Nine Network Can Show and Prove

Amy Shaw and the team at the Nine Network in St. Louis have posted a very cool video on community engagement.

Scene 1: A man, much in the vein of Ben Stein’s infamous economics teacher scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” drones on about ratios of public participation to community involvement as he taps the projected image of a PowerPoint slide with a ruler. Cut to…

Scene 2: Nine Network staff getting out of the office, convening conversations and listening to diverse voices in their local community.

Followed by…

Scene 3: Amy Shaw and President & CEO Jack Galmiche discussing how they understand the role that the station plays in their local community, and how they can work with other community institutions to strengthen the civic health of St. Louis and it’s citizens.

Hats off to the Nine Network; they sure know how to show and prove.

 

Social Media: A Primer for Public Media

By now you probably have seen countless articles on the web touting the X Number of Most Important Social Media Marketing Sites, or some variation thereof. Maybe you even have eagerly perused some of the takeaways from the recent iMA Conference that led into this year’s SXSW Interactive Festival. But if you’re anything like the average person, it’s all you can do to keep up with Facebook and the seemingly endless profile and privacy changes it periodically institutes for its users.

Mastering the latest online trend or social media tool can be a lot of work, particularly when new ones seem to pop up every other week. Without understanding the utility of these tools and what they actually do, you could spend a lot of time using social media with little result.

As Internet access has moved from a stationery experience to a mobile one, social media activities have kept pace. Social networking, blogging and video or photo sharing have been around for over a decade, while the rise of location-based social networking and micro-blogging has coincided with the development of smart phones and tablet computers. However, improvements in wireless connectivity and operating systems coupled with the explosion of mobile apps have blurred the lines between home-based and on-the-go web experiences.

Social media users are nowadays just as likely to download pictures from a camera to their desktop computer and then upload onto Flickr (fixed web), as they are to take a photo on a smart phone and post it to Facebook using an app (mobile web). That being said, understanding the – albeit short – history of social media user activity on the fixed vs. mobile web can be key to developing a more nuanced and targeted approach to different demographic groups with your online engagement efforts.

So NCME throws its hat into the ring: over the coming weeks this blog will explore “The 5 Most Important Social Media Activities for Public Media.” We will focus on five core activities that every station should learn to better engage online with their communities. And we will feature a selection of sites and apps you can use to master these activities. My colleague Bryce Kirchoff leads us off with a look at location-based social networking: Why PBS on Gowalla Matters.

When we complete the series we invite you to take our Social Media Challenge! How it works: share your stories of success using social media and we’ll feature the best station examples of online engagement right here on this blog. Blog readers can cast their vote for the best online engagement campaigns and NCME will feature your top three choices in our Social Media Challenge webinar this summer.

 

Why PBS’ Use of Gowalla Matters

In late February, PBS entered the world of location-based social networking by joining Gowalla—a mobile platform that allows users to “check-in” at physical locations they visit and share photos, highlights and tips. The application boasts more than 1 million active users and walked away with the coveted “Mobile Award” at last year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival. It hopes to garner 5 million users by summer.

While an early innovator, Gowalla is far from alone in the mobile social networking market. FourSquare, The Hotlist, Gbanga and Facebook Places are just a few on a growing list of location-based applications that seek to attract users by blending physical and digital spaces.

And attracting users they are.

FourSquare has 7.5 million users, with roughly 35,000 people joining each day. The growth is not surprising considering last year nearly 39 million Americans participated in social networks on a mobile device. By 2015, that number is expected to reach more than 79 million.

What are the opportunities for public media?

The growing popularity of geo-location services offers public media opportunities to interact with new communities in new ways. Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that young adults, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to go online wirelessly than other groups (more than a quarter of U.S. teens access the Internet from a mobile phone). Overall, African Americans are the most active users of mobile Internet—and their use is growing at a faster pace than other groups.

Additionally, trends suggest that media content will be increasingly tied to physical spaces. FourSquare allows users to submit photos with check-ins, YouTube has been tying content to location for years and, just last week, NCME’s Ann Alquist discussed how Broadcastr maps audio content based on where it was created or what it references.

Imagine: A mobile user checks into your city’s art museum on Gowalla and they’re offered a clip your station produced about the institution’s Picasso exhibit. Or, a high school student visits Washington D.C.’s Vietnam War Memorial and is prompted to stream a preview of a Ken Burns film. Both are potential parts of public media’s future.

Beyond providing another platform for distributing content or reaching new audiences, location-based social networking helps public media build relationships—a paramount priority for any organization seeking to engage the people it serves. Participating in geo social networks creates opportunities for stations and producers to connect with communities in new ways; it pushes conventional boundaries for what public media “is” and creates new relevance for quality content and the indispensable value stations offer to local communities.

How to get started:

Inspired by PBS’ foray into Gowalla? Join the site (you can opt to connect via Facebook). Need a quick overview of location apps? We found a Location Apps for Dummies article (see both part one and part two) that offers quick differentiation among 12 popular tools.

When you’re ready to dive in, consider friending NCME on FourSquare.

 

POV Awards Grants for ‘Most Dangerous Man’

American Documentary | POV has awarded seven grants totaling $50,000 to public television stations to support local programming and community activities around the Oscar®-nominated film The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. The grants are part of the second phase of POV’s national campaign to engage communities in dialogues about issues the film addresses. Funding for the campaign is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

KNME – Albuquerque, N.M.
KNME will collaborate with the University of New Mexico and Albuquerque Public Schools. The station will broadcast a panel discussion on ethics and freedom of the press, and promote the documentary’s April broadcast on the public affairs program New Mexico in Focus. Host Gene Grant will interview Daniel Ellsberg via satellite uplink from KQED, using questions submitted by University of New Mexico Ethics in Journalism students and History of Media students, who will be in the audience. A panel of working journalists will discuss the issues.

