‘Think fast, act fast’: How Telemundo shared word of the COVID vaccine

NBCUniversal Telemundo’s “Plan Your Vaccine” campaign thought creatively to share an important message.

Modern business team discussing new ideas at the office. Business people on meeting in modern office. Colleagues smiling and talking at board room. Brainstorming. NBCUniversal had a campaign to spread awareness about COVID.

COVID-19 wreaked havoc on Latino communities and caused high hospitalization and death rates in 2020 and beyond.

There seemed to be a glimmer of hope, however, in early 2021.

That hope came in the form of COVID-19 vaccines, which were just becoming available throughout the United States. However, mistrust, misinformation and inequitable vaccine distribution caused lower vaccination rates in the Latino community, according to UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Institute research.

To address these issues, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises debuted the “Planfica tu Vacuna,” or “Plan Your Vaccine” campaign, in tandem with the national vaccine rollouts in early 2021.

Telemundo, the country’s largest Spanish-language television station, debuted a bilingual website with vaccination information and a PSA that was featured at the Latin American Music Awards.

Telemundo’s comms team efforts relied heavily on its parent company powerhouse, NBCUniversal, to expand the campaign’s footprint.

Their team’s hard work won them the COVID-19 Communications Campaign award at Ragan’s 2022 PR Daily Awards.

Here’s what you can learn from the campaign:

Get early executive buy-in

Christina Kolbjornsen, senior VP and head of corporate and external affairs at NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, told PR Daily that when building out a PR campaign, get executive buy-in early.

“Executive buy-in from day one is really critical,” Kolbjornsen said. “Because it helps support the importance of the campaigns that you’re building. It also helps to elevate the why. And it also helps to navigate potential kinks.”

Kolbjornsen said her team tapped NBC executives and the brand’s senior leadership team. The campaign’s team shared pertinent campaign idea details and messaging to help NBC’s leaders understand its overall mission and objective.

When everyone was on board, Kolbjornsen kept the execs and senior leaders close throughout the campaign and shared updates and comms strategies throughout.

“The team was really all in,” Kolbjornsen said. “It really was a massive effort on behalf of the company to get this campaign done. Our executives were in it day in and day out … and part of the team that made it happen.”

Use what you have

Kolbjornsen said that Telemundo and NBC joined forces and launched the campaign with two 30-second PSAs.

Today” featured the English-language version and Telemundo’s morning show, “Hoy Día,” featured the Spanish-language version.

The PSAs featured Telemundo’s roster of anchors and celebs like, WWE’s Angel Garza and actor Mario Lopez (seen in both videos) to encourage viewers to get vaccinated.

“There’s hope” with the debut of the COVID-19 vaccines, Lopez said in the “Today” show PSA.

Other celebs in the “Today” PSA chimed in.

“I know, I know, it’s been a little confusing,” Mike Tirico of NBC Sports added of the pandemic.

“So it’s more important than ever to make a plan,” Peacock’s Amber Ruffin said.

“Today” co-anchor, Hoda Kotb, was also featured in the PSA.

Kolbjornsen said it was important to tap people who already had a relationship with Telemundo and NBC to spread the word while letting their star power shine bright.

Speaking of star power, the PSA was also featured at the Latin American Music Awards.

“We took advantage of having that show as yet another way of reaching a different audience,” Kolbjornsen said. “They were more than happy to partner with us.”

The PSA was seen by 1.9 million people across the country already tuned in to the award show.

In addition to the PSA, the Telemundo campaign team used in-house resources to engage in traditional media relations outreach efforts to cover print, social and radio outlets.

Telemundo sent out press releases, and shared campaign messages across social media, including the #PlanYourVaccine and #PlanificaTuVacuna hashtags.

The PSA reached 17.7 million people across America on all platforms. The reach included 2.4 million engagements across Telemundo platforms, social accounts and on YouTube.

“Different audiences are more used to different outlets to get their news,” Kolbjornsen said. “So, when thinking through this campaign, we made sure that we were really touching all different points to reach the broader number of people that we could.”

While not all PR teams have outlets like NBCUniversal at their disposal, look at the resources and tools you do have, brainstorm and don’t be afraid to get creative.

“Think differently and (about) how to reach your audience,” Kolbjornsen said.

Kolbjornsen said that at the end of the day, it’s about believing in the objective of your goal, bringing in partners like executives and having multiple ideas.

“Act quickly,” Kolbjornsen said. “Think fast, act fast. And that was also critical to the success (of the campaign) because we knew we were swinging for something that was happening in that moment. We did not have a six-month runway to think through it and see how we could potentially tackle a problem.”

Sherri Kolade is a writer and conference producer at Ragan Communications. She enjoys watching old films, reading and building an authentically curated life. Follow her on LinkedIn. Have a great PR/comms speaker in mind for one of Ragan’s events? Email her at sherrik@ragan.com.

Topics: PR


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