Local that Works

Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit and digital news organizations in the U.S. LTW includes an annual contest and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local civic journalism.

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TPT - Twin Cities PBS
Public TV
Anne Guttridge

Minnehistories was created to share the many history stories TPT is known for telling, but in a format that is structured to capture and maintain the audience’s interest while scrolling on TikTok. To do so, videos are scripted and edited with eye catching visuals and archival material. They allow for stories of important pieces of Minnesota history to have a wider reach and find new audiences than they could on our broadcasts. They also highlight under told stories, such as those of BIPOC histories in Minnesota.

We have one person dedicated to creating content and managing the account. Typically, three TikTok videos are posted in a week, but Minnehistories are posted more infrequently because of the research and editing time they take to make. With research, scripting, filming, editing, and moderating comments, each history video takes about 10 hours, and one is posted every few weeks.

People want to have fun and learn new things on TikTok, and these videos offer new, surprising pieces of information in a small amount of time with fast-paced cuts and graphics made to grab and keep audience’s attention. These posts invite intrigue and prompt organic engagement because they contain information people want to share with others.

One important part of the Minnehistories is that that process does not stop with the creation and posting of the video. Engagement with the audience is key. Comments are monitored, and the video creator engages in conversation with those who comment on the video, answering questions to dig deeper into the history, sharing memories, and on-the-spot fact checking. This helps build a relationship with the audience and allows the content to be more alive than broadcast content could ever be.

While reflective of Twin Cities PBS’ brand, these posts do not feel brand-forward. Instead, they remind viewers of the quality content they know and love from our brand. By posting history content to TikTok, we reach not only our Twin Cities viewers, but also find audiences nationally and internationally.

With any history content, TPT aims to educate and connect. Even with these short histories, we meet these goals. The Minnehistories are well-researched and provide information on important places, events, and figures that are connected to our community. As viewers share their own memories, ask questions, and engage with our content, they are connecting with each other and with TPT, which shows one way the station uses history to help shape connection in our community. This is apparent in the history of the Metrodome when viewers reflected on their experiences under the Teflon sports dome, as well as our video on Frederick M. Jones, when viewers shared their admiration for the Black inventor and their surprise that they had not already learned about him.

Additionally, because of the nature of TikTok, as a station we can have a dialogue with our viewers and engage with them one on one. It reminds our local audience of who we are and what we represent as a PBS station. Ultimately, it provides a service to TikTok audiences by educating and entertaining them.

We do know that we are receiving significant engagement on TikTok with over 50,000 account followers and multiple posts drawing more than 100,000 views, some exceeding one million views.