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Dolly To The Rescue!

What hasn’t Dolly Parton done? The extensive list of professional and other philanthropic feats is growing for the country music superstar from Sevier County, Tennessee. Pretty soon, she might be able to add: financier to a vaccine to end a global pandemic.

In April, Parton donated $1 million to a team of researchers at Vanderbilt University working with pharmaceutical giant Moderna. According to The Washington Post, the donation was in part due to Parton’s relationship with one of the researchers, Naji Abumrad. In 2013, Parton was in a car wreck that left her with minor injuries, but led her to seek medical advice from Abumrad and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Abumrad told her this spring about research the university and Moderna were conducting towards a COVID-19 vaccine, to which Parton contributed $1 million.

Among Parton’s achievements as a philanthropist, her Dollywood theme park is credited with revitalizing east Tennessee and the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. Her Imagination Library, which provides free books to young children, just celebrated its 25th anniversary and was the subject of a documentary produced and directed by UT JEM associate professor Nick Geidner.

Now, Parton is in the spotlight again for her donation, as the pandemic continues to soar globally with new cases and deaths. She was on NBC’s Today Show to talk about her part, which has also garnered plenty of attention worldwide.

But just what has the conversation been like? We enlisted the help of Social Studio, in the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center, to find out. We used a search of the keywords “dolly” and “vaccine,” “dolly” and “covid,” “dolly” and “moderna,” “dolly” and “corona,” and “dolly” and “vaccine.” to get a gauge on the conversation. This by no means is an exhaustive search, but the term “dolly,” which has been widely used alone is not specific enough, and was left out of the search.

The keyword search delivered 119,887 posts across available social media platforms in the past seven days. On Nov. 17, alone, when the news was announced, the search found more than 92,000 posts. Not surprisingly, the total number of posts were 77.7% positive and also prominently featured the words shown in the cloud below:

Interestingly, the term “vaciiiiiiiiiine” is derived from a tweet by a student at the University of Maryland, whose tweet went viral with that phrase.

We’ve also talked many times about issues that we’ve covered that have not resonated with younger audiences. This one does, with the 25-34 age demographic, the demographic talking most about the keywords searched. Females have also posted about this topic just under 2:1 more than their male counterparts.

In a search for good news, this is certainly it. And Parton is a person those in Tennessee, particularly this end of the state, hold near and dear to their hearts. We’ll continue to monitor this and other topics from our socially distanced perch in the College of Communication and Information.