What happened when Busy Philipps hosted No Kid Hungry's live telethon

The campaign included more than 16,000 restaurant partners across the country.

Company: No Kid Hungry
Campaign: Dine for No Kid Hungry
Agency partners: Praytell (PR, media relations, social media strategy), Telescope (livestream production) 
Duration: September 2019

Each year, No Kid Hungry holds a month-long fundraiser, in which participating restaurants donate a percentage of proceeds to fund meals for children. To kick off this year’s campaign, the nonprofit organized an hour-and-a-half live show hosted by Busy Philipps, featuring segments from participating restaurants across the country. Free to watch, the stream was available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. 

To raise awareness for its annual fundraiser, No Kid Hungry tasked Praytell with "creating a national moment," said Zoe Watson, a senior director at the communications agency. The goal was to capture the nation’s attention and direct the audience toward an online map of participating restaurants in order to raise money to provide meals for kids. 

The conversation quickly centered on creating a live event that Americans across the country could watch together.

Watson explained that the campaign team started playing around with the idea of reviving an old school telethon, but with a modern twist.

A variety-show experience would allow No Kid Hungry to engage the audience with interactive contests and prizes, such as a $5,000 gift card from GrubHub and a five-course dinner from Noodles & Company.

No Kid Hungry also decided to highlight restaurant partners through live segments, and conduct interviews with owners, staff and guests, filmed at locations across the country. 

Planning for the live show began in April when Praytell began working with restaurant partners to develop segments. But the project still needed a host. 

Enter Busy Philipps. A charismatic actress, Philipps has made a second career for herself via her engaging, relatable Instagram feed.

"[Philipps] is a mom herself, which was important to us," Watson said.

The star, who has spoken out about childhood hunger before, was instrumental in developing the show’s script. The celebrity chef Curtis Stone was also brought on as a co-host. 

For earned media, Praytell reached out to People and the Today show weeks in advance with an exclusive. In the case of People, that meant an interview with Philipps, and for the Today show, a segment with Stone.

Leading up to the campaign, both co-hosts promoted the live show on Instagram. No Kid Hungry also provided restaurant partners with assets, including custom-made GIFs, "so they could spread the word across their platforms," Watson said. 

View this post on Instagram

Fifteen minute countdown to @nokidhungry live! Tune in at 7pm ET/4 pm PT!!!

A post shared by Curtis Stone (@curtisstone) on

Because it was crucial that people tune in to catch the show, No Kid Hungry ran a paid social media campaign, promoting posts across Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. 

The People story, featuring an interview with Philipps, and the Today show piece with Stone both published on September 4, the day of the live stream. 

More than 270,000 people tuned in to watch the live stream across all platforms. More than 170,000 visited the campaign’s landing page, which featured a map of nearby participating restaurants.

Of the 270,000 viewers, 50,000 entered the campaign’s sweepstakes.

"That was a big win for us," Watson said. 

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