Editors note: This is a guest post by Danielle Carrig, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at A&E Television Networks, home of Army Wives and Coming Home, Sunday nights on Lifetime.
Military families are the subject of recent growing attention and fast becoming a cause receiving high-profile support. For me, this was most apparent when executives at NBC Universal organized a large roundtable breakfast on their studio lot to discuss the media’s role in supporting military families. To gather most of the public affairs executives in Hollywood, in addition to White House staff members and officials from the Department of Defense and the Pentagon is quite a feat and one that does not happen often. Pushing aside our competitive differences, all of us at that breakfast agreed, this is an issue that we care passionately about and want to rally our perspective networks, agencies and studios to support. Most importantly, we know it is an issue that our audiences and clients care about as well.
Spotlight on Military Families
The trend of increased attention on military families can also be seen in the growing numbers of people watching Lifetime Television’s military-themed shows. The network recently aired its most watched episode of Army Wives ever with over 4.8 million people tuning in. Interest in this community also drove the development of Coming Home, Lifetime’s new reality series that is in part inspired by the millions who view online videos of military family reunions.
Military families are everywhere, especially after over 10 years of war. When we understand that they are our neighbors, our co-workers and our children’s playmates, we can clearly see how connected we all are. And, regardless of individual politics, it is easy to understand the hardship and strain that comes from fellow Americans and their families raising their hands in service year after year.
Showing support for such a deserving constituency can be as easy as implementing a hiring program for returning vets, running an extra shift on carpool duty, mowing an extra lawn or any act that makes the load a little lighter for families waiting for the return of a loved one. Such accessibility to service and impact has also been a driver of the increased excitement in this area.
The Launch of Joining Forces
Last week the President, Vice President, First Lady and Dr. Biden gathered for a rare appearance together to launch Joining Forces, an initiative that brings together public, private and non-profit sectors under one umbrella to serve military families with a focus on employment, education and wellness.
The Opportunity for A&E
When presented with the opportunity to create and produce the campaign’s official Public Service Announcements for the White House, A&E Television Networks jumped at the opportunity. The result was a non-branded series of PSAs for use by the White House and all networks willing to air it.
To Brand or Not to Brand
Some may wonder, why with such an investment of resources would the PSAs be non-branded? But, for all of us at AETN, our return on investment is represented in the sheer honor we feel as part of such a monumental campaign. It was one way we could use our resources as a media company to be of service. We understand that a non-branded PSA would receive the most airtime across the greatest diversity of networks and hence reach more people and inspire greater action, which undoubtedly is a shared goal in all the work that AETN already does for veterans and military families.
Honesty and Trust Trumps Logo Placement
At a time when as corporate social responsibility executives we strive for co-branding and logo placement on everything we do and touch, the Joining Services PSA example provides another side to the equation. Long-term partnerships call for flexibility, balance and understanding of each partner’s needs. Without fail, I have found that when honesty, trust and respect for objectives are achieved among all entities working on a project together, the greatest results are ultimately realized despite not being able to check off all the boxes in the CSR rulebook.
What do you think of A&E’s decision to contribute an unbranded PSA to the Joining Forces campaign? Is this something that would be embraced in your company?
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