The Digital Immersion Project, developed by PBS Digital with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is a unique opportunity that mixes in-depth training, hands-on workshops, and collaborative mentorship to improve overall expertise in digital strategies and tactics. The professional development program also focuses on strategic and organizational tactics, with the selected participants being able to draw on the project’s learnings and a national network of public media contacts to further digital success at the local level.
2017 was the first year for the project, bringing together 25 public television professionals from all around the country. The participants first gathered at TechCon in Las Vegas this past April, and have been working individually, in topical cohorts, and with mentors ever since. The first iteration of the project was completed at the end of October 2017.
All year long, each participant has been working on a Digital Strategy exercise that takes the project’s learnings and maps them to the station’s goals, complete with tactics and deliverables. We are featuring just a few of these success stories for their system peers to learn from and gain a little inspiration.
Below, enjoy Jeff Tucker's story! As Idaho Public Television's Director of Content Services, he chose to tackle his organization's workflows and strategy head-on.
My Digital Immersion Project admittedly started out an impossible task. Max Duke and Leif Brostrom of PBS, as well as Ami Kim of the Community Idea Stations (WCVE), a wonderful and patient mentor introduced to help me, all cautioned not to take too big of a bite. I’m no dummy. With that kind of input from those heavy hitters, I thought I’d better take a closer look at what I was attempting. My project fell within the Organizational Cohort so it was to organize something station-wide.
Organize a station-wide Digital Strategies Group to tackle digital projects and issues
Begin by building strategic promotion across all platforms to better program and promote digital media to our online and over-the-air viewers
Assembling the group was actually easy. I invited all who were interested in digital issues at IdahoPTV. Almost 20 folks showed up to participate. The issues and ideas ranged from social media organization to promotion workflow to online content. Essentially the entire promotional process from start to finish; just with digital added in. There were no naysayers. I wasn’t overly surprised at that fact. But it did make it clear that everyone felt this was an important endeavor.
As I began to dig into the ideas and suggestions I realized that our workflow processes were all over the road and work was being repeated by multiple departments with different timelines. For instance, episodic promotion is handled via paper and tape (no stone tablets here!) to the other side of the road using PBS Source to download content for social media and other digital platforms. To the consumer, it all looks great. Internally, it’s inefficient. I have a feeling we’re not alone in this dichotomy of workflows. This is the project we decided to focus on.
Even though I was warned by the professionals (Max, Leif and Ami), I was not to be detoured. I had begun pulling the string and wasn’t about to stop now. But I realized I had to accomplish or at least start the process for the second half of my project deliverables which was to build strategic promotion across all platforms to better program and promote digital media to our online and over-the-air viewers. Still, we had a full plate from the buffet of projects we wanted to tackle. But I narrowed it down to the question; what does a cross platform workflow accomplish for Promotion and Programming? This question gets to the core of updating our workflow in Master Control and Traffic and loops in Promotion to help identify the efforts needed to effectively communicate our work. It involves staff from Programming, Engineering, Communications and Production.
Even though our forward motion was in fits and starts we were able to assemble the group and ask the first question. And in the end we’ll greatly benefit, although it will have moved a few mounds of peoples’ cheese. The knowledge gained from this project assisted us in different areas too. Through the DIP program and what I learned through communications on our Slack channel, at PBS TechCon from our webinars and from PBS and my mentor, opened my eyes to more of what is out there. Thanks also go to CPB for making the journey possible.
Because of other unexpected and/or important station work that came up during this project my efforts were sidetracked more than a few times. For many of the disruptions I was able to implement things learned about digital communications. Besides the main organizational effort and Digital Measurement Model exercise we also;
Science Trek-Monthly Kids Science Series with over 1.8 million visits/year
Worked with producer to morph into a digital first production
In conjunction with our Education team, started a Facebook page for teachers to better use the series as a classroom tool and to build engagement with IdahoPTV
Produced spots highlighting digital resources
Fundraising spots reminding viewers that costs to produce programming are similar for online or over the air
More in development
Implemented new twice monthly e-news tool
Focus on design once, use many times
Communications Staff Changes
Through staff attrition gained a full time content person to focus on stories and press relations for our existing outlets plus begin to focus on digital including a “voice” for our social media
Focus on Living and Aging in Idaho
Partnered with university geriatric conference and health care directives nonprofit to
Built broadcast schedule with over 20 hours of programming for the month of September and October focused on aging issues
Build list of statewide partners to share posts with during the month of programming
Promote on air, in print and digital outlets
Presented at University conference
Idaho Experience - New ongoing series similar to American Experience
Start series on Social media to build audience, broadcast to follow
Hired [art time “start-up” producer to build strategy and brand
Met with American Experience Digital team to identify tactics for social media
Surpassed goal to have 1,000 followers in first month
Reorganized ongoing production resources in order to devote time to IE
Created a memorandum of understanding with our state historical society, the foundation for history in our state, for the use of photos, venues and expertise
Contracted with Idaho firms and individuals to provide historic research, documents and photos for segments
Embark on the production of a teaser segment for use by development and for public presentations to gauge audience interest in the series
There were many takeaways from the project. As we move forward our Digital Strategies Group will meet more often and tackle a variety of issues. The digital world is upon us. No one disagrees with that fact. Bringing older process and workflow up to speed is the part of the project that will benefit IdahoPTV in the future.