My Message FAQ

What is the My Message contest?

A teen video competition sponsored by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to raise awareness about behaviors that can carry negative lifelong consequences. Entrants create and submit a 25-second video Public Service Announcement (PSA) that addresses one of the following issues: illegal drug use, underage drinking, bullying, truancy, or prescription drug abuse.

What is a Public Service Announcement?

See this definition from Wikipedia or see previous winners.

Who is eligible?

Any resident of Maricopa County who is 13 to 18 years of age at time of entry.

Can groups enter the contest?

Groups, classes, youth organizations may collaborate on a submission, however the entry must be submitted by one individual acting as the agent of the group. Groups are only eligible to receive a single prize.

How many commercials can I submit?

Each individual entrant is allowed UP TO five (5) submissions.

What are the judging criteria?

Originality and Creativity
Clarity and Effectiveness of Message
Production Values

Where do I go to enter the contest?

Read and accept the contest rules and go to the video submission page. You may only submit videos during the contest entry period.

What do I need to submit?

A video file must be submitted. In order to qualify for the contest, the video file(s) must be exactly 25 seconds in length and comply with the OFFICIAL RULES.

What types of files can I submit?

QuickTime .MOV files for Mac users, and .AVI files for PC users. If you have questions about encoding, you can

    • Channels: Stereo (L R)
    • Rate: 48.00 kHz
    • 1080i
    • Codec: H.264 preferred
    • Wrapper: .MOV
    • Resolution: 1920X1080
    • Ratio: 16X9
    • Frame Mode: Interlaced Top Field First
    • Frame Rate: 29.97
  • 720p
    • Codec: H.264 preferred
    • Wrapper: .MOV
    • Resolution: 1080X720
    • Ratio: 16X9
    • Frame Mode: Progressive
    • Frame Rate: 59.94
  • 720i
    • Codec: H.264 preferred
    • Wrapper: .MOV
    • Resolution: 1080X720
    • Ratio: 16X9
    • Frame Mode: Interlaced Lower Field First
    • Frame Rate: 29.97
    • Channels: Stereo (L R)
    • Rate: 48.00 kHz
    • Codec: Mpeg-2 Video
    • Wrapper: .MOV
    • Method: 2 pass VBR
    • Data Rate: 7500 Kbps
    • Format: NTSC
    • Frame Size: 720X480
    • Frame Rate: 29.97
    • Ratio: 4X3
    • Frame Mode: Interlaced Lower Field First
What are the prizes and what happens if I win?

One entry will be selected to receive the MCAO Employees Choice award plaque. Five finalists will receive a $500 gift card. The Grand Prize Winner will receive an Apple MacBook® Pro. Finalists and Grand Prize Winner must be present at the awards ceremony to win.

When can I submit? What is the deadline?

The deadline for submissions is midnight Tuesday, November 12, 2013. Entries received outside of the submission period will not be eligible for the contest. You are encouraged not to wait until the last minute to submit due to large files and heavy traffic slowing upload times.

When will the winners be announced?

Twenty (20) semi-finalists will be notified on November 25, 2013, at which point internal office voting to name the “MCAO Employees’ Choice” award will begin. Voting for the five finalists and the grand prize winner will be during the awards ceremony on Wednesday, December 18, 2013.

Who will see my commercial?

The five finalist entries and Grand Prize winning entry will be broadcast on local TV outlets and featured on

Should I add end credits? (a.k.a. closing credits or credit roll)

The short answer is no. Your video must be 25 seconds long, not including credits. If you feel a need to include end credits, please add them after the 25 seconds of your video.

Have additional questions?

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for,

My Message Video Suggestions

Everyone wants to make the best video, so here to help you out are a couple of suggestions to get ahead of the competition…

Study the Official Rules

No one wants their submission to be disqualified due to breaking the rules, but it happens more often than you might think. It doesn’t matter how good your video is, if you break the rules, your entry won’t be in the running.

Be sure to heed the technical requirements, i.e. video format. If you must reduce the final quality to keep within the file size limits, be sure to state that you have a higher-quality version in the ‘Notes’ field of the submission form.

You may be able to find ways to help you win by studying the rules and by thinking about what the judges are looking for. Imagine yourself in the place of a judge.

Stick to the deadline & duration limit

Make sure to complete the entry form and submit your video on time. By missing the deadline, all your hard work will be for nothing. No amount of begging and pleading will get your video considered. You can avoid this missed opportunity by making sure your video is done early and never assume that your post-production will go as quickly as you imagine.

As for the duration of your video, stick to the limit or don’t enter it.

The Video Content

Make sure that your video presents a single, focused message. Don’t attempt to cover multiple topics; doing so will dilute your message.

There’s also plenty of public domain footage that may be found on the internet for you to use. Don’t forget that still photos can help to fill time and add subject matter that can be difficult to get on video.

Adhere to copyright! Only use video or audio that you have proper rights or permissions to use. Also, try to stay away from copyrighted print material (e.g. soft drink, beer, and alcohol labels; posters) that may have to be blurred out by the Sponsor.

Important Rules

Official Rules

May seem like legalese, but you’ll want to read this before you start! Get all the specifications that could disqualify your video.

Learn More

Winning Entries

Winning Entries

See what previous winners have done. Can you out do them?

View Now

Video Submission

Video Submission

Opening October 11, 2013

Submit Your Video