Earlier this Spring, I was selected to attend the 2017 PBS TechCon in Las Vegas through the YoPro Scholars program. My decision to apply came from an inner desire for two things; growth and knowledge. Less than a year out of college, I was excited to be working in the public media sector as a young professional, but didn’t know everything about the industry. The YoPro program sounded like a great way to learn more about PBS and the digital media landscape, while growing my own network by connecting with other young professionals around the country.
After reflecting for the last month on the opportunity, here are the main takeaways I left with:
The Importance of Networking: As a college student, you continually hear versions of the phrase “it’s not about what you know, but who you know”. Over the last year, navigating the post-college world has shown me the truth behind that phrase; building connections & relationships with folks within your industry is key to building a successful future. Being able to surround myself with professionals from stations across the country provided invaluable networking and connections for my future career as a public media professional. I was able to brainstorm new ideas with other young professionals, learn from other stations’ mistakes, and build connections for future collaborations all within the half-week time frame.
The Family Within PBS: One of the many realizations I had during this experience included a moment of clarity around the unspoken bond provided by the PBS name brand. Every person I met at TechCon had a passion for public media, whether that manifested itself in programming, digital outreach, or operational analysis work. Regardless of job title, yearly income, or station location, each person I met had a deep commitment to providing an innovative experience for people around the country who rely on public media as a way to consume content. It reminded me of a rather large family dynamic.. One that stretches around the USA and impacts millions of households every year.
We’re All In This Together: Throughout my college experience, I had opportunities to take part in media conferences that focused on innovative strategies and best digital practices. Most of the presentations I attended during these conferences felt driven by competition and economic gain, rather than overall quality of impact for local communities. Attending the PBS TechCon felt like I was attending an event where everyone who had found digital success was giving out free advice to anyone who would listen about how they could scale and replicate their results. Collaboration was the main focus, rather than competition. “We’re all in this together” seemed to be the overarching theme of the event, followed closely by “technology and digital strategy”.
Innovative Digital Landscapes Have No Rules: Advocating for specific digital strategy can be tricky - the rules change every day as the technology we use changes, essentially rendering previous strategy outdated and useless. Due to these constant shifts, the “rules” of the digital game could be summarized as non-existent. We follow basic guidelines, but are always having to innovate and change our platform approaches to catch up. Being in a space with other professionals who work in the same industry solidified my understanding of the concept that digital media has “no rules”. Best practices were shared throughout the conference, but many differed depending on audience, demographics, budget, and the content being produced by each station. Especially with VR emerging as a new avenue for content distribution, we’re constantly having to innovate and change our strategies to match the changing platforms, regardless of our station location. Having a space within TechCon to connect with fellow professionals to express the frustration and excitement around this need for constant innovation was amazing.
I’m so grateful for the experience I had - as a new employee working at PBS, I felt supported and encouraged in my choice to join the public media landscape by attending the conference as a YoPro Scholar. If you have the chance to apply for this opportunity next year, please do!
For more information about YoPro check out the new website!