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Old 05-18-2018, 07:20 AM
boffking boffking is offline
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How effective are public service announcements?

Every year around this time, I hear wall-to-wall messages on the radio encouraging drivers to watch out for motorcycles. Do most people take these messages to heart, or just ignore them as background noise? Are there any statistics about it?
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:28 AM
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Jasmine Jasmine is offline
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Well, my village texts and emails important announcements and, just a week or so ago, they proved VERY useful to me. There was brush fire started by sparks from a passing train in the vegetation that runs along the railroad tracks that run about a quarter of a mile away from me. There was a strong wind and, for a while, it was out of control. They evacuated the apartments immediately opposite the fire because it actually reached the parking lot and melted a couple of cars. I kept close track of the ongoing alerts, which allowed me to track the fire. Had it reached that first line of apartments and used them for fuel, it might have become a threat to eventually reach my area. I would have then left work and gone home. Fires blown by strong winds can move amazingly fast.
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:52 AM
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engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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Public service announcements in general vary quite a bit in effectiveness. Numerous PSAs about not looking at the sun directly during the last eclipse seemed to get the point across. There were very few eye injuries reported as a result of the eclipse. On the other hand, PSAs designed to reduce alcohol and drug use have largely been ineffective, with the exception of large scale PSA campaigns designed to reduce drunk driving, which have been somewhat effective.

New York put out a lot of PSAs to try to reduce smoking, and smoking was reduced, but there's some debate about whether it was the PSA campaign that was effective or if it was the extra taxes that they put on cigarettes that forced some users to quit just because they could no longer afford to feed their habit.

Poking around on google, I couldn't find any statistics related to PSAs and motorcycles. I haven't seen or heard any PSAs on that topic around here. As a motorcycle rider, I'm glad they are doing them, but I suspect that they are going to be fairly limited in effect.

The main problem people have with motorcycles is that they aren't cars, and people have a natural tendency to only look for other cars or large vehicles like trucks when they are driving. Their brains tend to naturally ignore motorcycles and bicycles because those aren't cars. I have had people look right at me and then pull out right in front of me as if they didn't see me. Their eyes saw me, but their brains didn't register the motorcycle as something that they needed to be concerned with, so they ignored me. I have been fortunate that no one has yet turned left in front of me while I had the right of way, but that is a very common cause of motorcycle accidents. The car driver is looking for cars, doesn't see any, and turns left. The motorcycle can't stop in time or turn fast enough out of the way, and whammo.

A generic PSA to watch out for motorcycles probably isn't going to go into enough depth on this, and the PSA isn't likely to be very effective, IMHO. If you tell people that they need to try to retrain their brains to notice motorcycles, that might get the point across, but if you just tell people to watch for motorcycles, they are probably going to think that they are already doing that well enough, and won't realize that they might not be.
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:53 AM
Lucas Jackson Lucas Jackson is offline
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How effective are public service announcements?

Well, they kept Kieth Richards out jail.
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Old 05-18-2018, 08:38 PM
Tim@T-Bonham.net Tim@T-Bonham.net is offline
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They are effective for station owners.

They count toward the stations' legal requirement to provide 'public services', but actually cost the station owner nothing.

- They cost nothing to produce, since they are provided free by organizations & governments.
- They cost nothing to broadcast, since they are used to fill unsold commercial time slots. (Possibly the station can even count the value of the commercial time as a contribution to the organization, and deduct it from their taxes.)
- They generate good feelings for the station in the area, which is always helpful when broadcast license renewal time comes around. Sometimes the owner/manager is invited to a fancy dinner & given a Certificate of Recognition or something like that. Or VIP tickets to a local event.
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:24 PM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is offline
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At least some of them stick in the minds of the public. "Only you can prevent forest fires" and "Keep America Beautiful" with the crying native american are the ones that jump out at me.

Speaking of which, I've read that the "Keep America Beautiful" campaign was partially an attempt to create a sense of public shame at littering, at a time when disposable everything was becoming a thing. So instead of it being a packaging issue (disposable instead of reusable), it was our fault for throwing it all away.
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:27 PM
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ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
Well, my village texts and emails important announcements and, just a week or so ago, they proved VERY useful to me. There was brush fire started by sparks from a passing train in the vegetation that runs along the railroad tracks that run about a quarter of a mile away from me. There was a strong wind and, for a while, it was out of control. They evacuated the apartments immediately opposite the fire because it actually reached the parking lot and melted a couple of cars. I kept close track of the ongoing alerts, which allowed me to track the fire. Had it reached that first line of apartments and used them for fuel, it might have become a threat to eventually reach my area. I would have then left work and gone home. Fires blown by strong winds can move amazingly fast.
I don't think that's the sort of public announcement the OP is talking about. They're talking about, like "Click It or Ticket" reminders to wear yourseatbelt, "This is your brain on drugs" and "Only you can prevent forest fires" type stuff. Not emergency notifications.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:23 PM
Tim@T-Bonham.net Tim@T-Bonham.net is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tastes of Chocolate View Post
Speaking of which, I've read that the "Keep America Beautiful" campaign was partially an attempt to create a sense of public shame at littering, at a time when disposable everything was becoming a thing. So instead of it being a packaging issue (disposable instead of reusable), it was our fault for throwing it all away.
Yes, and that was the point of it -- to make viewers blame people who littered, and deflect proposed government rules on the producers of that litter (mainly beverage containers (glass bottles & aluminum cans).) Measures to prevent litter at its' source, like deposits on beverage containers and recycling bottles & cans were growing at that time, and the founders of this organization (Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing, Coke & Pepsi) wished to prevent such government regulation, so they used this campaign to deflect blame from themselves to the users of their products.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:30 PM
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Old 05-19-2018, 12:34 AM
jtur88 jtur88 is offline
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Anti-littering messages were amazingly effective. The introduction of the "Don't be a Litterbug" campaign turned American from a roadside garbage dump to a showplace. Texas was one of the worst littered states, and got turned around with the "Don't Mess with Texas" promotion.

I think nearlyh all of this was done through unpaid public service ads.

Reducing drinking/driving was, I think, nearly all done with PSAs.

Last edited by jtur88; 05-19-2018 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 05-19-2018, 02:58 AM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is online now
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The viral marketing PSA Dumb Ways to Die was ... probably a bit successful in actually keeping people safe around trains. Very very successful at being famous though.

The slightly more low-key Beware Rhino campaign that preceded it was similarly, probably somewhat successful.

What both of these had in common was that they were genuinely funny, which is a hard aspect to consistently reproduce. Certainly I've seen many many 'trying to be cool' PSAs which just make me shake my head, cringe, and wonder if the creators have ever actually interacted with humans.
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