BET's '106 & Park' connects with fans online

NEW YORK: When BET's video countdown show '106 & Park' celebrated its 2,000th episode on August 20, the network also launched an online social community, 106 & Park Connect.

NEW YORK: When BET's video countdown show 106 & Park celebrated its 2,000th episode last night, August 20, the network also launched an online social community, 106 & Park Connect. The new site is part of BET's overall strategy to expand into online initiatives, said Bernadette Simpao, the manager of corporate communications at BET Networks, but it is also a way to engage viewers and help them connect with each other.

"We're with the viewers every day [with the show]," said Michelle Clark, manager of publicity for BET Networks, "and this is the digital way to do that."

BET's in-house communications team is reaching out to trade media and using the Internet to reach consumers, focusing on BET's overall digital goals for the trades, and emphasizing the 2,000th episode for consumers.

"We like the timing of [the 2,000th episode] and it is such a big milestone for us," Simpao said. "We know people are going to be tuning in for that episode," which featured appearances from Jennifer Hudson, LL Cool J, and Keyshia Cole. 106 & Park's hosts Terrence and Rosci introduced the new site during the show.

By reaching out to bloggers and other digital outlets that attract the show's 18 to 35, African-American target audience, BET encouraged people to tune into the show by building buzz around who would be appearing as surprise guests (Busta Rhymes, Terrence Howard, Soulja Boy, and Keri Hilson, among others).

But while buildup to the 2,000th show is now over, the campaign for 106 & Park Connect is just getting started. Continued consumer outreach will focus on print publications, including Sister 2 Sister and Word Up!, Clark said. BET also plans to pitch trade media with updates on page views and other successes of the site.

"The PR campaign will take more shape as the site continues to grow," Simpao said, adding that video uploads and contests will also be added to the site.

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