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 will complete 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.
Karen Mell, KCPT's Online Content Director, wanted to grow audiences and better measure the impact of their digital first series so she constructed a ‘life cycle’ model that could add to the before and after phases of digital production.
How did you choose what you wanted to focus on?
When I applied to the Digital Immersion Project, I really wanted to learn how to better grow our digital video series reach across platforms and channels. We’d done several digital series but I was underwhelmed by the number of video views we were getting and overwhelmed by the sophistication level of internet marketing. So this idea of a digital series ‘life cycle’ model that could add to the before and after phases of digital production came about by wanting to grow our audiences and better measure the impact.
What steps did you take towards achieving your goal?
First, I learned a lot about what others were doing and got inspired at PBS TechCon. I’d seen the Digital Measurement Model presented previously but its value really didn’t sink in for me until I started working with it. I opted to use a forthcoming video series as my test case, researching past performance for recent series and setting targets (using the Digital Measurement Model). I worked with the series producer and a group of staff beginning about eight weeks out from the series’ Oct. 18 premiere to create an audience building strategy. A summer intern did the hard work of documenting all of the workflows involved in the production process and that work was integrated into this project. We also set up a Trello board that encompassed the all of the activity around the series rollout and had regular weekly check-ins with the team.
What are your most valuable takeaways from your DIP experience?
The opportunity to meet, collaborate and learn from my counterparts across the system, both at TechCon and throughout the course of the project, was really valuable to me. The Digital Measurement Model, a practical framework that can be applied to almost any project, is something I will definitely continue to use (see below). Through this experience, I’ve learned to focus more on goal setting and outcomes and to use creative ways of engaging audiences (and worry less about mastering all Internet marketing technology).
How will your station benefit from your participation in the project?
The knowledge gained throughout this project will support our station’s digital-first production model. Applying a ‘life-cycle’ measurement and clear goals means more targeted content distribution and audience engagement. This focus will help us better use our resources. In addition to the video series work, I’ve already applied the Digital Measurement Model as a new monthly reporting format to each of our three main websites. Previously, we were comparing general metrics around past performance. Following this project, we will now view each site’s clearly defined top level goals, show how each site’s purpose differs, and measure more effectively our activities in helping us meet those goals. And, I have a great list of contacts to reach out to in the system, which will be beneficial as we continue to evolve.