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American Family

AMERICAN FAMILY created a model for national outreach campaigns seeking to serve new audiences and produce sustainable outcomes. 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. Funding for both national outreach campaigns was provided by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Both campaigns were managed by Outreach Extensions, a national consulting firm that specializes in comprehensive, high profile campaigns for media projects.

The first Latino drama ever to air on broadcast television, AMERICAN FAMILY was created by Academy Award® nominated director Gregory Nava (El Norte, Selena), and was produced by his production company, El Norte Films, and KCET/Hollywood in association with The Greenblatt Janollari Studio and Fox Television Studios. Copyright © 2001 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Set in Los Angeles, the series chronicled the lives of the Gonzalez family and raised cross-generational and cultural issues that touched Latinos as well as the broad general audience.

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The AMERICAN FAMILY National Outreach Campaign brought together critical elements to deliver success: campaign resources that could be used effectively in local communities and national meetings; innovative and energetic work at public television stations; national strategic partners that developed specialized materials, offered venues, and provided access to key Latino constituencies; and campaign management and technical assistance that orchestrated results. These elements were leveraged by resources and guidance provided by PBS and CPB, including station relations, broadcast strategies, advertising, and promotions.

The project offered a groundbreaking opportunity for Latino organizations and communities to partner with their local public television stations. Building on the themes explored in the series, local communities tailored their campaigns to meet local needs. Communities had the flexibility to tackle significant family and community building issues, or to emphasize the family sharing aspects of the campaign. Season II provided new options related to health. Additionally, AMERICAN FAMILY gave all Americans a new understanding about the vital contributions of diverse Latino cultures. The message of the outreach campaign was one of inclusion – to encourage participation by diverse populations in each community.

Evaluation / Outcomes

Applied Research and Consulting, LLC, based in New York City, evaluated both national outreach campaigns. See highlights at the beginning of the document.

2002 Season I Highlights

  • 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 American 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: board memberships, participation on advisory committees, developing local productions and outreach materials that were 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 II Highlights

  • 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 Outreach Extension’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.”

2002 Season I Campaign Resources

American Family Album – The launch campaign’s centerpiece was a powerful call-to-action, the American Family Album, which gave families and communities a meaningful way to tell their remarkable and treasured stories. The American Family Album provided opportunities for families, organizations, and communities to explore their art, culture, history, and shared traditions. A comprehensive “how-to” agenda in the Station Outreach Toolkit helped stations conduct local album workshops. An edited videotape of a workshop at KETC/St. Louis provided a model for stations to replicate. Stations and their partners enjoyed many options for introducing the American Family Album at station and community events, engaging youth, adults, and families. A bilingual (English/Spanish) Web-based Album template could be customized by stations to showcase local stories and activities on their Web sites.

Station Community Engagement Opportunities – 39 stations participated in the outreach campaign. Stations in communities with significant Latino populations conducted Relationship Building or Relationship Sustaining activities. These important outreach efforts directly addressed the campaign’s priorities to focus on building stations’ capacities to reach and serve Latino families, as well as on helping stations to create sustainable relationships with Latino organizations. Less intensive Station Activities supported family and/or community events and built awareness for the series. Outreach Extensions administered the projects and provided customized technical assistance to participating stations

Station Outreach Toolkit – The AMERICAN FAMILY Station Outreach Toolkit promoted station participation in the outreach campaign. Developed by Outreach Extensions in association with the national community partners, the Toolkit offered readiness materials, activities, outreach strategies, and resources to support local campaigns, partnership development, as well as community activities and events. Information was also provided on the National Latino Children’s Institute’s national El Día de los Niños event, which several stations joined through their local community events. Templates were provided online so that stations could easily customize them for local print and online distribution.

Bilingual English/Spanish brochure – Stations were invited to order copies of the four-color bilingual brochure, which promoted the series, outreach campaign, and national Web site as well as highlighted the American Family Album. 100,000 copies were printed and distributed; multiple copies were available to stations, national partners, and to the national campaign.

“Sharing Our Stories” workshop curriculum was used by outreach coordinators in early childhood education and Ready To Learn settings. Based on “The Sewing Machine” episode of AMERICAN FAMILY, the curriculum was developed by Outreach Extensions in partnership with the National Latino Children’s Institute. It also provided relevant PBS children’s programming suggestions for use in the workshops.

“America, My New Home” workshop curriculum was planned as a bridge-building opportunity to link AMERICAN FAMILY and THE NEW AMERICANS through focusing on issues related to immigration and extending relationships to Latino families/organizations. The curriculum was developed by Outreach Extensions in partnership with the National Latino Children’s Institute.

