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NBC's Parks and Rec Churns Out Digital Content

  |  January 18, 2013   |  Comments

The prime-time comedy series uses its own story elements to cultivate digital content for its socially engaged audience.

A story line in NBC's Park and Recreation, a prime-time comedy series that follows small-town bureaucrats in Indiana, has been given its own digital life to engage fans waiting for new episodes to return January 17 in a new time slot.

The story line, Rent-A-Swag, focuses on a business the character Tom Haverford creates for online clothing rentals. Or, as its Pinterest page describes, "High-end clothes rentals for teens, tweens, and everything in betweens."

The Pinterest page features images of Aziz Ansari, who plays Haverford, in multiple poses in various outfits. The page has 5,500 followers and 40 pins. One of the most popular pins has 11 likes and 19 repins.

The page is clearly geared to fans of the series, but also targets users looking through the Men's Fashion category on Pinterest, NBC says.

In addition to Pinterest, the fictional clothes rental business has its own website, Tumblr, Facebook page and photo gallery on NBC.com.

Multiple Rent-A-Swag elements include "Coming Soon" messages. Joya Balfour, supervising producer at NBC.com, says that's because NBC will be building out the sites with content from the show's writers around the end of February.

The Rent-A-Swag Pinterest page launched six weeks ago to coincide with the Season 5 episode that introduced it.

The main Parks and Recreation Pinterest page launched about a year ago, Balfour says. Additional Parks and Recreation boards include character boards, Leslie's Wall of Inspirational Women and Ann's Boxes Full of Exes.

Another Parks and Recreation story line to receive the Pinterest treatment is its Treat Yo' Self Board. NBC says it built this Pinterest board to highlight over-the-top items in response to a popular Season 4 episode in which characters treat themselves to luxury items once a year. This board does not utilize any original content and is instead sourced purely from repins and external sites.

Digital content for the show overall also includes a newsletter and a biographical website for a character that moonlights as a saxophonist.

These activations target fans who are socially engaged, but also reflect extremely loyal viewers.

"That's the great thing about Parks and Recreation. It's kind of the strongest social show online for NBC -- it does really, really well across social networks," Balfour says. "Fans really love these little nuggets we give them. It's kind of like the new water cooler. We have had a lot of success with this and great involvement from the show."

That includes a Twitter post with 837 retweets and a Tumblr post with 1,900 notes.

In fact, Balfour says Parks and Recreation's Tumblr is the most popular Tumblr for all of NBC.

"It's great for a show that isn't the highest rated, but is the most fan active for Tumblr," she says. "It's just one of those vanguard shows for social across the board. It has a cult audience that really likes social media."

NBC says its team live tweets East Coast broadcasts as well as schedules tune-in and engagement posts for the West Coast.

Additional NBC shows with a Pinterest presence include The Voice, Fashion Star, The Office and The Biggest Loser.

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Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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