Time For Texting PSA?

The shroud of  the “dark side” of text messaging threatens to fall.

This month, a commuter train wreck in Los Angeles that killed 25 and injured 135 may have happened because the operator was sending SMS messages while at the wheel. In July, the American College of Emergency Physicians Foundation announced an official warning against texting while driving, bicycling, walking, and other activities–saying they’d noticed “a rise in injuries and deaths related to sending texts at inappropriate times.”

Marketers at the forefront of their game have long known–and helped spread the word–about SMS best practices. These, however, are applicable to preventing unwanted and potentially expensive texts from being sent without the recipient’s permission.

But since savvy marketers already know more than the average person about the ins, outs, and ever-increasing popularity of texting, they could put their knowledge to the greater good. Know how the Ad Council creates those anti-drugs, stay-in-school, and other public service announcements? Mobile marketing organizations might want to do the same thing.

There are a few reasons why a texting PSA might be worth marketers’ time and effort.

First, it’s damage control. News about death and injuries related to inappropriate texting are only going to bolster anti-SMS people– that is, reluctant marketers as well as consumers who are avoiding the technology. Anything to show that most SMS usage is done responsibly can only help against current negative publicity.

Second, mobile and other digital marketers can use a PSA campaign to illustrate how SMS works in a multi-channel campaign. For example, it could come up with a compelling billboard or TV ad–maybe a celebrity who asks people to send a keyword to a short code. When consumers do so, they could receive a reply, signed by the celebrity, that says something like, “If u r reading this & driving, STOP! Save texting 4Â l8r. Tell ur friends!”

Or something like that. I’ll admit, I’m no “mad man”–if you have any better ideas, please share!

MMA, DMA, are you listening?