KQED – San Francisco, Calif.
KQED is partnering with University of California Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and the Northern California chapter of the ACLU to hold an afternoon of discussion and debate about WikiLeaks, the legacy of the Pentagon Papers, national security, personal freedom and the rule of law. Ellsberg will talk about these issues on a panel that will also include university professors, government officials, reporters and other experts from across the country. The Most Dangerous Man in America also will be screened as part of the event.

Maryland Public Television – Owings Mills, Md.
MPT will engage journalism students at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merril College of Journalism with a screening and panel discussion on the station’s Direct Connection program. Audience members will participate in a live “Tweetup” with a hashtag to track the discussion. Prior to the event, the dean of the college will assign related projects to students.

WFYI – Indianapolis, Ind.
WFYI, along with the Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College, will host a community screening and discussion focusing on issues of transparency and freedom of information; Ellsberg will Skype into the event. WFYI will also reach Central Indiana listeners through the production of an episode of the local public affairs radio show No Limits.

WGVU – Grand Rapids, Mich.
WGVU is partnering with the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, journalism and political science classes at Grand Valley State University, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, where a public screening and panel discussion will be held. Ellsberg will participate via Skype, and the event will serve as a “Tweetup” for some of the attendees. WGVU will also produce special editions of its local public affairs television program, Newsmakers, and radio call-in show, the WGVU Morning Show.

WVIZ – Cleveland, Ohio
WVIZ has forged a partnership with Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State, as well as five local libraries and the Lakewood Public School District, to present a screening and panel discussion. The event will be accessible to viewers across the nation through real-time videoconferencing, posted on the WVIZ/PBS ideastream® website.

WXXI – Rochester, N.Y.
WXXI will collaborate with New York State universities Geneseo and Brockport, along with Rochester-area colleges, to hold a public screening followed by a Q&A with one of the film’s directors in-person, and Ellsberg via Skype. WXXI will also broadcast a radio interview with Ellsberg and use the encore broadcast of The Most Dangerous Man in America for its spring pledge drive.

Questions about the grant program? Contact Eliza Licht at POV.

 

Top 10 Tech Trends for Public Media

Author, speaker and digital expert Amy Webb presented ten technology trends that matter to public media during her remarks at the Integrated Media Association Conference in Austin, Tex. The trends illustrate just how quickly mobile devices (including tablets) and expanded web technologies like HTML5 will change the landscape in which public media offer content and services.

Webb created a nifty webpage that summarizes her remarks; it includes the Top 10 Trends, as well as links to resources and examples. Pay attention to number eight and, specifically, how Amy advocates an approach that focuses on “hyper-personal” instead of “hyper-local.” (Her “Hyper-Local Hype Cycle” graphic is definitely worth a look).

Learn more about Amy’s work at http://www.webbmediagroup.com/.

Goodbye Public Interactive, Hello NPR Digital Services

This morning NPR announced a re-imagination of its Public Interactive division at the Integrated Media Association Conference in Austin, Tex. The group will now be known as NPR Digital Services.

The change in name comes with an expanded mission to work with stations to “…grow and engage audiences across platforms.” NPR Digital Services will offer content, technology and resources so stations may provide more value to their communities by engaging thought leaders and focusing on mission-driven local content.

Read the full announcement.

 

#FAIL? There’s No Shame in Learning from It

A key component to successfully engaging with your community is knowing your value, knowing what you bring to the table as part of the community. We learn what value we bring by evaluating our successes and failures continually, making improvements, replicating success, adapting over time.

At NCME we’ve been thinking a lot about success stories lately, due to our recent launch of the Stories of Impact layer on Public Media Maps. We’re thrilled to provide a tool to help stations demonstrate their successes and to highlight the nationwide impact of public media work. Stories are integral to our engagement work in public media, and stories of success aren’t the only ones out there. We struggle to open up about our failures, but there seems to be a trend of people clearing the way to help us all learn from that other, equally important side of the coin.

In the interest of shining a bright light on failure in order to learn and improve, Engineers Without Borders Canada has started Admitting Failure, a website that allows organizations to come and share a story of failure in the interest of helping all organizations collectively improve. Their motto? “Learning from what’s not working. Creating space for what is.” There is some relief in calling a spade a spade, and novelty in seeing others publicly do so. But the site also emphasizes the importance of seeing failure as an opportunity, and those who are submitting their stories of failure are making a point to cover the lessons learned, not just to paint portraits of disaster. A similar public offering will be available at the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference next week (one of several conferences in March at which you will find NCME staffers). I’ve noticed several of the sessions specifically deal with stories of failure, and bringing those lessons to light for the nonprofit sector. Public media is taking steps in this direction, too: according to the PBS SPI Twitter feed, they’re working on a session about lessons learned from failure for the PBS Annual Meeting.

We can learn the most from ourselves and others when we assess our work honestly and authentically. Author Nina Simon (The Participatory Museum) described some incredible engagement work she and her students did in a recent blog post. Her recounting of the projects this team took on contains great gems of information about place-based engagement and collaboration. In addition, she writes with refreshing frankness and transparency about what worked, what the challenges and surprises were, and why.

Not all organizations feel the freedom to put their failures on a public stage, and perhaps yours is one. What are the ways in which we can infuse the openness of that public platform into our work?