In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s monumental decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 cases, msnbc hosted a series of Google+ Hangouts On Air surrounding marriage equality from June 17-27, 2013.
Over the course of 10 days, we produced five Hangouts hosted by msnbc talent, each with a specific focus:
- What Does This All Mean? - Thomas Roberts
- Changing Your Community - Chris Hayes
- Both Sides of the Aisle - Steve Kornacki
- From Hollywood to Your Hometown - Andrea Mitchell
- Reaction to the Rulings - Melissa Harris-Perry
We booked 32 guests to join us from across the country, from celebrity activists like actor Tate Donovan, composer Andrew Lippa, and “It Gets Better” campaign founder Dan Savage to real-world stakeholders like Matthew Phelps and Ben Schock, the first gay couple to get engaged at the White House, and all four Prop 8 plaintiffs: couples Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, and Sandy Stier and Kris Perry. Our conversations were also shaped by experts like Tom Goldstein, co-founder of SCOTUSblog, and Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director at GLAD, as well as community advocates like Carter Gibson, who manages the PridePlus community on Google+, and Eddie Outlaw, a day spa owner and blogger from Jackson, Miss. And to engage our countless community members who weren’t pictured, we pulled in questions via Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and msnbc.com with the hashtag #MarriageEquality and fed those questions to our hosts live during each Hangout.
By leveraging our high-quality studio production, connection to the progressive community, and television and digital reach, we were able to drive an original, grassroots conversation surrounding the Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality that no other mainstream media captured. This genuine, raw interaction also informed our on-air reporting for a seamless, 360-degree experience across the msnbc brand. Where else could Melissa Harris-Perry jokingly ask Prop 8 plantiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo for an invitation to their wedding, only to be one-upped by Paul and Jeff’s decision to broadcast their wedding live on the Rachel Maddow Show?
In addition to the value our series of Hangouts provided to our community, their performance by the numbers exceeded our expectations:
- In the six months since the series (July-December 2013), msnbc’s Google+ page has doubled its followers, now at 1.3 million.
- The five Hangouts On Air received nearly 28,000 views on VOD.
- The YouTube promotional video teasing the series (below) received 4.9 million views.