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 came to an end in October 2017.
All year long, each participant worked 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.
Kristin Benjamin, WUCF's Promotions Producer talks about her Digital Immersion Project experience at TechCon 2017.
They say “wisdom is the reward of experience and should be shared.” I’m not sure I’ve graduated to owl-status, but I do know my time spent at TechCon is one I would like to share with the PBS community. I had the privilege of attending PBS TechCon 2017 in Las Vegas, after being selected to be a part of the Digital Immersion Project (DIP).
To be honest, I always thought TechCon was a conference solely for engineers, but I quickly realized it has a much broader reach. The conference offered sessions covering a variety of topics outside of just new technological advancements, including broadcast, digital and other station management subjects. As you might guess, my interests lean toward digital. At WUCF Central Florida PBS, we’re just getting started in creating digital productions and experimenting with content in the online world. I am so grateful I was able to be involved in the DIP program and attend the conference because it really validated the progress we have made and created a foundation for the projects we have worked on since TechCon.
To set the scene, all the DIP participants arrived in Las Vegas a couple days before the conference to kick off the program. We talked about best practices, experiences, and our own shortcomings. We had great speakers from PBS Digital and PBS Digital Studios who talked about what they do on a national level, but also which local stations are contributing to the PBS digital footprint. Connecting with other stations and PBS, hearing success stories and learning practical knowledge to bring back to our own stations is invaluable.
And that was before the conference even started.
At the conference, I walked away from every breakout with a new nugget of information. From learning how to increase engagement on Facebook Live to supplementing national programming and initiatives with online local content to tips on implementing the cross-platform mindset, there is something to learn for everyone, even if you’re not directly in a digital position. Each session provided the opportunity to ask questions and put the spotlight on stations who are accomplishing new and innovative ways to reach audiences. The conference is also a great way to connect with people from PBS who can share information on changes in resources like MyPBS and Bento.
I was able to create relationships with the DIP participants, but I also connected with many other people outside the DIP program, as well. It’s so fascinating to go to sessions to see what other stations are doing, and to hear the thought-provoking conversation that happens during and after each breakout. There are so many success (and failure) stories that are relatable and can apply to everyone. Plus, you’re able to connect a network of people to rely on to ask questions and bounce ideas of each other.
If you have the opportunity to attend, I encourage you to go. You’ll definitely leave the conference with new knowledge and a sense of inspiration. It’s a truly rewarding experience to be surrounded by people who are all (or have previously been) in the same boat. Although we may come from stations with different sizes, locations, and demographics, we all are trying to achieve similar goals. In the words of the legendary TV film, High School Musical, “we’re all in this together.”