Getting Comfortable With Being At Home
You remember those first days of lockdown? That rudderless feeling of not knowing what comes next? Wondering how you’re going to sustain the things you’ve been working on? And how you’re going to survive being around your family 24 hours a day?
That was the dark and stormy mood hanging over our first lockdown meeting with the FDR Presidential Library.
What does a museum and research archive do when no one is allowed through their door?
But something so interesting was happening in those early days of lockdown. People who couldn’t go out into the world were more open to letting part of the world into their lives besides Netflix.
They wanted to engage because people are social and that’s what we do. Those of you who know me know I also work in theater. It’s a specific crowd that goes to the theater. And it’s a much smaller one that will watch streaming theater on their computers or smart TVs.
But in those first days (and months) of lockdown, people started watching streaming versions of the content they used to consume in person. I was keenly aware of this, and talking to FDR about it, they immediately saw the possibilities. The dark and stormy mood lifted and ideas started flying around the room.
It was an incredible moment, and an instance where editorial content is so true to the organization, and so in demand from the audience, that it extends brand in ways we didn’t imagine at the time.
We wanted to engage people. We did. A lot of them. In some cases increasing audience size for programming by 5000%. For a program about Herbert Hoover. Who knew? That got Washington’s attention. And apparently some of the other Presidential Libraries don’t like us so much now. I’m okay with that.
Within the month, At Home with the Roosevelts grew to a brand that included two weekly newsletters, a weekly video series, originally intended for social media but picked up by CSPAN American History TV, and an a slew of interactive, educational, and fun activities for young people so they could learn and stay out of their parents’ way for a while.
And while no one was walking through the doors, thousands of people were visiting FDR’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram accounts, and making use of the substantial resources of their website at previously unseen levels.
That’s what authentic storytelling can do for a brand.