Ok, ok, “Star” is a dramatic overstatement, but “Confessions of a Lady With a YouTube Channel” just didn’t have the same ring to it. While I may never have the following of the woman who unwraps toys, the kids who make slime, or any other legit YouTube celebrities, I have learned a few things since we launched the VPR POP Talk Channel earlier this year.
- You Can’t Measure Impact by Numbers Alone – I’ve spent the better part of the last decade explaining why you can’t look at ROI alone to measure the success of patient-to-patient programming, and our YouTube Channel has been a great reminder to practice what I preach. The number of emails and private messages I’ve received from viewers who want to share their health journeys or talk about what an episode means to them is proof that our reach extends beyond the website’s activity. It makes sense; a brave woman who empathized with the inspiring words of colorectal cancer survivor Lindsay Norris, wasn’t ready to share her story in a public space like YouTube comments (nor would that format have allowed for the robust conversation we enjoyed in a private setting). I now not only know that I can’t gauge the value of our video interviews by numbers alone, I also know that behind each subscriber or “number” there is a very real person who likely has a very powerful story of their own.
- You Deserve the Best, and You Can Have It – One thing we’ve heard time and again on VPR POP Talk from people like stage 4 melanoma survivor Rebecca Pendarvis or caregivers Rachel and Ryan Wilson whose infant daughter was diagnosed with neuroblastoma is that you don’t have to be a celebrity – or a millionaire – to get the best care for your condition. Both interviews are powerful examples of people who received a terrifying diagnosis, researched the expert in that field, and picked up the phone to ask them to be their doctor. Was it simple? Absolutely not. There was red tape and tears and months spent far away from home, but these inspiring stories are proof that it is possible and that it is always worth it to advocate for yourself.
- The Camera Might Add 10 Pounds… But Who Cares?! – As a Journalism major, one of the things that pushed me from the “broadcast sequence” and my dreams of being the next Diane Sawyer into the “advertising sequence” was seeing myself on camera. Granted, I have the pleasure of working with some of the best lighting and camera people in the business on our VPR Creative Group side, but it wasn’t just knowing that they had my back that gave me the courage to get in front of the camera again. Maybe it was the devil-may-care attitude that comes with middle age (and being 42 and pregnant for most of our filming), but I think the biggest factor in feeling good in my own skin is knowing that it’s not about me. It is such a true honor to help tell the stories of those who have taken a frightening diagnosis – a debilitating stroke, HIV or a child with cerebral palsy – and chosen to not only live an empowered life but to share their stories so that others may also live with hope and purpose. If I could be armed with that knowledge and still worry about how the bags under my eyes looked, well…then I really would have a reason to not be able to look at myself.
I look forward to learning so much more about YouTube as we continue to look to our most valuable resource – the patient – to enlighten us on matters that impact us all. If you have an idea of something you’d like to see featured on the VPR POP Talk Channel, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or – better yet – subscribe to VPR POP Talk.