Consumer Approach

It's important to reinforce our brand every time we talk to consumers in print advertising, promos, emails, tweets, direct mail, events, etc. We do this by delivering an experience as rich and unique as our content itself.

Communications Approach

Our audience is unique, so our communications must be, too. PBS audiences are curious, passionate, intelligent and looking for ways to grow and discover the world. Give them what they want by showing them how PBS can open their eyes and broaden their horizons. They know the usual story,the average pitch, the common plotline – intrigue them with a new perspective, a surprising detail or a fresh approach.


Our communications are part of an ongoing conversation with Americans from all walks of life. The tone of our communications should be vibrant, contemporary and inviting. Ours is the voice of a trusted friend and companion, a fellow explorer. We are approachable, straightforward and authentic.

How we look helps convey who we are in a big way.
Here are five ways to express the spirit of our brand through design.

Take them places

Examples of detached vs. experiential design

Transport the audience with design

Evoke the spirit of the PBS brand with creative that invites our audience to step into an experience. Take them so close that they feel like they are part of the moment or bring them a perspective that's unexpected and new.

View Video Example

Consider strength in letters

Examples of cluttered vs. clean typography

Whenever possible, use the PBS Explorer font from the multiplatform brand package.

When that's not possible, always use typography that works with it. Choose fonts that are well designed with a contemporary and approachable look and feel; fonts that work well in broadcast, print and web. Avoid anything trendy, fancy, old-fashioned, mechanical or hard to read.

Show our true colors

Examples of muted vs. vibrant and colorful colors

Work with the palette

You'll need a full spectrum of color to best support and reflect the diversity of our content. When it comes to colors, always start with the custom PBS brand package palette. If additional choices are called for, focus on colors that reflect or complement the palette: strong, contemporary, bright and vibrant – not somber, muted, unnatural or overly saturated.

Worth a thousand words

Examples of staged vs. immersive imagery

Let imagery speak for the brand

Choose video clips and still photographs that are inviting and immersive. Avoid staged shots that seem inauthentic or expected in favor of images that capture a real moment and put our audience in with the action.

View Video Example

Give them room to breathe

Keep it simple

Simple graphics and layouts enhance our audience's experience. Avoid overloading them with tons of copy, photos and other elements. Instead favor clean, uncluttered design.

How we sound is another way to deliver a PBS experience.
Here are six ways to speak in the PBS voice.

Dive right in

Examples of brochures with traditional vs. experiential writing

Invite the audience right into the experience

Immerse people in the PBS experience with your writing. Rather than traditional descriptions, favor a "you are there" approach. Our viewers want to go beyond "watching TV," so deliver written communications that reflect a deeper level of engagement.

Awaken the audience

Examples of program guides with explanatory vs. evocative language

Use evocative language to involve them

Draw your audience in and get them thinking for themselves with evocative, engaging language. PBS opens people up to new possibilities; we don't tell people how to think. So, invite your readers or listeners to get involved with questions, open-ended concepts and stimulating ideas.

Share the experience

A journey of the heart and mind

Examples of teleprompters showing writing that is literal interpretation of exploration vs. writing that is inclusive

Tap into all sides of the brand

PBS offers everyone a rich and multi-layered experience. Let your writing reflect that. Far beyond a literal exploration of the physical world, we give people a chance to discover arts and culture, investigate current affairs, re-live history and, ultimately, grow and learn about themselves. Don't sell this complex value short by limiting your writing to clich├ęd metaphors about travel and exploration.

Shake off the past

Examples of webpages with formal and scholarly language vs. conversational and friendly language

Leave the ivory tower behind

Fight the negative stereotype that PBS is a stuffy, pretentious, old fashioned know-it-all. Conversational language best embodies who we really are: vibrant, contemporary explorers – just like our audience. So, favor simple, short, clear words (instead of "nonfictional account" say "true story"; instead of "utilize station community resources" say "use our local tools"). And, avoid weighing down your writing by including too much information. Boil it down to the essentials to keep things moving.

Leverage your experience

As you write, apply these rules:

  • When referring to PBS, its programs, services, products or stations, use the brand name: PBS. Do not use "public television" or "PTV."
  • Do not spell out "Public Broadcasting Service," unless required to do so for a legal document.
  • The possessive of PBS is PBS'.
  • PBS always appears in uppercase letters, except when listing the URL:
  • The first time that PBS is referenced in copy, the ® must be used; subsequent references to PBS within the same copy do not require the use of this symbol.

Remember some tried and true copywriting tips

Grab their attention upfront. Write in short sentences. Be specific and focused. Use active verbs. Be simple and straightforward. Consider using bullets and numbered lists. Avoid industry jargon and clichés. And, as all good writers know, having someone proofread the final draft will ensure that your words deliver the message just as you intended.

Looking for a quick way to make sure your communications capture the spirit of the brand? When developing or reviewing your work, ask yourself:

  • Does it spark my curiosity, make me itch for more?
  • Does it draw me in and make me a part of the experience?
  • Does it have spirit, passion, excitement?
  • Does it speak to me, open me up to something new?
  • Does it feel real, not trumped up for added drama?
  • Does it feel unique, possible only on PBS?
  • Would it inspire me to act (tune-in, support, etc.)?