Reflecting on Digital Immersion in Denver

Last Updated by Brent Clark on

Streaming services are working hard to steal viewers from the traditional model of television consumption – and many are doing a very good job at it! The digital disruption in the broadcast industry has had a profound impact on consumer behavior - providing consumers the opportunity to view content when they want, where they want, and on what device they want to view it on. In the current media landscape, convergence of media through digital platforms is providing the opportunity to segment markets to target diverse and niche audiences in what is being called a “fragmented media environment.” Having the opportunity to engage directly with digital audiences has led to a cultural shift where we must begin using digital media to its fullest. In my role as Director of Content and Digital Media at WCTE located in the Upper Cumberland region of rural middle Tennessee, I have begun using my experiences within the Digital Immersion Project and attending the Denver Digital Immersion Regional Workshop to learn and employ innovative ways to embrace this digital culture shift.

The opportunity to attend the Denver Digital Immersion Regional Workshop created by PBS Digital & Marketing with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was an incredible training experience. Training isn’t just important, it’s vital to compete in the digital competitive landscape.  Immediately, I met and instantly became friends with some of the brightest and most talented people in the business. The two-day workshop event was filled with an intense learning environment supported by PBS Digital & Marketing which included Max Duke, Leif Brostrom and Dani Iannelli.

After starting each day with a healthy and delicious breakfast, we had the opportunity to hear from various guest speakers from FRONTLINE, PBS Social Media, PBS Business Intelligence, and PBS Development Services. On the first day of the workshop, everyone was filled with excitement given the fact we were all ready to dig deep into the digital realm and all its wonders! It was exciting to meet my fellow Digital Immersion Partners and learn about their various backgrounds and experiences within the digital environment. It was on the first day that we learned how the data landscape is evolving in today’s media landscape, so we could understand how to effectively reach and impact viewers or, as I like to say, create “fans.” We also learned that focusing on a platform-specific goal is key in the digital environment - where we all strive to grow, know, engage, and monetize new digital audiences by leveraging trust, value, and respect.

My favorite part of the first day was learning about audience segmentation and the value proposition it creates from Vice President of PBS Business Intelligence, Amy Sample. In this session, we divided up into groups and identified an audience segment to cater a marketing plan to. Once we identified our segment, we worked together to decide what factors were most important to drive our specific segment to engage with our content. Afterwards, we determined what unique content would be delivered to the audience and our projected outcomes. It reminded me of the process I use when I am producing content with audiences I serve in the Upper Cumberland by presenting emotive-based topics like, relatable dilemmas, thoughts, and ideas, that we often experience in our own lives through the concept of audience segmentation. We then took a digital innovation odyssey and learned how FRONTLINE targets viewers through digital content offerings from Carla Borras and Pam Johnston. We then had the opportunity to learn about social media from Sarah Jacobs at PBS. Once the full day of learning had ended, we all went out to enjoy a fun night together in the heart of downtown Denver with lots of great conversations and reflection on the day’s activities.

Day two of the workshop was invigorating! It started out with a virtual presentation from PBS Development Services and a big takeaway from this presentation for me was what to consider when working with a development team. For example, identifying metrics and online tools that are most important to the success of fundraising. Philanthropy and Corporate Support also play an integral part when working with one’s development team in deciding what to offer sponsors and how to leverage stories of impact on digital platforms. After this presentation, we then had the exciting opportunity to develop and sell a “real world” sponsorship opportunity to a group of Shark Tank investors. Finally, we ended the day with a session on building station collaboration through digital strategic partnerships, which allowed me to dive into my own goals of producing a digital series on Bluegrass Underground interviews by developing a station-wide digital asset management business process for storing and retrieving media.

The Digital Immersion workshop broadened my perspective in the digital ecosystem. We all made it through the two-day experience with a new strategic lens looking at the possibilities of digital content and the value it can create. It was difficult to say goodbye to a group of people I had just met and had the opportunity to get to know over the two-day workshop. What I learned is that we were all more alike than unalike given the challenges we face in the digital landscape. I realize that now, in this moment of time, I was learning to create blueprints of digital content around a well-planned out and articulated strategy.I’ve already been in contact with some of my new friends to learn more about their digital strategies and I look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead as I take what I learned at the workshop and apply it to my Digital Immersion project. I'm so grateful for Max, Leif and Dani for being so supportive and making everyone feel as though their opinions and input counted by creating a safe environment. The investment that PBS Digital made in creating this and planning this two-day event, provided me and the others a chance to immerse ourselves in the digital landscape, which will not only benefit WCTE, but it will also benefit all of other PBS communities represented at the workshop from around the country.

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