Fred Rogers Productions - Misson and Values
Fred Rogers Productions (formerly the Fred Rogers Company) is dedicated to carrying on the legacy of Fred Rogers, and their productions, marketing, and affiliations largely reflect that (with one notable misstep). Their social media strategy is simple and direct and yet has created quite a following on Facebook among old-time fans of the show.
- Fred Rogers Productions is keenly aware of the legacy of its founder, "a gifted communicator" who tied together multiple fields, "Music Composition, TV Production, ministry, and lifelong studies in Child Development ... to translate complicated child development theories into easy to understand and affirming messages."
- Following from this legacy, the company believes that "kids come first, now and always."
In accordance with its mission, Fred Rogers Productions has continued to produce quality children's programming which both entertain and educate the viewer:
- In addition to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the company currently produces four lines of kids' shows — Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Peg + Cat, Odd Squad, and Through the Woods — in addition to retaining the rights to Mister Rogers Neighborhood.
- Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is an animated show which features "characters and themes created by Fred Rogers" which targets 2-4-year-olds. Daniel Tiger was recently renewed for a fifth season.
- Notably, Daniel Tiger was Fred Rogers' "first-ever character and puppet."
- Peg + Cat is another animated feature which is designed to teach math in a fun adventure format. The show is aimed at kids 3-5 years old.
- Odd Squad is the only live-action format show (apart from Mister Rogers Neighborhood itself) and tells the story of "a high-tech organization run by kids that investigates odd phenomena and sets it right." Like Peg + Cat, the kids frequently use math to solve their problems.
- Through the Woods is an animated show about Rider and his dog, Wolfe, wandering, observing, and sharing their discoveries, like "spider webs, a bunny nest, fireflies and more."
- Mister Rogers Neighborhood is hosted on a separate site. On the first Monday of the month, it updates the library of five viewable shows with early episodes (produced from 1968 to 1975) and on the third Monday of the month it updates with five episodes from the later years (1979-2001).
- Episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood can also be seen on PBS Kids or purchased on Amazon or through the iTunes Store.
- Episodes of all three shows (though not their complete libraries) are also found on the Fred Rogers Productions Vimeo page and Mister Rogers Neighborhood and Peg + Cat episodes are available for streaming to Amazon Prime members.
- Suzanne Masri is the company's Director of Marketing & Communications, overseeing "marketing, branding, and publicity efforts."
- Cori McCulloch is the Marketing Coordinator, managing the company's website and social media accounts, as well as assisting with multimedia requests.
- In May 2018, the Fred Rogers Company rebranded itself as Fred Rogers Productions "to better reflect the company’s growth as a children’s media producer."
Fred Rogers Productions frequently partners with other companies as a part of its marketing strategy; great care is obviously put into forging partnerships that uphold the company's mission, but there has been at least one misstep along the way.
- For example, Fred Rogers Productions is currently sponsored by 529 College Savings Plans, encouraging parents to prepare for their children's futures.
- Another recent partnership is with the North Side's Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, whom the production company gifted a Steinway B piano played by the late John Costa on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
- In the aftermath of the October 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, which literally sits in Mister Rogers' Squirrel Hill, PA neighborhood, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburg and ad agency GSD&M partnered with Fred Rogers Productions to create an ad which featured a message of hope by the late Fred Rogers.
- In 2018, Fred Rogers image was used in a commercial for the Google Pixel 3 smartphone, a move that generated controversy. As one columnist put it, "Rogers was one of few children’s media personalities who refused to exploit kids for profit," in sharp contrast to Google's "exploitative practices."
- The company's Facebook page is very user-friendly, likely expecting that many younger fans might come here first. For example, a Messenger box automatically opens and offers the options of asking a question or just chatting.
- Even so, most of the over 234,000 followers, at least those posting comments, are clearly adults who grew up with Mr. Rogers and post messages of love and support for the show.
- The Facebook profile is updated daily with pictures, videos, and games.
- In addition to announcing partnerships (see Marketing Strategy, above), the company also announces events on Facebook, such as the annual Be My Neighbor Day on August 9th.
- The company's Twitter account, which has only 16,200 followers, mirrors all of their Facebook posts.
We began our research by looking at the websites and social media channels of Fred Rogers Productions to see what they claim as their mission and values. Since what a company says about itself almost never provides the complete picture, we then expanded our research to include op-ed pieces which would provide more objective views of the company. In this project, we found no shortage of sources, and our primary challenge was sorting through them to select those which provided the clearest picture of the company carrying on Mister Rogers' legacy.