Premiering on PBS in January 2002, the 13-part AMERICAN FAMILY series was supported by a national outreach campaign that helped local PBS stations build and sustain long-term relationships with Latino communities and organizations. For the Season II campaign for AMERICAN FAMILY with 13 new episodes in 2004, Outreach Extensions proposed an innovative outreach strategy and issue: to focus on Latino health issues while continuing the emphasis on family. Important new campaign resources included a “from A to Z” template to conduct a local health fair. Resources developed with national partners included a cessation of smoking brochure, child immunization materials, and a healthy lifestyle component. Funding for both national outreach campaigns was provided by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The campaigns were designed and managed by Outreach Extensions.
- A comprehensive external evaluation of the outreach campaign was conducted by Applied Research & Consulting LLC. ARC reported that: “Relationship-building was the cornerstone of the campaign. The development of on-going relationships between stations and community organizations was by many accounts the most notable and successful outcome of the campaign. With no exceptions, all respondents reported that the AMERICAN FAMILY National Outreach Campaign served as the impetus for the creation of new partnerships and for building upon partnerships that had already been established. For those public television stations in markets with smaller, growing Latino populations, the campaign was an important starting point. In markets with a larger Latino presence, the outreach campaign provided opportunity for a significant deepening of already-established relationships.
- The outreach campaign’s development of a hands-on family album brought together families, community groups, and communities and engaged them in a meaningful exploration of their culture consistent with the AMERICAN FAMILY series. As one of the national partners reported to ARC: “The smartest thing they did was to tie in the family album with the program. That was very creative and a really smart way to say ‘here’s how you can help develop your community beyond just watching and supporting the program.’ Quite honestly, that would make me want to be super loyal to the program and the people who are providing it because they are really investing in the community, which is something we really value.”
- 44 stations participated in the outreach campaign, reporting a total of 18,791,008 impressions. Providing an on-air component through promoting outreach activities, highlighting campaign opportunities, and presenting families and American Family Album projects substantially extended their reach as did the work of participating local partners. Stations conducted over 200 events: American Family Album workshops, Ready To Learn workshops, community screenings and events, workshops for adults and youth, and El Día de los Niños events.
- Partnering with Latino organizations was central to the outreach campaign and stations reported notable gains in this area. Stations were also highly motivated to pursue Latino populations, believing that they are an important and growing constituency within their markets. Many stations commented on how AMERICAN FAMILY made it possible to approach the Latino community, that its content and resources “opened the door” for them. Building sustainable relationships took many forms, including board memberships, participation on advisory committees, developing local productions and outreach materials that are relevant to local Latino audiences, and extending the relationships they developed with AMERICAN FAMILY partners to new station outreach campaigns.
- Campaign tools supported bridge-building: the “Sharing Our Stories” curriculum could continue to be used by stations in early childhood parenting/provider settings, including Ready To Learn. A second early childhood curriculum, “America, My New Home,” which dealt with immigration issues, linked AMERICAN FAMILY with THE NEW AMERICANS. Outreach Extensions worked with national campaign partner the National Latino Children’s (NLCI) Institute to develop both curricula. Extending some of the concepts from “Sharing Our Stories,” one station worked with NLCI to develop “I Am A Citizen in My Community” for LIBERTY’S KIDS. Adaptable to other programs and series, as well as to station initiatives, the American Family Album and online albums continued to be used by stations to engage their communities and partners.
2004 Season Campaign
- In the course of the Season II campaign, 53 public television stations across the country joined forces with hundreds of local health and human services organizations and over a dozen prominent national partner organizations. These multi-leveled partnerships created a variety of events, workshops, and activities to fulfill both the goals of the National Outreach Campaign as well as the program goals of each participating organization. Many of the stations and their partners chose to address the health needs of local Latino families primarily through the sponsorship – or co-sponsorship – of community health fairs. Outreach Extensions documented more than 34 million campaign impressions through station events, workshops, material distributions, on-air outreach and promotion, Web sites, and local partner activities. In addition, the national strategic partners helped the campaign to achieve an additional 4.5 million impressions.
- Based on the 25 in-depth interviews Applied Research and Consulting (ARC) conducted for the Season II evaluation, researchers confirmed that OE’s health strategy was on target. ARC concluded that the campaign identified and responded effectively to a genuine need for health information and resources in Latino communities. They stated, for example, “that Latino community members who participated in the outreach campaign are eager for health information and resources and are very open to the kinds of activities that were presented.” In addition, one local outreach partner commented: “This project was a good fit for us because we are really about empowerment. The campaign supported our goals by improving awareness of health and nutritional issues. This is a form of literacy that affects school readiness and [children’s] ability to excel academically.”