Innovative Ideas & Amazing Possibilities: The Digital Media Advisory Council
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What do you get when you gather a group of smart, thoughtful, people from public media stations around the country in a room to talk about the future of digital media?

The answer is a lot of innovative ideas and strategies and a clear sense of the amazing possibilities on the horizon for public media.

For two days in November, members of the PBS Digital Media Advisory Council (DMAC) gathered for its annual Summit at PBS Headquarters to discuss the future of the digital space in public media. We shared successes and challenges and spent some time defining our role in advocating for digital in public media. Members serve as a voice for stations large and small.

As a newly minted member of the council, this was my first DMAC Summit. I filled pages with notes about new program and funding ideas and information learned from presenters. I also shared feedback and ideas from my experiences at WPSU.

A few highlights from the Summit:

  • We heard from PBS Digital & Marketing about work they are doing to better understand how younger audiences consume media as well as how we can successfully incorporate services like Passport.
  • We heard from a representative from Facebook Strategic Partnerships who helped us think about ways to use the platform creatively to reach our desired audiences. He noted that successful organizations are creating platform-specific content.
  • We heard presentations from DMAC members about successful events around phenomena like Pokémon GO and ways those events brought in people who had never visited their stations.
  • DMAC members shared advice and questions to ask as we navigate the digital world. The most important ones for me were: what are your goals and who are you trying to reach? It’s very easy to get caught up in new technologies or the latest social media platform and lose sight of our goals and how these trends can help us serve our communities.
  • We discussed ways to work across platforms to collect data and how to use analytics to determine whether we are reaching and serving our audiences.
  • We heard from PBS Digital Studios about ways they can work with stations to develop projects, give advice and help them navigate digital. PBS is a great resource for stations.
  • We discussed the exciting sessions coming up at the PBS TechCon (the digital and technology conference) which will be held April 19-21 in Las Vegas.

I realized that things that in the past would have been seen as hindrances for smaller stations (fewer people, less funding) don’t have to be limitations in the digital space. There are ways to use the size and ability to move quickly to your advantage.

Innovations in digital media are already impacting every aspect of the work we do. We have the opportunity to use cutting-edge technology to tell compelling stories in new ways, to broaden and diversify our audiences, to engage with our communities in ways we couldn’t before, to reach new supporters and find new ways of fundraising.

The possibilities are endless, which can be daunting, but it’s been important to me to focus on how digital can help public media better fulfill its mission of “using media to educate, inspire, entertain and express the diversity of perspectives.”

Above all else, DMAC reinforced a realization I have had several times during this past year when I have been a public media Next Generation Leadership Fellow. That is, that as public media stations, we are our best resources. Stations in major and smaller markets are doing incredible work, taking chances, making mistakes, learning from them and having great successes.

One of the most important roles of the DMAC is fostering this kind of station collaboration.

In a time when technology, platforms, and modes of storytelling are changing rapidly, it’s important for all of us in public media to be sharing our successes and challenges. No one has all the answers, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, but we can all be working together to learn and grow and make an impact.

Because, as our very wise DMAC Chair Colleen Wilson noted: Digital is our present. Digital is our future.