David Harkins

David Harkins

Dr. David L. Harkins is a social scientist researching the human experience in systems and culture. He is an experienced executive coach and consultant, passionate educator, and keynote speaker. Through his teachings, inspiration, and guidance, he helps individuals and organizations identify and connect with their potential to make a meaningful difference in their communities.

Mister Rogers remixed for a new generation

PBS Digital Studios released a video mashup of Mister Rogers by artist John D. Boswell today. The video called Garden of Your Mind (see below) is an autotuned tribute featuring clips of Mister Rogers talking–almost rapping, actually–about the power of imagination. It was created with the support of The Fred Rogers Company.

“Brilliant” is the first word that comes to mind, especially after watching it three times.

The tune is catchy, but the brilliance isn’t the music or the video. It’s the bold move of PBS and The Fred Rogers Company to reach out to a different–and younger–audience with Mister Rogers’ message in a new and unique way. In an era where large, older nonprofit brands don’t seem to have the courage to find relevancy for younger generations, these two organizations lead by example.

The fact is, audiences change. The mission of an organization may remain mostly the same over time; however, if consideration isn’t given to how the organization’s message is best delivered to new audiences, the message will fail to connect. Many long-established nonprofit organizations are so steeped in tradition; all they want to talk about–even to their new audiences–is how things are done to achieve the mission goals. They forget to educate their audience about why the mission exists in the first place.

Fred Rogers never forgot to explain the why. He knew that for a message to be heard and understood, it had to be delivered in a way that connected with its audience–old and new. Parents need to see the value in the message, but that same message must connect with the kids. Today’s younger parents may not connect with Fred Rogers the way we Baby Boomers do, but they know his name. Their children have likely had little exposure to Mister Rogers’ message, his sneakers, or that trademark sweater.

I’m willing to bet that this changed today.

Tonight, as they begin their bedtime routine, I imagine thousands of Gen X and Gen Y parents calling their young children around the computer, playing this video, and head-bobbing along as they watch their toddlers gleefully dance to Garden of Your Mind.

Mister Rogers, who died in 2003, would surely approve.


Featured Image Source courtesy Fred Rogers Company. www.fredrogers.org

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