You may have seen PSAs featuring TODAY show anchors on NBC in February, a part of the new “Today Takes Action” initiative. The PSAs should also now be airing on NBC stations around the country. The spots are well-produced and the creative concepts are clever in the way they incorporate the TODAY anchors. Check out this one featuring Matt Lauer for the Fatherhood Initiative.
I’m sure the visibility that the TODAY show brings to all of the nonprofits featured, as it’s the most-watched morning news show on air, will translate into more involvement, donations and awareness. The magic and power of the TODAY show PSA highlights a media-partnership that most nonprofits think is unattainable. But, with strong network contacts and a plan for partnership, it is a possibility. (More about that later.)
Almost every network has a commitment to use their airwaves for good. Most employ a combination of a commitment to air pre-produced PSAs, incorporating cause-related messaging into their programming, and producing their own PSAs that feature their own talent. Often, it goes even farther. During this past Superbowl, CBS Cares (the heart of CBS’s public service commitment) teamed up with the NFL to honor our military and their families by running a PSA. The PSA also included a request to the 100 million+ viewers watching the game to show their appreciation by texting “WWP” to 50555 to donate $10 to Wounded Warrior Project. Normally, a nonprofit can’t ask for money during a PSA, but in this case, CBS produced the PSA and ran it on their own time, so there were no rules.
NBC’s public service commitment is well-known through their “The More You Know” campaign. Starting in 1989 and running through today, the little “jingle” at the end of the spot with the flying star is very recognizable. (At least to those of us who lived through the 80’s!) Check out this throwback spot featuring Stone Phillips in 1994.
ABC Network has named their public service program “A Better Community.” They re-launched this initiative in 2006 with a focusing on inspiring people to make a difference in their communities through volunteerism. It still airs today with the same focus.
While these network partnerships take time to nurture and put together, here are a few tips that can get you off to a good start.
1. Conduct research on who you’d be pitching. What is their title? What is their professional history? The more you know about your “audience” the more you can tailor your pitch. And at a minimum, find your common ground and things to bond through.
2. Make sure you know who they’ve partnered with before and the types of things they’ve done. Example: Text to donate appeals, website-takeovers, etc.
3. Once you know their partnership history, create your own pitch/proposal with specific ideas. It will be easier for them to get interested if you’ve already thought through how your partnership would look like.