CAMPAIGNS: Court TV offers an inside look at the investigative field

PR Team: Goodman Media (New York) and Court TV (New York) Campaign: Court TV's Mobile Investigation Unit Time Frame: January-Sept. 2003 Budget: Under $70,000

PR Team: Goodman Media (New York) and Court TV (New York) Campaign: Court TV's Mobile Investigation Unit Time Frame: January-Sept. 2003 Budget: Under $70,000

Forensics is a hot topic these days, with television shows like Cold Case and CSI drawing in loyal fans across the country. Court TV is one of the leaders in programs that focus on investigative techniques. To show off that expertise and help local affiliates raise their profile and advertising sales, the network created a traveling marketing exhibit called the Mobile Investigation Unit (MIU) that featured a working forensics lab where kids and parents could help solve a mystery while learning about the science behind fingerprinting, handwriting analysis, and other techniques. "It was created by Court TV to take the excitement of investigation, which is at the core of Court TV programming, and transport it to local communities," explains Goodman Media COO Henry Miller. "One of the beauties of it is that it takes the process of investigation, of solving puzzles and mysteries, and presents it in a way that is family-friendly and playful." Led by an actor playing the character of Frank Lee Forensics, the traveling truck with interactive kiosks visited 21 cities in its first tour in 2002, and upped the number to 23 cities in its second year. Strategy Goodman Media, which is the agency of record for Court TV, wanted to gain press coverage in each market for the exhibit. To achieve that, they relied on the strong visuals they could offer to broadcast media, including having Frank do experiments live on morning shows. "That was a big draw for us," says Goodman account executive Rachelle Savoia. "He was a character with thick glasses and a lab coat, and he could come on and do fingerprinting experiments or DNA sampling." The team also pitched the event as a chance for kids to learn about math and science in a fun way that involved the entire family. Overall, the strategy was meant to raise Court TV's visibility in local markets, which would help draw in new advertisers and provide added exposure to current advertisers. "The visibility around these events is an added benefit that can be incorporated into ad packages," explains Miller. Tactics Goodman helped the MIU gain press coverage at each of its stops by pitching the camera-friendly Frank Lee to broadcast outlets as a guest, and inviting print journalists to come and visit the MIU. Highlighting that the interactive exhibit offered both fun and learning, Goodman's team lured in camera crews and other journalists with the promise of an exciting, interactive story and a light-hearted approach to science. Every appearance was tailored to meet the needs of each media outlet. Results "A lot of stations treated it very playfully," says Miller of Frank Lee's guest appearances. "One station had a reporter who was investigating who had stolen a ham sandwich out of his desk drawer, and Frank Lee helped." In addition to assisting with the ham-sandwich caper, Goodman and the MIU scored 87 print hits and 32 media hits, including outlets like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the St. Petersburg Times. That included 16 appearances on morning shows and 16 camera crews that came out to visit the MIU. The MIU is also credited with helping Court TV generate $1.2 million in local ad sales revenue, 500% more than in 2002. Future With two successful years under its belt, Court TV may decide to keep the MIU rolling. "They are still making plans for next summer, but there is every reason to believe they will do it again," says Miller.

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