NBC Universal

NBC’s “The More You Know” public-service campaign, started in 1989, is the longest-running do-good branding effort on TV. Last week, the campaign was honored with its second Gracie Allen Award from the American Women in Radio and Television, adding to its Emmys and Peabody.

“We originally came up with the concept as a good umbrella to address a lot of issues,” says Susan Haspel, VP of community relations and public affairs for NBC Universal.

“The original mandate was a focus on education because there was a teacher shortage at the time,” Haspel says, “but it evolved into a campaign that allowed us to continue with many different issues.”

Today, NBC focuses most of its public-service announcements on issues that strengthen families and communities, such as parent-child communication and drug and alcohol abuse. A toll-free number appears in each PSA and links to a partner Web site.

Last January, NBC Universal aired A Concert of Hope to raise funds for victims of the Southeast Asian tsunami. Shown on all NBC Universal outlets, it added nearly $20 million to American Red Cross efforts.

“We see this as a part of our overall business strategy,” says Susan Fleishman, senior VP of community affairs for NBC Universal. “People like to do business with and like to buy or view products from companies that are socially responsible.” NBC, newly joined with Universal, will outline a more coordinated company-wide public-service plan this September.

NBC’s focus on families and communities fits well with the needs of commonly owned Telemundo, which has instituted a Spanish-language version of “The More You Know” in Spanish, El Poder de Saber (“The power of knowledge”). Last year, Telemundo created 10 PSAs under that flag; this year, it plans 32.

Says Alfredo Richard, VP of corporate communications for Telemundo, “Our research shows that these issues are really important for our viewers in particular.”

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.