Inside This Issue:
Company restructuring, franchising law modification, and technological advances in the cable industry over the past few years have had an impact on the role of community relations. During an ACC online chat February 23, several cable communicators discussed how community relations were still an important tool in their tool box and how their approach had changed over the years.
Cable communicators can have different approaches to and even definitions of community relations depending on the specific demands of their company and business realities. "For me," Reinaldo Llano, director of corporate community relations at Bright House Networks, said, "community relations today continues to be about building and strengthening relationships with the community in order to build the bank of good will for companies." Tamar Hoapili, manager, community relations/video production, Cox Las Vegas, agreed that community relations was "about relationship building while promoting your brand." John Borack, director of community affairs for Time Warner Cable had a slightly different take on the subject. "To me, it's all about localism and positioning yourself at the forefront of a cause," such as Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds which connects kids to after-school learning opportunities in science technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Community relations is a strategic way to differentiate your company in the communities it serves. "As a company, we've always touted the fact that our companies are local, our employees live and work in the communities we serve," Llano said. "Each community is different, so we try and address issues that affect those communities. At the same time, we try and have a global strategy and framework that allows us to coordinate our message about the things the company stands for." Bright House Networks is a strong supporter of afterschool programs, and each local market supports its own community afterschool program to "localize the relationship and impact."
The localism inherent to community relations is also important to Cox Las Vegas and its bottom line. For example, the company "has been able to host a Back to School Fair in our market, offering residential opportunities for our sales team, advertising opportunity for our media team while promoting/branding our education initiatives," said Hoapili.
While certain community relations projects may still be pursued to strengthen a relationship to key people in the company or in the community such as a local politician, there has been an increased emphasis on being more strategic in the last several years. "We have been more focused and strategic on our outreach to drive more viewership, sales and positive branding," said Hoapili. "We've become more focused," Borack added. "We're no longer an 'inch deep and a mile wide' in terms of our philanthropic efforts. We're now focusing on Connect a Million Minds, which aligns more closely with our core business." Other changes in community relations that cable communicators have seen recently are that "we've introduced research in the mix," Llano said. "We've upped our game in terms of branding and marketing, and we have really focused on industry partnership with our programming partners as a way to add additional resources."
Strong partnerships are still very important to successful community relations efforts, and there are many factors to consider when determining the best nonprofit or programming partners to align with in any endeavor. "For Cox, the partner must meet our initiatives: Family/Children, Education (STEM) and Diversity," Hoapili said. "In addition, Cox LV has created our 'Five Filters' of participation." Any partner must help drive revenue, meet government relations goals, drive media outreach, meet diversity goals and meet the company initiatives already mentioned.
"Some of our major partners," said Llano, "we include in our research to understand how consumers feel about their brands. Because we want to protect our brand, we don't just partner with every group. On the smaller amounts, that's based on their focus, who they are reaching, what the impact is, those kinds of things." Most cable companies also have legacy partners, groups with whom they've worked for years. Some of these partnerships do not continue after a strategic refocus of a company's community relations efforts.
"We have started to do the stop/start effect," said Hoapili. "Stop doing things 'just because' and start doing things that really meet the company goals, community needs and market initiatives." These decisions can be effectively communicated to legacy partners. "In order to focus on CAMM, some longtime partnerships have gone away. On the whole, when these organizations find out that we are now supporting after-school STEM education, the response has been very positive."
The various ways community relations have changed and become more strategic is just one of the topics explored during the February 23 ACC Online Chat The Role of Community Relations Today. To learn more about the other topics covered, please review the chat transcript posted online in the members-only area of the ACC Web site. To log in, remember that your username is your work email and the password is your last name all in lowercase letters.
Join your communications colleagues in New York City for the 6th edition of ACC’s Cable Communications institute. Hold May 4-6 on your calendar to attend this world class program developed in conjunction with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. All sessions will be hosted at Syracuse University’s Lubin House, adjacent to Central Park West and 61st Street.
The Cable Communications Institute was created to provide an intense learning experience designed for rising communications executives who would like to expand their knowledge and move their careers to the next stage. The program will include expert speakers from the cable industry, communications profession as well as full time and adjunct faculty from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Over two and a half days executives will engage in lively discussions on communications topics focused on cable industry issues and trends within the communications profession.
