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Hooray for this week’s Survivor on CBS (season 27, episode “My Brother’s Keeper” shown on Wednesday, 11/13/13)! I have been looking for a current reason to feature the show here.

Unfortunately, the record-sized impact of Typhoon Haiyan and one of CBS’ responses gave me an opportunity to congratulate CBS and this program and showcase one influential media organization’s commitment to health and helping.

As many of you know, Emmy Award-winning Survivor is one of the longest running “reality” television programs. The show puts a group of strangers on a remote island location (including a 25th season in the Philippines) with no connections to the world outside of their environment and challenges them to “outwit, outplay and outlast” each other. Exceptions include seasons, like the current one, that have twists. For this 27th season, half of the contestants participated in other seasons of Survivor and the other half are loved ones (e.g. spouses, children or siblings) the former contestants brought with them.

Twist or no twist, the show’s contests for rewards and immunity, limits in food and shelter and use of strategy (and sometimes lack of strategy) make for an entertaining viewer experience. Player motivation? A grand prize of $1,000,000. Not bad for about five weeks of work….and watching.

Disaster Relief PSA, credit: CBS, “Survivor”

After this week’s episode, Jeff Probst, the show’s Emmy Award-winning host was featured in a public service announcement (PSA) encouraging viewers to help the real-life survivors of the disaster caused by Typhoon Haiyan. (See clip below.) Typhoon Yolanda (as it is named in the Philippines) hit the Philippines on November 7, 2013 and continued to have an impact in other parts of Asia.

This PSA is part of a program called CBS Cares, which started in 2000. CBS Cares is a multimedia project that uses their talents to share key information with the public about critical issues.

From the CBS Cares website’s “About” page:

While there are some core causes that have been addressed for years, CBS Cares is also committed to looking for under-served causes where we believe that the resources and talents within CBS can make a difference. The starting point for every PSA–before scripting begins–is close consultation with experts on the frontline of each field to learn what messages they feel are the most important to convey.

While their focus is not only on health-related topics, they have touched on a fair number of them. Their topics include diseases (like breast cancer, obesity and depression), screening/prevention campaigns (like HIV/AID awareness and violence prevention), and disaster relief (in Haiti and now the Philippines). Their efforts include PSAs and useful information organized under “Topics” on the CBS Cares website.

I applaud how CBS leverages their resources to support their audiences and fans and for wanting what they do to matter. I also appreciate their reliance on topic experts (hopefully including some folks with public health training) who can help ensure that they are using best practices for health communications and community outreach and working with reputable resources.

Kudos to CBS and Survivor for their public health (named by me) communication campaigns!

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