5 Lessons from WABE's Most Successful Pledge Drive (Ever)

May 21, 2013

What if Steve Goss were a Kindergarten Teacher?

WABE’s latest pledge drive resulted in 15,393 pledges and $2 million. The results weren’t a coincidence – WABE’s staff tried some new things and had a smart plan to get their listeners and readers pledging away. After noting their huge success, we asked Jason Parker, WABE digital media strategist, how it all happened. Here are five (ok six) lessons Jason shared.*

1. Get digital involved at the beginning
Having everyone involved in the planning process from the very beginning was essential to the success of the campaign, Jason Parker, digital media strategist for Public Broadcasting Atlanta (WABE) said. This allowed his team to find ways that digital could play a daily role during pledge, including using the hashtag #WABEis, which was a way to get the WABE community involved.

2. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good
Jason and his team wanted to tell the story of WABE with videos. Since they haven’t done video before, Jason decided to keep things simple: “Doing what you can, with what you have, and where you are.” And they did,  during the first week of the pledge WABE featured their first video: Trees Atlanta – who promised to plant a tree for every pledge. The video quickly became WABE’s second most popular video of 2012.

3. Have fun 
The videos speak for themselves – don’t take yourself too seriously. Erin Wright, arts and cultural programming assistant for radio, came up with the idea for the videos:

4. Planning counts
The videos were part of an overall plan to connect with the Atlanta community. Many departments worked together. “It wasn’t just a digital effort,” Jason said. “It was everyone. We all contributed, and we all benefited.” 

5. You can’t just “put it on the web”
Total production time on the three, one-minute videos was about 16 hours from concept to completion. A lot of thought and planning went into making the videos, including a production crew of two (Erin and Nick NeSmith - WABE's first ever digital media intern!), video equipment and expertise, and a collaborative attitude.  With the planned time and effort, Jason and his team were able to show that you can’t just “put it on the Web” without a strategy. As a result, WABE’s Facebook fans grew by 10 percent over the two-weeks of pledge, compared to the usual 1 percent; page views went up 62% from the year prior; and WABE’s twitter presence was amplified – check out some of their favorite tweets.

BONUS: Say Thank You! 
At the end, the entire WABE staff gathered to say thanks: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10100328878591857

Jason is currently coming up with “something even more amazing for the fall drive.” If you have ideas, suggestions, or questions you can email him jparker@wabe.org

*Jason also wrote up a blog post about How Digital Services Broke YouTube, & Contributed to WABE's Pledge Success