Public Service Announcement Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

A Public Service Annoucement (PSA) is designed to inform the public. Today your students will study a text lesson, take a related quiz, and take part in an interesting hands-on activity to reinforce new concepts about PSAs.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson on Public Service Announcements, your students will be able to:

  • Describe how a PSA differs from a standard television advertisement
  • Explain the general content of several types of Public Service Announcements
  • Recap the history of PSAs and why they are no longer commonly seen


1 - 1.5 Hours


Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic.


  • Let your students know they are going to be studying Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
  • Ask your students if they know what they are, or if they can remember some they have seen in the past.
  • Pass out copies of the text lesson Public Service Announcement (PSA): Definition, Purpose & Guidelines.
  • Read the introduction and the first section 'Drinking and Driving.'
    • What is the purpose of a Public Service Announcement?
    • After watching it online, how would you summarize the PSA about drinking and driving?
    • According to the Ad Council, what did the PSA accomplish?
    • Also, after watching it online, how would you summarize the PSA about people using drugs?
  • Next, read the section 'What is a Public Service Announcement?'
    • How does a PSA differ from a television commercial?
    • What are four topics to which a PSA might attempt to bring awareness?
    • Who produces and releases PSAs, and are they for profit?
    • When did PSAs come into prominence, and what was their original purpose?
    • Do PSAs attempt to work on human logic or human emotion?
    • What are five examples of PSA advertising?
    • What factors have resulted in the decline in PSAs being seen by the general public?
  • Now read the section 'PSA Guidelines.'
    • Must PSAs follow traditional advertising guidelines?
    • What are the three main guidelines that PSAs must follow?
  • Lastly, read the section titled 'Lesson Summary', recap the lesson on PSAs in its entirety, and have your students take the lesson quiz to determine their grasp of PSA concepts.

Discussion Questions and Activity

Discussion Questions

Some questions you could ask your students include the following:

  • Do you think PSAs really work, or do people for the most part ignore them?
  • Do you think the Ad Council has the right to try to change your mind about an issue?
  • Do you think PSAs will ever be as popular again as they were in the 1980s and previous decades?
  • Do you think radio PSAs were more or less effective than television PSAs? Why or why not?
  • Do you have a feeling the Internet will one day be loaded with nonstop PSAs?
  • Some people feel PSAs are a form of spam. Do you agree?


  • Inform your students they are going to be creating their very own Public Service Announcements complete with corresponding informational posters.

Part 1

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