resolve many of the social issues we currently face. One of the most significant social ills is the vast deficit that the United States now possesses. While many public figures and our social peers may disagree as to the cause of the accrued debt, there seems be even more disagreement on the proposed resolution to this crisis.

I believe that a Public Service Announcement in the form of an ad campaign is the most effective way to cater to public perception. Furthermore, I believe that the most productive method in resolving our current debt is to shave the military budget and utilize the resulting capital to invest in other programs or to simply put toward reducing our +$16 trillion deficit. By combining these two ideas, I may be able to construct an influential argument that can sway the public and promote support.

Before beginning my personal project, it is an effective practice to observe other Public Service Announcements and how effective they are in influencing ideas. Some of which are:

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGE8LzRaySk; PSA against texting and driving

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWQgktBR6-w; PSA against smoking

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-Elr5K2Vuo; PSA against drug use

There are multiple reasons why Public Service Announcements are so effective in promoting ideas and social expectations. While different PSA’s cater to different ideas, they all seem to follow a general guideline that constructs a valid argument and proposes a suggestion to respond to the issue at hand.

Public Service Announcements follow a formula that allow them to convey their point. They present suggestive and often disturbing images that are meant to catch the public’s attention, often relating to the issue (such as a ‘negative’ behavior), and the provide a possible solution to combat this ‘social ill’. This style of ‘shocking’ the audience is what separates a PSA from other social statement media. While other media may use humor or suggestive images, PSA’s combine video, music and a message to bring forth an influential message.

The three examples that have been provided all have different ways in approaching their intended messages. All three use the rhetorical proofs, ethos, pathos and logos to convey this message. Their use of logic to present a valid argument, credibility to draw on well-known sources and emotional appeal all combine to build an effective statement.

The first link deals with a campaign against texting and driving. This video approaches logos by displaying a group of teenage girls who become involved in a serious car accident due to texting while driving. This is how they approach their argument, by showing the consequences of texting and driving. The video draws on ethos by displaying images of teenage girls, who present a relevant group based on the audience they are attempting to influence. This PSA largely draws on pathos by showing fearful images that are meant to scare the audience into ceasing their behavior.

The second link is an anti-smoking campaign which uses Star Wars and humor to build their message. They construct their argument with logos by showing R2-D2 being scolded for smoking and C3PO informing him of the harmful effects of smoking. This PSA draws on ethos by using the widely popular Star Wars franchise to influence their audience. The video further uses pathos by making the viewer feel guilty for smoking or to prevent a non-smoker from starting.

The third link is a classic Public Service Announcement from the 1980’s. This video shows a father with a box of illicit drugs that he found belonging to his son. The father asks his son where he learned of drug use and the child responds ‘I learned it by watching you!’. This PSA draws on logos by showing the consequences of using drugs around your children. Ethos is used by images of the pop culture of that time, which were added to establish credibility for the audience in the ’80s. Pathos is emphasized by the shocking remark of the son and the emotional impact on the father, which is meant to prevent parents from using drugs around their children.

All three videos use different styles to approach the same intended consequence: influencing social change. It is in this way, using the same general PSA formula, that I will use in creating my own social statement.

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