National/Local Events, in association with stations as well as local, regional and national outreach stakeholders, provided an effective platform to promote awareness of the series as well as engage both Latino and diverse constituencies. This included: (1) station-based events; (2) existing community events such as the Latino Book and Family Festival; and (3) national and regional conferences such as those involving national outreach partners.

The AMERICAN FAMILY Outreach Advisory Committee included outreach staff of public television stations as well as representatives of some national community partners. The group provided strategies and resources to support outreach to Latino constituencies. Part of the Outreach Advisory Committee, the Station Mentoring Team assisted stations just beginning to reach out to the Latino community.

2002 Season II Campaign Resources

A new Station Readiness Notebook developed by Outreach Extensions supported station participation in the outreach campaign including community engagement applications and guidelines. Strategic partners were featured and health-related articles and fact sheets developed by the partners informed stations about critical issues facing Latino families. Three health-based modules helped stations create customized activities that could work in their communities with their local partners:

  • AMERICAN FAMILY Health Fair: From A to Z
  • AMERICAN FAMILY Fitness Fun For All and
  • “Heart to Corazón” Workshop for Parents and Caregivers.

Activities raised awareness about key health issues, educated families about health risks, and engaged family members of all ages. The modules also highlighted the family and intergenerational aspects of the AMERICAN FAMILY series. A key message was that all family members could have fun together … and help one another to set and follow through on health and wellness goals. Handouts on family fitness and nutrition were created by educators in collaboration with the outreach team.

Pamphlets and Brochures – The campaign developed/offered pamphlets and brochures for stations to distribute at local events. Multiple copies were sent to stations.

  • “Two Things Your Family Should Know About Smoking” – Developed by the National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention (LCAT), this brochure encouraged individuals to stop smoking. In English and Spanish, the brochure offered data on the effects of smoking as well as provided strategies and resources to quit smoking.
  • My Baby’s Immunization Book/Las Vacunas de mi Bebé – Developed by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, this 52-page bilingual booklet provided a schedule of recommended immunizations for infants and children, information about vaccine-preventable diseases, and a “my baby” record, up to 18 months of age.
  • Growing Your Family Tree – Using this poster, families were encouraged to create a family tree as a snapshot of their family’s history and an exploration of their traditions across the generations. The family-based activity included suggestions on how to use the tree, steps for completing it, and tips for gathering information.

Station Community Engagement Opportunities – 53 stations conducted 74 community engagement activities.

  • Level One: Stations were required to have existing ties, or wanted to develop new relationships, to local Latino organizations/communities, and were seeking ways to strengthen these connections to achieve long-term sustainable relationships. Preference was given to stations that planned health-related events and activities that served Latino families.
  • Level Two: Stations conducted local activities that incorporated family sharing and learning and/or used the health-related events and activities. Local partners included Latino organizations or groups that serve Latino communities. Stations were encouraged to create new or build on prior contacts to create sustainable relationships.
  • Screenings: Stations planned and conducted local screening events.

Communications/Technical Assistance – Outreach Extensions provided customized technical assistance to all stations seeking to implement AMERICAN FAMILY outreach activities. Stations were informed about campaign activities via e-mail on an ongoing basis.

AMERICAN FAMILY Web site – The series Web site at pbs.org/americanfamily offered outreach content. Links were created to all partner Web sites; with few exceptions, partners provided links to the AMERICAN FAMILY Web site.

2002 Season I Campaign

The outreach campaign built a network of national strategic partners, which developed resources as well as hosted activities. Significant Latino organizations and others committed to the campaign included: Asociacion de Musicos Latino Americanos; Association of Hispanic Arts; Generations United; Latino Public Broadcasting; League of United Latin American Citizens; MANA, a National Latina Organization; National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures; National Council of La Raza; National Hispanic Council on Aging; and National Latino Children’s Institute. Through collaborating with partners engaged in children and families, arts and culture, education, and civic affairs, the campaign supported PBS’ priority to build sustainable social capital.

2004 Season II Campaign

The campaign’s network of national strategic partners advised the campaign on health issues affecting the Latino community as well as helped to develop outreach resources. Detailed information in the Station Readiness Notebook included the availability of local affiliates. New partners included Latino and other national organizations involved in Latino health and family issues: American Diabetes Association, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Diabetes Education Program, National Latina Health Network, and the National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention. Some partners from the first campaign supported the focus on health and families: Generations United; MANA, a National Latina Organization; National Council of La Raza; and the National Latino Children’s Institute. Additional continuing partners included: Association of Hispanic Arts, Latino Public Broadcasting, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, and the National Hispanic Council on Aging. Other campaign resource organizations included Readjustment Counseling Service and the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.