Giving to the community through the Web

Oct 7, 2002  •  Post A Comment

WCVB-TV, the Hearst-Argyle-owned ABC affiliate in Boston, launched a “cyber-philanthropist” initiative Sept. 24 that gets viewers and sponsors involved with local nonprofits via the Internet.
In the CommonWealth 5 section of theBoston Channel.com, viewers can sign up to donate their time, goods or money to organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Boston or Jewish Family and Children’s Services. So far used cars and Red Sox tickets have been among the donations.
“It is the first time I think on a communitywide basis anyone has introduced the concept of utilizing the Internet to advance charitable causes,” said President and General Manager Paul La Camera.
The CommonWealth campaign is publicized through 30-second spots about the community involvement of employees of sponsors Fleet Financial and Blue Cross Blue Shield. These spots are followed by 30-second vignettes on one of the more than 70 area nonprofit organizations that have signed on.
“In one ad we featured an area businesswoman who donated old office furniture and how a school picked up the donation,” said Karen Holmes Ward, WCVB’s director of public affairs and community services. “The spot showed how the money the school saved by not having to buy office furniture allowed them to put more money back into the youth. Spotlighting these charities is a way to publicize these smaller organizations that otherwise will never get a chance to be on television.”
“Advertising on Channel 5 is always a good thing to do,” said Peter Meade, executive VP of corporate affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, “because they are a well-respected station.”
Karen Agresti, senior VP and director of local broadcast media, who has Fleet Financial as a client, said, “We are trying to get clients to do more than just spots. We are trying to move clients into cross-platforms.”
Client Harvard Pilgrim sponsors the morning weather on WCVB and the weather section of the station’s Web site. The Boston Globe does joint radio and TV deals with Viacom Stations Group-owned CBS affiliate WBZ-TV.
WBZ also brings in furniture, food and beverage advertisers for its annual “Free Friday Flicks” at the Hatch Shell. “We show movies for free to the community and advertisers are able to sample down there and tie in with our promotional spots,” said Al Turner, executive director of sales.
WB affiliate WLVI-TV, owned by Tribune Broadcasting, is highly involved with bringing in sponsors for children’s charities. It just teamed with the Jimmy Fund to televise a benefit for children with cancer. The station holds a four-hour telethon annually for the Joey Fund for cystic fibrosis, and hosts Team Harmony, a sports challenge for the Special Olympics, every December. “We create quarterly specials to raise the visibility of these events,” General Manager Vincent Manzi said. “Each quarter we do a major one- or two-hour prime-time special.”
Boston TV revenues are expected to be around $592 million for 2002, up from $558.5 million in 2001, according to BIA Financial Network.