When the COVID-19 virus arrived in Louisiana in March, it hit the state like a sledgehammer.
By mid-April, we all began to recognize there wasn’t going to be a quick resolution. The virus began to take its emotional toll as well. For many, the battle against COVID-19 is more than fending off the virus itself; it’s dealing with the emotional impact a pandemic brings along with it. The isolation necessary for proper social distancing can increase loneliness, leading to feelings of hopelessness and depression.
How could LPB best serve citizens across our state and still practice safe social distancing? LPB began working on “The Helpers.” The idea was born from the words of PBS legend Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” If LPB could showcase short videos of people coming together to help during this time of crisis, perhaps we could lessen the feelings of fear, anxiety, hopelessness and loneliness and maybe they could even serve to inspire others to help in these desperate times.
Since LPB is a statewide network, we decided to collect our stories in two ways: people could submit their own stories via a dedicated webpage (www.lpb.org/thehelpers) that is similar to the American Portrait project or LPB’s Digital Team could collect the stories using safe social distancing practices. While our IT team developed the website and story submission protocol, LPB actually got the ball rolling by turning to our own staff. Staff members identified people they knew of who were making a difference and the digital team started telling their stories. At the same time, LPB’s marketing and social teams began an awareness campaign that included multiple on-air promos, a statewide press release, social media posts and newsletter and magazine articles.
LPB decided to make “The Helpers,” a digital short series best served by presentation on our Facebook page and YouTube channel. The new “Series” feature offered by Facebook is perfect for episodic content and using that, LPB has published 10 episodes to date, reaching 29,000 followers. Creating “The Helpers” playlist on our YouTube channel easily allows subscribers to discover the content, which has received more than 1,600 views so far.
LPB is currently preparing for “The Helpers” Series 2.