Federal Union Expands on Previous PR Efforts with ‘They Work For U.S.’ Ad Campaign

A screenshot from the ad shows a federal employee speaking to children. A screenshot from the ad shows a federal employee speaking to children. NTEU

One of the largest federal employee unions is launching a television ad campaign to highlight members’ work in an attempt to combat what it considers misconceptions about public servants.

The National Treasury Employees Union will run a series of 15- and 30-second public service announcements highlighting the day-to-day work of federal employees, entitled “They Work for U.S.” The campaign is similar to previous efforts by NTEU over the years, most recently in 2015, but president Tony Reardon said this year’s iteration will be significantly broader, reaching more than 10,000 local TV stations and cable providers.

Reardon said for the campaign in 2014 and 2015, TV ads aired 4,294 times on 38 stations, garnering 638 million impressions, according to television rating company Nielsen. Similar radio spots aired 1,200 times on 14 stations, garnering 5.7 million impressions.

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This year, the PSA campaign has been sent out to more than 10,000 local TV stations and cable providers, and NTEU again will partner with Nielsen to track how many people see the ads. Reardon said the intent of the campaign is to counter anti-federal employee rhetoric that is at times pervasive among Republican officials and lawmakers, particularly as Congress debates the fiscal 2018 budget.

“We want to counter the rhetoric around things like ‘swamp draining,’ and foster a more candid and productive conversation about the role of the federal government,” Reardon said. “Take Hurricane Harvey, where the important role of federal workers is front and center as feds assist in the response and recovery efforts, both through their agencies and as individual volunteers.”

The ads aim to show federal employees as real people who provide valuable services to taxpayers, not just in the D.C. region but across the country.

“[Feds] find this annual budget dance to be very demoralizing, and they always mention to me how disruptive it is to the taxpayers, to the American citizenry they serve,” Reardon said. “These PSAs are our opportunity to provide a reminder that these are middle class workers, they are not just in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia corridor, and that threatening these folks with budget cuts and [reductions In force] and shutdowns really threatens the services they provide.”

NTEU will run ads in both English and Spanish. The union has also set up a website, www.TheyWorkForUS.org, where visitors can watch the PSAs and read about the work that federal employees do at a variety of agencies.

CORRECTION: The original version of the story mischaracterized the nature of the campaign, which is actually an unpaid PSA campaign.

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