WASHINGTON and New York: PBS has partnered with Dan Klores Communications to extend the seven-part miniseries The War beyond the television set in order to better inform the public about World War II.
Airing through November, filmmaker Ken Burns' The War recounts a history of WWII through the first-hand recollections of American veterans. An ongoing community outreach and educational campaign uses that "as a jumping-off place to inspire people" to learn more, said Lea Sloan, VP of communications for PBS.
Like the series itself, much of the two-year War effort revolved around storytelling as a way to help the film resonate across generations, said DKC MD and account lead Joe DePlasco.
To initiate dialogue, DKC arranged advance screenings and filmmaker conversations in more than 50 communities across the US, he added, at venues including high schools, military bases, and museums.
These events - attended by history teachers and reporters - forced people "to step back and think about war" and The War in a very personal way, said DePlasco. "They really got people to start talking... [People] began to have a stake in it."
Another key campaign element, he noted, was a partnership with The Library of Congress' Veterans History Project (VHP). For that, veterans' families and friends were encouraged to record interviews for VHP's permanent oral history collection and to upload them to PBS' StoryShare Web tool.
The War has also presented PBS member stations with a chance to engage local communities, noted Sloan. Dozens of PBS stations have produced documentaries with regional angles, she said, and many - including Burns' production partner, WETA in DC - are promoting the miniseries with their own initiatives.
"It's a way to take something that's national in scope and create a real anchor to the community in which it's being aired," Sloan explained.
DKC is also handling the series' media relations efforts. PBS and corporate sponsors General Motors, Anheuser-Busch, and Bank of America are supporting The War with a $10 million ad and promotional campaign.