Monday, August 04, 2008

Why National Goals Matter

Today's topic is two interrelated industry-wide goals.

1. The Grow the Audience Project
2. The 3MG - 3 Million Givers - Project

Actually, the Grow the Audience Project doesn't have a goal yet, but it will have to for anyone to know if it is a success.

Industry-wide goals are an interesting beast. On the surface, they sound great. Then you get down to questions such as, "who benefits from having 3 million givers?" Or who benefits when public radio has an average audience of 2,000,000 listeners? The answer is relatively no one.

Sure, the big national numbers help CPB justify federal investment in public radio and they help get funding from some foundations, but they don't mean much to individual stations or program producers. Why should a small station in the Midwest care whether public radio has 3 million givers?

They irony of this is that it takes change on the part of individual stations and program producers to reach a "national" radio audience or membership goal. And that's why national goals matter. They serve as a focal point to help us all get better at what we do.

The original "double the audience" goal from the 1980s is a good example of this. The goal wasn't met on time but the collective effort resulted in better research tools, better programming strategies, opportunities to create new programs, a more professional approach to programming and on-air presentation, and better promotion efforts.

The 3MG project is off to a good start in this regard. DEI's Benchmark data is helping stations see their growth potential. NPR and DEI are collaborating on some powerful approaches to help stations get better direct mail results with lower costs and less effort. There are other plans in the works.

The Grow the Audience Project, initiated by CPB, is still in its early phases. Whatever goal is picked, it will have to have clear benefits to many stations for the project to be meaningful to the industry.

Just as 3MG is helping stations learn how a goal of 3 Million Givers can help them boost their own giver base, Grow the Audience needs to help stations answer the question, "how will this help Grow My Audience?"

If successful, then the Grow the Audience project will likely lead to the success of the 3MG project.

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