Twice a year, the Media General NBC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, helps viewers protect privacy with this clever document shredding promotion.At this spring’s event, over 4,000 vehicles dropped off 130 tons and donated $5,700 to a local children’s hospital for the priviledge.
Lots of stations report on identity theft. But WCMH Columbus, Ohio (DMA 32) decided to do something about it. Five years ago it created NBC4 Shred-It Day, and it’s a textbook example of a promotion that reinforces the station’s brand while providing a genuine service to viewers.
It’s also elegant in its simplicity. How simple? Viewers tote their outdated personal documents to a central location and promotion partner Shred-It Mobile Shredding and Recycling destroys them for free. The event proved so popular that ever since, the station has repeated it twice a year, spring and fall.
“Last Saturday over 4,000 vehicles dropped off 130 tons of personal documents, says WCMH Vice President of Marketing Janna Buckey. “Clearly there’s a big appetite for this service in Columbus.” The station estimates over 1,000 tons of documents have been shredded since 2004.
Most of the shredding took place “on location” at Ohio State University’s James Schottenstein Center, where the entire fleet of nine Shred-It Mobile vehicles stood ready to gobble viewers’ documents — as long as they obeyed the rules:
- Five boxes of documents per household.
- Private consumers only, no businesses.
- Boxes must be closed to prevent spillage.
- Boxes must be of reasonable weight.
Compared to feeding 10 sheets at a time through a typical office shredder, the service is a huge timesaver. Shred-It Mobile vehicles are like giant wood chippers. Bulkier items like floppy disks, CD’s and videocassettes are transported to Shred-It headquarters where they are presumably fed to some Shredder of Mass Destruction, the stuff of a Stephen King nightmare. But I digress.
“Volunteers transport the viewers’ boxes to the Shred-It vehicles on handtrucks,” says Buckey. About 40 of the volunteers are WCMH employees. The rest come from the Kiwanis Club of Columbus. Security and supplies are provided respectively by Columbus Police Reserves, Kohl’s and Lowes Hardware Stores.
“We’ve featured sponsors for some of the events, but not on a cash basis,” says Buckey. “So far it’s been purely promotional partnerships.”
Because the service is free, viewers are encouraged but not required to donate to Columbus’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This year viewers donated $5,700, pushing the five-year total to almost $36,000.
Frankly, this is one part of the promotion that could stand improvement. At 4,000 vehicles $5,700 comes to less than $1.50 per car. Because consumers might typically pay up to $85 dollars to destroy five boxes of records, a “suggested” donation of $10 or more would help a lot more children and still represent a big bargain for viewers.
Stations wishing to imitate this promotion might also expand it to a larger Spring Cleaning effort, tied to revenue-generating partnerships. And to assist such creative emulation, WCMH’s Janna Buckey has graciously offered to answer readers’ questions about the mechanics of the Shred-It promotion. You can contact her by clicking here.
Market Share by Arthur Greenwald is your weekly stimulus package. Every Monday we showcase innovations and inspirations in local TV. What’s going on at your station that others need to know about? Write to Arthur at [email protected]