VIDEO FOR THE PUBLIC IN A DIGITAL WORLD

This has been an exciting few months for video. Last month we talked about the power of video to bring about revolution and change in the Middle East. Today I want to focus on the power of video when it comes to Public Service Announcements. Public Service Announcements don’t have to be the boring clips that keep you from whatever TV show you wanted to watch. They can actually be, you know, engaging and informative!

To illustrate these points I want to direct you to seven 30-second PSAs I did for CERT. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. The basic idea of CERT is that when a major
disaster strikes, professional emergency workers will not be able to handle the demand or make it to your emergency in a timely manner. With CERT, if the community volunteers are trained, then they can help save lives, especially in disasters with no warnings like an Earthquake. A major component of the training is to raise “situational awareness” and work in teams of two in order to avoid becoming another victim while trying to help others. In other words, don’t touch that wire lying on the ground as it may be “hot” and could kill you; don’t immediately run into a partially-collapsed building to search for victims since it could further collapse and, again, kill the CERT volunteer.

I am such a fan of CERT and have seen how the program worked first-hand during the annual Malibu fire season that I wanted to do these PSAs for free and make them sort of “home-spun”. Since we only had 30 seconds running time, we wanted to focus on just one

idea per PSA and really get that across to the viewer. We covered topics such as packing your emergency kit, how to safely turn of your home’s gas supply, and proper way to use a fire extinguisher. At the end of each spot, we gave contact info for how citizens can get involved. We found that by putting the viewer into that “emergency situation” through the power of video, we had great results with people wanting to be prepared.

With the reach of digital video distribution, I feel that the PSA is more important than ever. That’s why I have transferred all my old ones and put them up on YouTube so we are not just limited to whoever happens to be watching TV that day, but to anybody in the whole world! Instead of interrupting your favorite program, the future of PSAs will be informing your favorite website or on-line video programming or search results. The key is to make them quick, to the point, and interesting, just like video has always been. Same as it ever was!

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