NCME News Hub Blog Has Moved

To access the NCME Blog, please go to http://blog.mediaengage.org/ and find news and information about community engagement and public media.

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.

 

Toward an Engagement Ethos

I once had a professor who used a handful of favorite mantras.  One that he repeated most often went something like this:

“The things that made you successful up until now are not the things that will make you successful in the future.”

While that sounds counter-intuitive, it encompasses the notion that we have to change and evolve with the times and the contexts we’re in.

A similar theme recurred at the recent iMA conference. Sometimes the conversation focused on adapting to emerging tools, such as Amy Webb’s presentation about technology trends. Other times, the conversation focused on getting better at everything from innovation to collaboration to social media, leveraging networks, and creating multi-platform content.

It can all be a bit overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. These conversations have one thing in common: the challenge to change and evolve with the times and contexts we’re in without compromising the things that made us successful in the first place.

More specifically, how do we maintain and reaffirm the skills and standards that help us successfully curate and distribute content of the highest standard while simultaneously developing the skills to successfully engage our communities and strengthen civic life?

With your help and CPB’s support, we’ve discovered that deeply engaged stations tend to behave in certain ways. They put the community first. They cultivate an engagement ethos–a mindset and internal culture for engagement. Some have always behaved this way–it’s in their organizational DNA. Others realized that future success required something different than past success. They changed who they are as an organization and their way of being a part of the community.

Making this change is hard work. Like change in our personal lives, changing organizational culture requires vigilance and a commitment to a core set of key behaviors. To learn more, watch this brief video. Then adopt an engagement ethos as the first step toward building even stronger stations, stronger local service, and stronger communities.

And that professor I had? He probably followed his own advice, which is what made him a good teacher and why I still remember his mantras.

 

NCME’s Desire Vincent Attends Launch of UN Women

In February, NCME’s student employee, UW-Madison senior Desire Vincent, was a delegate at the United Nations’ 55th Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. Although Desire was not there as an NCME or public media representative, her experience was relevant to some amazing community engagement efforts in public media. ITVS has been doing some great work with their Women’s Empowerment screenings in 2010, and we know more great things are coming soon from them in this arena!

As Desire describes below, what she learned at this globally significant meeting reflects key aspects of successful community engagement efforts. Her realization that being invited to be heard and speaking up could give her a greater appreciation for her own life experience highlights the importance of listeningnot only as a listener, but also from the perspective of those being heard.

Continue reading

Social Media: Part of Your Disaster Preparedness Plan?

In January we hosted two webinars that addressed disaster preparedness in public media: one about the CPB-funded SAFER project, and another about the Meta-Leadership Summit for Preparedness. (Our webinar archive provides links to these and other past webinars from NCME.) Both webinars brought out some great issues and opportunities for public broadcasting stations when it comes to being a vital part of communities in times of crisis. We’ve included a page on our site that brings together information and resources for using engagement principles to keep your community safe.

If you’re exploring ways to strengthen your ties to the community through disaster preparedness, there are many resources that can help you make social media a part of your plan. The SAFER project provides some great instruction on the use of social media by stations for station continuity in emergencies. Social Innovation Conversations recently posted this podcast in which Jeannie Stamberger from The Disaster Management Institute at Carnegie Mellon University provides examples of successful social media use in times of crisis, including use of social media to correct misinformation.

NCME/iMA February Webinars: Web Analytics

We’ve got two great webinars coming up this month in our ongoing series with the Integrated Media Association (iMA), both on how public media can use web analytics to make informed decisions (and further engage communities!). Wednesday, February 9th we’ll be tackling the topic of “Using Web Analytics to Drive Business Decisions” with Eric T. Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified. Wednesday, February 23rd, we’ll look at the ways public media organizations have taken advantage of web analytics information and tools such as The Analysis Exchange to measure their success.

Register for “Using Web Analytics to Drive Business Decisions.”

Register for “Tactics to Track Digital Performance from NPR, PBS and The Analysis Exchange.”

Network Mapping: Crucial to Your Engagement Work

Author Beth Kanter (The Networked Nonprofit) gives some great advice about network mapping in this recent blog post. The exercise of mapping your network (detailed by Kanter in her post) can strengthen your work across several parts of the community engagement framework – particularly when it comes to understanding your assets and value as an organization, building relationships across your community, and collaborating with others.