For 15 years, the WPTV-TV television station in Palm Beach County, owned by the E.W. Scripps, has donated free advertising and volunteer time to the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County (the Coalition), which promotes children's, family and adult literacy services, coordinates activities, and operates a literacy hotline with the help of many partners across the county. Besides supporting a good cause, WPTV’s partnership with the Coalition makes sense from a business standpoint: Its parent company is also a newspaper company, and literacy is essential to increasing circulation. In fact, WPTV first learned about the Coalition when a local newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, approached the station to become involved.
WPTV and the Coalition both reach the same target audience: residents of Palm Beach County. The station provides the Coalition with approximately $20,000 worth of free advertising each year, covering communitywide literacy events, such as the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee and running free public service announcements (PSAs) about the importance of literacy. Each year, the station’s news anchors volunteer as celebrity readers on Read With Me Day to read with local school children. WPTV also offers expertise and guidance to the Coalition. Bernadette O’Grady, program director for WPTV, is a member of the Coalition’s executive committee, board of directors, and communications committee.
In addition to the station’s in-kind contributions to the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, its parent company provides financial support to literacy organizations through the Scripps Howard Foundation (the Foundation). The Foundation gives $3 million annually to local literacy projects in communities where E.W. Scripps Co. does business. Affiliate stations recommend potential grantees to the Foundation by endorsing their applications with a letter of support. For 13 years, the Coalition has been the local grant recipient in the WPTV broadcast area.
Capitalize on business assets.
WPTV’s Bernadette O’Grady recognizes that many community-based organizations strive to attract publicity and raise awareness about their causes. She says, “Most nonprofits struggle to get media partners on board to get their message out.” Her mission as a media partner to the Coalition is to do just that: publicize the Coalition’s activities and highlight the great job the Coalition is doing to support literacy programs in the community.
As a media outlet, WPTV contributes its expertise, advertising resources, and airtime to the Coalition, in addition to other in-kind and financial donations. The station provides free airtime for all of the Coalition’s major events and produces PSAs on literacy and the Coalition to run as a “fill-in spot, whenever there’s available time,” according to O’Grady. At the Coalition’s annual Love of Literacy Luncheon, a camera crew from the station records the celebrity keynote speaker for a PSA. WPTV gives the Coalition advice about filming “spots,” such as keeping the Coalition’s literacy hotline phone number on screen for the entire segment. At the same time, the Coalition’s media partners recognize that by donating their business expertise and associating their companies with literacy, they attract good publicity to their companies as well.
Work with competitors towards a common goal.
“The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County is one of the few areas where we don’t ask for exclusivity,” notes WPTV's O’Grady, referring to the collaboration of several different media partners on the Coalition’s communications committee. “We all understand that literacy benefits everyone, and every station does what they can.” The communications committee has met on a monthly basis since 1991 and is as strong now, if not stronger, than when it began, according to Darlene Kostrub, executive director of the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County.
The committee works collaboratively to determine how best to promote the work of the Coalition and to design publicity campaigns around literacy. Currently, the partners are developing a plan to involve Hispanic media outlets, since the region has a large Spanish-speaking population. For example, one station promoted the Coalition on its Spanish Web site and another publicizes literacy events on its Spanish radio station.
Look for opportunities to have a big impact.
When determining which community organizations or events to support, O'Grady looks for opportunities to “get the most bang for the buck.” She looks for events that benefit the most people and often chooses to support a communitywide organization, like the Coalition or the Komen Race for the Cure, rather than individual organizations with a smaller community base. The time commitment, about five hours per month for participating WPTV employees, and the pleasure of working with people dedicated to improving literacy in the community make supporting the Coalition easy. The natural match between the interests of WPTV and its parent company and the needs of the Coalition enable the company to have a big impact in Palm Beach County.
Benefits to Business
"They [the media partners] have a lot of fun! It’s something they all believe in and work very hard at, but it’s also just plain fun."
Some benefits to WPTV of its partnership with the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County include:
Benefits to Adult Education
"When you have people in the publicity and communications field that can get your message out, that’s a huge hurdle you’ve overcome."
Some benefits to the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County of its partnership with WPTV-TV include:
The following resource has been compiled for further reading on topics related to business-adult education partnerships. A pop-up window with a link to and description of the resource will appear as you click on the title. Resources may be categorized below as: Business Partnerships (descriptions of the business-adult education partnerships referenced above); Partnership Profiles (related examples of other community partnerships); How-Tos (guides and tools for establishing partnerships); Research; the Case for Business Involvement; and Web Sites. A complete list of resources related to business-adult education partnerships is found in the Workforce Issues section on the C-PAL Web site.
Partnership ProfilesLiteracy Coalition of Palm Beach County
Community Partnerships for Adult Learning (C-PAL) Partnership Profiles