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Leveraging partnership to reach dispersed populations

Scott Cooper, Executive Director, NeighborImpact

Challenge: NeighborImpact is a community action agency with 14 major lines of business. Geographically, our region is approximately 7,000 square miles, covering eight communities. Approximately half the population lives in unincorporated areas. How could NeighborImpact effectively communicate across such a vast area?

A group of kids on a playground

NeighborImpact, the community action agency serving Central Oregon, is fortunate in having a partnership with our local television station, KTVZ, which is affiliated with FOX, NBC and CW networks.

KTVZ operates a unique partnership with NeighborImpact as one of five partner agencies focused on meeting the needs of children and families. "The 21 Cares for Kids" campaign has been operating for more than five years; 21 refers to the UHF channel on which the station broadcast in its earliest days. Through the campaign, KTVZ allocates broadcast time during the day to its five partners to allow them to advertise their services. Because KTVZ's signal reaches across the entire geography of Central Oregon, all residents with access to a television or the internet can receive information about the services available to them through their community action agency.

Thanks to the KTVZ partnership, NeighborImpact airs approximately 6,000 commercial spots year. At 30 seconds per ad, that's over 50 hours of TV airtime annually. The retail value of those spots is more than $54,000 per year — well above a service agency's typical TV advertising budget. KTVZ also provides pro-bono help in producing the service-oriented commercials, ensuring that they are broadcast quality and professional, and lends the voices of its on-air talent.

KTVZ's advertising on NeighborImpact's behalf showcase the agency's homebuyer education programs and its menu of financial coaching and other home ownership services. KTVZ offers further support to NeighborImpact by lending TV personalities to emcee agency events. Broadcast staff also help train NeighborImpact leadership on messaging and the "elevator speech."

A white girl with blond hair stands in front of a museum glassIn October of 2015, NeighborImpact commissioned the national survey firm USA Survey to poll residents of Central Oregon. The poll found that when asked, "Have you ever heard of NeighborImpact?" 79 percent of respondents replied, "Yes." The poll had a margin of error of +/- five percent. Name recognition was consistent across income levels among those polled, with only slight variations based on age, gender and race.

Despite social media's popularity as a communications tool, NeighborImpact has learned, through its partnership with KTVZ, how traditional media still plays a significant and effective role in getting the message out regarding programs and services, particularly in rural areas. "Social media is a growing part of the communications landscape," says Sandra Visnack, Director of Communication for NeighborImpact, "but television remains the most universal way to reach an entire region."

Nearly all media stations have unsold advertising slots available schedule, which can be used to promote social causes and services to viewers, and television stations enjoy the opportunity associate their talent with good works. Working with advertising and marketing personnel at local television stations, along with news staff, can lead to productive and mutually beneficial relationships for both human services organizations and media. Lack of budget to purchase paid advertising does not have to be a limiting factor for community organizations in designing an effective outreach program.

NeighborImpact, the community action agency serving Central Oregon, is fortunate in having a partnership with our local television station, KTVZ, which helps our organization communicate across a wide, sometimes sparsely populated, geographic service area.

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