The LSU Manship School of Mass Communication recently partnered with the Louisiana Department of Health to promote masking with the #MaskUpManship social media campaign.
The campaign began on Twitter with a picture of Manship School Dean Martin Johnson and Associate Dean Josh Grimm wearing masks outside the Manship School. After this post, many students, faculty and alumni of the Manship School posted pictures wearing their own masks and tagging #MaskUpManship.
This partnership was the idea of mass communication senior and Louisiana Department of Health Communications and Special Projects Assistant Sarah Procopio. She chose the Manship School as a partner for this campaign because of the school’s reach with students around the state and communication expertise.
Procopio said as the state moved into Phase 2 during mid-June, she saw an increase in the number of cases within younger people in the state. The goal of the campaign is to normalize wearing a mask in public and promote mask wearing through social media.
“What we want is this positive, collective decision to protect one another by masking because there is evidence to suggest that community masking does decrease case rates and it does decrease the spread,” Procopio said.
Many posts tagged #MaskUpManship included captions explaining why the person chose to mask in public and why it is important.
“The benefits of masking comes when the community at large decides to protect one another and mask up for one another,” Procopio said. “Masking protects others and when others mask, they protect you.”
Manship School Director of Communications Aariel Charbonnet said Procopio reached out to her with the idea for a partnership as a way to promote healthy habits.
“The goal has been really to raise awareness among the Manship community, the LSU community and the Louisiana community at large for masking up, wearing a mask and the healthy habits that we need to practice surrounding this season of COVID19,” Charbonnet said.
Two Manship School faculty members recently published research related to COVID-19 and what Louisianians were doing in response to the pandemic. Charbonnet said the partnership arose in the wake of this research.
“It was such an awesome idea, and it really just took off from there,” Charbonnet said. “It was definitely Sarah’s brainchild.”
Procopio said Twitter is the most popular medium for faculty to post #MaskUpManship posts, but Instagram is the most popular among students.
Mass communication junior Melissa Kim first saw the social media campaign and hashtag on Twitter. She said before she saw the campaign, she was waiting for the official LSU social media account to release a similar hashtag to promote masking.
“When I saw #MaskUpManship, I just thought it was the cutest idea to get people to mask up because it’s a simple call to action, but it also calls upon a specific community that we love and appreciate,” Kim said.
Kim posted a picture with #MaskUpManship on Twitter while running errands in her hometown where masks were not mandatory. Kim’s post was a picture of her wearing a mask in front of an early voting location. She hoped to encourage people to mask up and get civically engaged.
Although Kim said she is not sick, she chooses to mask because it is possible to have the virus and be asymptomatic. She said masking is becoming the new normal.
“I ultimately choose to mask to protect myself, those I come into contact with and those I come home to everyday,” Kim said. “Spreading the message of masking is just doing your part in the community and protecting those around you.”
Kim looks at masks in a positive light by purchasing cloth masks and matching them to her outfits.
“There’s little positives to look at in all of this,” Kim said.
Shortly after the #MaskUpManship campaign launched, posts tagged with #MaskUpLSU surfaced on Twitter and LSU’s social media accounts posted a “Mask Up” graphic. The campaigns are not related, but both are dedicated to the same cause. Charbonnet said when LSU picked up the campaign, it felt like “icing on the cake.”
“I think all of us were really, really happy to see it take off,” Charbonnet said. “We had so many students post some really cool pictures, so there was some really good engagement.”
Procopio said she was proud to see LSU promote wearing a mask in their campaign and taking a stand for public safety. She hopes to continue to work with campaigns like this one to normalize masking.
Charbonnet said some posts also include #WhyIMask, which allowed the posts to become more relatable so students would feel more inclined to post because it is personal.
She said there has been a range of activities and reasons for masks appearing in the posts. Many students post to encourage masking at the polls for early voting, while others tell stories of masking to keep their families safe.
“I’m proud of the way the campaign went,” Procopio said. “I knew the Manship School was going to be great and it really was.”