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Special Project

Special Project
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

PBS Celebrates My History. My Culture. My Stories

Finalist in Multicultural Community Engagement


Our campaign began with a simple idea: Everyone has a story….

And so, we asked ourselves: What if we turned to PBS audiences to help celebrate American Heritage Months through their personal stories and experiences? And not solely through PBS films.

Building on this idea, PBS developed a User Generated Content (UGC) campaign with weekly themes and calls-to-action (CTAs) to inspire audiences to share a memory or piece of history through a picture or video via their social networks, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. It was also important to us that the campaign not be limited to one month alone, and so we thought carefully about unique hashtags that could have life beyond Black, Asian American, Hispanic and Native American Heritage Months: #MyBlackHistory, #MyAPALife, #MiHistoria and #NativeInspired.

Strategy and Execution

As Public Media, we believe that everyone has a story. And every story preserves a piece of our history and culture. Yet, not everyone has a platform to tell these stories. This campaign became a creative way to invite audiences into the storytelling process, deepening our relationships with viewers and our value to them.

How? By asking questions. PBS developed weekly themes to engage audiences around specific CTAs: e.g. Family: Tell us about someone who inspires you, Friendship: Show us a really good LOL with one of your besties, Inspirational Quotes, etc. Each campaign was customized to audience interests, their unique histories and culture, while maintaining a consistent message from PBS that invited users to share stories from their point of view.

These themes were brought to life through graphics that featured captivating photos along with calls to action. And some graphics were made available to all PBS Member Stations and Content Partners to personalize (with their own photos to best reach/ resonate with their local markets).

PBS took the lead on promoting national CTAs across social networks. We constantly shared and replied to images submitted by viewers as a 'thank you' and to build excitement for the campaign. This strategy quickly turned the campaign into a two way Q&A with audiences about incredible photos and memories.


Combined, our campaigns reached over 21 million users on Twitter alone, stretching well beyond PBS' base of 2.2 million and inspired over 2K user generated posts (photos, videos) across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There were heartwarming stories from children to their parents, grandparents to their grandkids… pictures & videos of art, food, graduation ceremonies and birthday reflections. Incredible stories from families across the country sharing what their history and culture means to them.

That included, to our delight, a few celebrities also jumped in to participate, including: Miss Black USA, the first Jamaican WNBA player, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuru, and Hudson David Yang of Fresh off the Boat!

By re-thinking the way we looked at audiences, from passive consumers of content to engaged media contributors, we were able to transform the way we told stories and engage audiences around them.


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