The 2011 program includes sessions on Crisis Communications, Leveraging Social Media, Utilizing Story Telling Techniques, Hands-On Social Media Training, Internet Tools for Measurement and Evaluation plus Communicating Your Personal Brand. “The Institute was a great experience, I am walking away with some great ideas and tools,” as quoted from an executive who attended last year. For additional information on this year’s program and to review the 2010 Institute, please to go to http://www.cablecommunicators.org/resources_inst.php or contact Steve Jones at email@example.com or 202-222-2373.
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Logo launched in mid-February beCause, its first ever pro-social initiative focusing on self-respect and empowerment issues for the LGBT community and their allies. Overall, beCause aims to support and energize viewers about the many causes they care about in order to help them live happier and healthier lives. The channel introduced the initiative through a PSA that asks viewers to engage in community issues “because you are a force.”
Recognizing the disproportionate impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among gay and bisexual men, beCause will first address this health crisis. Logo teamed up with the Greater Than Aids movement on a multi-platform media effort to combat the resurgence of HIV infections among gay and bisexual men. This partnership will include targeted public service messages on Logo and informational content online. As the “beCause” campaign progresses, efforts will target other issues challenging the LGBT community including bullying; depression/suicide; homelessness; and smoking/drug use.
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Comcast honored freshmen Tiffany Diaz of La Salle University and Samantha Forgas of Drexel, the two recipients of Comcast’s Gus Amsterdam Leadership Award at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayoral Luncheon. The Gus Amsterdam Award is an offshoot of Comcast’s Leaders and Achievers Scholarship program, which every year honors approximately 1,800 graduating seniors around the country with $1,000 scholarships.
Amsterdam recipients are selected from among those who attended public high school in Philadelphia and chose to continue their college education in the city. Their scholarship award is upgraded to $5,000 and they are celebrated at the mayoral Luncheon, where Comcast is presenting sponsor. Integrity, academic excellence and community service all factor in the Leaders and Achievers Scholarship program, which has recognized more than 13,000 students since 2001. Gus Amsterdam was a founding board member of Comcast and a close friend of company founder Ralph J. Roberts.
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Registration is now open for FORUM 2011. The two-day program, October 5-6 in New York City in the Hilton New York, is price at $750 including the closing Beacon Awards luncheon and reception. The FORUM Committee is currently working on developing three general sessions and four breakout sessions to keep you abreast of the latest in cable and communications trends and expertise. To register, please go to the FORUM 2011 page and click on the FORUM 2011 registration link.
Additionally you may also reserve your room for FORUM 2011 and Diversity Week. Single/Double rooms at the Hilton New York are priced at $344/night plus tax. You must make your reservation by Friday, September 9 to receive this rate. You can make a room reservation by calling 1-800 HILTONS, and reference Cable Diversity Week to receive the group rate.
Room reservations may also be made at the Hilton New York online by going to, http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/groups/personalized/N/NYCNHHH-NCDW-20110930/index.jhtml?WT.mc_id=POG. This registration page is specifically designed for all executives attending any of the events during Cable’s Diversity Week, including FORUM. For additional information or to join the FORUM 2011 planning committee, contact Steve Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-222-2373.
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Lifetime will premiere a new reality series, Coming Home, featuring U.S. armed forces service members’ surprise family reunions across the country after serving long tours of duty, this Sunday, March 6 at 10 pm ET/PT. In paying tribute to American armed forces personnel and their families, Coming Home will feature personnel from all five branches of the military and will highlight five reunions per show. With hundreds of thousands of members of the armed forces serving the country in the Middle East and elsewhere across the globe, military family reunions have become a sensation online, where millions of people have been inspired watching touching footage of loved ones and friends re-connecting with one another after enduring long periods of time apart. For more information, contact Mega Tantillo at email@example.com or 310-556-7542.
Now is the best time to encourage your peers to join ACC. The association has instituted a “test drive” trial membership initiative that allows prospective members to participate in the association’s various programs and professional development activities on a trial basis for six months free and without further obligation.
Suddenlink of Amarillo, Texas, hosted a donations drive to help the Salvation Army in its efforts to aid people affected by recent wildfires in the Texas Panhandle. The drive began on Wednesday afternoon with a KAT Country 102 live radio remote in the Suddenlink parking lot and will continue until noon Friday, March 4. The company encouraged people to donate new or gently used clothing, blankets, linens, other household items, bottled water, gift cards or financial contributions to the Salvation Army.
Welcome to Minnesota Cable Communications Association, ACC’s latest corporate member! For more information on how your organization can join ACC as a corporate member, please contact Steve Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-222-2373. For membership details, go to http://www.cablecommunicators.org/cmember.php.
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