Watch this charming animated PSA for the El Paso Streetcar, voiced by our daughter Alisa Amador. Produced by Pilgrim Animation
Producers of public service announcements (PSAs) for the Hispanic market know that skilled bilingual voiceover talent is a powerful weapon in their arsenal when it comes to creating PSAs that resonate with their intended audienc
ABCs of PSAs
PSAs are used to inform the general public and promote government programs, services, or activities or those of non-profit organizations. To be effective, they need to engage the audience with a relatable message and delivery.
Over the years, Rosi and I have had the honor of voicing bilingual PSAs for causes that we wholeheartedly support. We recorded English and Spanish versions of the “Ask MOVA” spots, produced for the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance. These PSAs were created to inform survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing of the services available to them.
Working with ChavoBart Digital Media, our whole family recorded the environmentally themed PSA “La Familia Verde/The Verde Family”. And in the wake of Hurricane María, Amador Bilingual Voiceovers partnered with MORE Advertising to create PSAs for the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund. We produced and voiced the spots, in addition to providing original music.
What Makes a Great PSA Voiceover?
Whether targeting the Hispanic population or a general market, producers who create powerful calls to action are looking for a specific skill set from voiceover talent. Being able to meet this need has allowed us to put our voices to work where they are most useful.
Here are some important qualities to look for in bilingual voice talent for PSAs:
1. Perfect command of both English and neutral Latin American Spanish.
Often the same campaign will be produced for both English- and Spanish-speaking media. Having voice actors who can speak both languages can streamline the process and save the producer money. Neutral Latin American Spanish, which avoids regional dialects and accents, is useful in reaching Spanish-speaking audiences of all backgrounds.
You can learn more about neutral Latin American Spanish in this post from our archive.
2. Ability to offer varying degrees of Hispanic-accented English.
Like advertising, PSAs are often most effective when the listener feels an affinity with the person talking. In Hispanic markets, this means there’s a demand for Hispanic-accented English. Finding the right degree of accent can be a challenge, and for that purpose we created The Revolutionary Accent-O-Meter.
3. Experience and an ability to take direction quickly and accurately.
The goal of many PSAs is to make an emotional appeal to the listener. To do that successfully, the voice actor has to be able to take direction, and to offer different interpretations of the same copy.
4. An understanding of the PSA’s purpose and the ability to convey it powerfully and emotionally.
Voice acting is acting. And acting depends on the ability to analyze the script and interepret it through the lens of one’s own experiences. This is a skill developed over time, and it’s painfully obvious when it’s lacking.
5. A topnotch recording studio that can deliver consistently good audio.
While many PSA producers choose to work in commercial studios, a professional quality home studio can save money and streamline the creative process. Internet-based audio platforms offer producers the ability to hear and direct the voice talent, or even to record remotely. Some of the most popular are ip-DTL, Session Link Pro, and Source-Connect.
6. BONUS! Music
The capacity to add an audience-appropriate original music bed and to fully produce the spots. This can save the producer time and money and enhance the consistency of the spot.
7. EXTRA BONUS! Translation and Script Supervision
The best way to create a PSA targeted to a Spanish-speaking audience is to create it from scratch in Spanish. But that’s not always possible. If a producer wants to create a Spanish spot based on preexisting English copy, it’s vital that the translation be accurate, idiomatic, and culturally relevant. It’s no exaggeration to say that a bad translation can ruin a PSA. We’re often called upon to translate spots or to tweak them so the Spanish sounds more natural.