Project Description

Case Studies

Early Screenings & Strategic Messaging Secure Top-Tier Coverage for Impactful Historic Series


For the fourth installment of National Geographic’s award-winning anthology series, “Genius: MLK/X,” SMITHHOUSE led the domestic publicity campaign and turned the spotlight on the timely and impactful series. As a trusted partner for a variety of their titles over the last few years, SMITHHOUSE took the task on as the network’s agency of record, understanding that a title of this significance would require sustainable coverage across top-tier press.


The stories of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X have been shared cinematically time and time again, so SMITHHOUSE took a different approach. Our goal was to highlight the aspects that made this show unlike those in the past — specifically drawing on the parallels of each man’s journeys, as well as the stories of Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King. 

Our team focused on pitching the uniqueness of the show’s portrayal of two individual paths toward the same end goal, but with different means of getting there. Since many people are unaware that the two men had one encounter in real life, we understood the impact of this meeting in our messaging and delivery. 


SMITHHOUSE led the entire PR campaign for the show from pre- to post-launch, supporting its weekly two-episode releases across its eight episodes. In addition to building extensive press exposure around the premiere, our entertainment PR team released exclusive clip previews of various episodes and held interviews with New York Times mid-season and The LA Times in conjunction with the finale. 

Our PR team capitalized on the timeliness of the series’ topic as the Civil Rights Act celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, and the discussion around black history education has been prominent across the country. With the show’s premiere debuting during Black History Month, our team executed a strategic trailer launch and celebratory posts and publications on MLK Day before widely releasing the trailer across the press circuit.  

The team strategically pitched and connected impactful press with the cast, executive producers, and showrunners leading up to the premiere and throughout its four-week run. Our primary strategy was to offer our media contacts early screeners of the show, inciting them to be invested as partners from the very beginning and throughout the show’s run. 

SMITHHOUSE also secured two features with TIME Magazine by offering them an exclusive photo from the show of the men’s historic meeting. Peniel E. Joseph, the show’s consultant, historian, and author of The Sword and the Shield, led the conversation about the impact of that meeting in real life, enlightening audiences with historical context to build momentum leading up to the premier.


In addition to the show’s multiple launch events — from the premiere in Los Angeles to the Paley Center for Media in New York, SAG, and the African American History Museum in DC — SMITHHOUSE partnered with Dotdash Meredith’s  Black Affinity Group to host a free screening of the show with a panel of the cast and showrunners. As a result of the uplifting event, we landed two major features in Entertainment Weekly and People, which amplified the show’s exposure to the next level.

By sharing screeners of the full series with key press outlets early, SMITHHOUSE was able to facilitate a stronger connection to it. Great reviews from these various outlets helped lead to more features, which allowed us to give the series the top-tier attention it truly deserved. 

Other key features included: 

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