Austin PBS Digital Strategy

Discovering the way forward for Austin PBS
Expertise

Client

Austin PBS

Timeline

2 months

Challenge

Austin PBS went through a major update of their physical space and lead staff and wanted to update their web presence to match. However, they needed direction on how to bridge the gaps between their channels as well as how to best showcase their diverse content.

How might we unify the digital presence for Austin PBS?

Scope

Our scope included stakeholder interviews, facilitating stakeholder alignment, and recommendations with action items for the new digital strategy.

Constraints

We met with stakeholders for the alignment workshop, stakeholder interviews, and presentation, for a total of three meetings. The rest of our research was done independently or from documents provided by stakeholders.

Implementation

Our Goal

Our ultimate goal was to create a comprehensive digital strategy that would represent the Austin PBS station as a whole.

Our Solution

After analyzing their current web presence and interviewing stakeholders, we realized several things would unite their brand and allow their digital presence to grow and strengthen the content.

Results

Our recommendations were:

  • Transition internal messaging from a non-profit organization to a media-first organization
  • Create a station-wide culture strategy guide
  • Unify all websites on a single CMS with a station-wide brand guide
  • Implement a content recommendation AI-engine

Our Process

Understand

We interviewed stakeholders about the digital presence of Austin PBS, and we also facilitated a stakeholder alignment workshop.

Initial Stakeholder Interviews

We discussed the current and past strengths and pain points of Austin PBS’ digital presence and uncovered key areas they wanted to improve:

  • Improve user experience with better accessibility and better engagement
  • Highlight donations and getting new, reoccurring donors is a key point for the organization
  • Be seen as community partners

Stakeholder Alignment

For our stakeholder alignment workshop, we created several categories on a whiteboard to define their current goals and pains, and future goals. We then had stakeholders individually fill out sticky notes and enter their thoughts, feelings, and best answers, and put them on the whiteboard. After all thoughts were put up, the sticky notes were grouped by their subjects. The largest groups pointed to thoughts and issues that were the most pressing.

Explore

Competitor Analysis

We reviewed direct and indirect competitors. Competitors were determined by their status as a non-profit or by their similarity of content.

Our review determined similarities that were successful, as well as areas where competitors excelled such as content branding and organization.

We discovered that the most compelling websites had clear branding across all digital properties so that they felt cohesive.

Further Stakeholder interviews

We continued interviewing more stakeholders within the organization in rapid fire questionnaires about their roles, department pains, and goals for the future.

We heard from long-time staff members about a strong connection to the organization and desire to help viewers. But we also found each department seemed siloed and focused on being a non-profit rather than serving content.

Non-Profit Organization Vs. Media-First Organization

While the CEO wished to move forward by focusing on the diverse, local content, many department leaders expressed their understanding of the company in it’s historical role: non-profit.

Insights and Opportunities
1

During the new changes being implemented at Austin PBS, there was a disconnect between whether the organization should focus on it’s non-profit status and donations, or leverage the range of media it produces for a new range of donors.

Station-Wide Unity

Department leaders had clear goals and directions they wished to go in. However, there was a lack of a station-wide goal being stated. The directions and goals themselves were divided. Some worried the diversity of content could dilute the station’s focus, while others felt the diversity was the station’s strength.

Insights and Opportunities
2

The lack of unity observed across all sites stylistically also extended to the departments and channels themselves.

Confusing Layouts

Stakeholders concerned with donations and pledge drives noted that users would often get confused between their donations and the PBS Passport- their subscription option.

Insights and Opportunities
3

After reviewing the website, it was clear from feedback that the positioning of the Passport call-to-action and donation call-to-action confused users trying to access either.

Our Findings

We presented our findings to Austin PBS, highlighting the points with the highest impact:

  • The strength of interdepartmental cohesion and goals, but lack of cohesion across the station
  • The importance to move from a non-profit organization competing for the same donors as other local non-profits, to a media-first organization
  • Disconnect between each department’s web presence – their branding and content organization, leading to a disconnect from both each other and the overarching PBS organization
  • Areas to improve website content layout to encourage and promote regular donations

Recommendations:

  • Create a station-wide Culture Guidebook – uniting the station under the “Austin PBS” way, to move not only towards interdepartmental goals, but towards a station-wide goal
  • Create a station-wide comprehensive Style Guidebook for branding, site architecture, and content tone
  • Unite all websites under one CMS that could allow enough customization for producers, while being easy to learn and edit for anyone in the station
  • Use a content recommendation engine to further engage viewers, as well as give each department the opportunity to showcase other departments’ content to their benefit