#PMDMC16 Wrap-up and our takeaways

Aug 19, 2016

  Perhaps we're a little biased because it was in our backyard, but we had a great PMDMC this year. With over 60 sessions offered, as well as mini-courses run at DS University within the NPR booth, we at Digital Services had much to discuss with you at the show and amongst ourselves after returning to the office. 

First, we want to thank all of you who spent time with us in the NPR booth throughout the week. Whether you attended a course, played games with us, or stopped by for a chat, it was great to see you in person!

For those of you who weren't able to make it, we've compiled a brief rundown of key themes at the conference. Overall, we consistently saw an emphasis on a test-and-learn approach. Across departments, for both radio and TV, stations are implementing and benefiting from cultures of experimentation. That's coming to life in how teams are formed and operate, in the way stations are engaging their audience, and how they drive revenue.

Three ways we see this coming to life:

  1. OPERATIONALIZE FOR SUCCESS
    There were a good deal of conversations that focused on evolving station teams and processes to enable future growth. A shifting landscape pushes us to experiment, but by making that experiment process-driven, we can determine success and failure.
    Public Radio BizLab's learning plan, what they're calling their "knowledge-building blueprint," and WLVT's build of a cross-functional strategic team both emphasized quicker buy-in and greater efficiency.
    Step one of gauging your own process and designing future experiments is determine what you know now, and what you want to learn. How well is your site doing? What might benefit from adjustment or experimentation? If you're not sure, visit your Station Analytics Dashboard, where we've pulled in data from four different sources. 
     
  2. ENGAGE INDIVIDUALS
    Eleven different sessions used the word engagement in their titles for PMDMC 2016. Especially with streaming data, we now have the opportunity and the imperative to measure beyond total listeners, and into length of listening time and retention.
    What's more, the picture of these listeners is becoming clearer. With 76.6 million millennials in the United States alone, public media is feeling the urgency to introduce themselves and appeal to this critical demographic. Is the solution podcasting, where users have gone up 31% YOY for Q1 2016?
    One area where we're seeing success is within NPR One, where listeners are, on the whole, younger. We're measuring who is listening, when they're listening, and sharing that information with you to drive additional revenue with this new audience. And there's lots to share. We've written more about NPR One listeners and tips on taking advantage of this audience here. 
     
  3. PROVIDE MOTIVATION
    Anne Melvin's breakdown of the science and art of persuasion filled our pages with notes, including six different tactics for persuading your donor database. Fundamentally, she emphasized the importance of making the ask, and, once again, testing and adjusting your message to employ alternating approaches.
    The same could be felt and heard in Cecily Sommers' keynote, where she urged everyone to relinquish fear of failure: "Hold tight to purpose, play loose with tactics."
    In the haze of a pledge drive, we often focus on making giving as easy as possible for the donor. The follow-up question we often asked ourselves at Digital Services is, how can we make it even easier for donors to give more? We observed a significant number of Marketing Form donors give one-time donations, and have launched a feature called Sustainer Upsell. It's designed to drive additional revenue automatically with a modal pop-up after the donor completes their additional donation. Dive deeper into why we created this and how it works here. 

There is lots more to read and think about in PMDMC's full materials here, but these are a few things we'll be reflecting on for the next few months. Thanks again for everyone who was able to join us, and we can't wait to see how you apply these at your station soon.