The Year Ahead For NPR Digital Services: Laying the Foundation of the Digital Network in FY18

Jun 29, 2017

Throughout the past year, alongside the NPR-Member Station Compact process, we’ve worked to define and enact a collective strategy to digitally transform public radio.

Core to this strategy is the development of a Digital Network: an integrated system of tools and services designed to enable more coherent and scalable experiences for our audiences, reduce redundancies across organizations, and support a more collaborative culture of innovation, where groundbreaking work from NPR and stations can be more easily shared.

This is an ambitious undertaking, not only because it calls for greater collaboration among stations and NPR, but because it requires commitment and focus. To that end, the process of building the Digital Network will start with the basics: modernizing the tools and services that serve the essential strategic needs that NPR and stations share:

  • Ease of publishing content
  • Seamless distribution of content across current and evolving platforms to the widest possible audience
  • Rich audience intelligence that can be used to inform programming, deepen engagement and drive revenue
  • Accelerated paths to membership
  • Thought leadership through training, peer-to-peer support and new approaches to innovation.

Building the tools and services that power this Network will take many incremental steps over the coming months, even the next few years. Last month, we announced a major step that will better position us to achieve these goals: the merger this fall of the NPR Digital Services team in Boston with the NPR Digital Media team in Washington. While this transition is under way, we are also committed to ensuring that the great majority of services currently provided through Digital Services, and upon which hundreds of stations rely, continue to be supported at least through September 2018. Below is an outline of what will be new in the coming year, what services will be sunset, and what will remain in place.

Below is an outline of what will be new in the coming year, what services will be sunset, and what will remain in place. 

WHAT’S NEW:

  • Quick access to self-service support via our NPR Digital Services Support Center. Over the last year, we’ve been building out hundreds of resource articles in our Support Center. Over FY18, we’ll continue to develop articles and assets to get you the answers you need quicker. Best practices in software customer service as well as feedback from station colleagues indicate that this is a strong direction for our team to support your efforts quickly and efficiently.
  • Upgraded communications and invitations to collaborate as we begin to build the Digital Network, updates on our progress towards those goals, product developments and much more. Don’t miss our next update or invitation---take these steps to prevent our emails from ending up in your spam folder.
  • And bringing together Digital Media and Digital Services under one roof to do so. This transition begins this summer, and will continue through the fall as we work to combine the power of our two divisions for greater Network impact.

WHAT’S GOING AWAY IN FY18:

  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud: Over the past few months, we’ve evaluated this contract. The additional cost for stations, coupled with its low adoption rate, suggest that this is not the right fit for most of your needs. For the 16 stations currently using Salesforce Marketing Cloud, we’ll be working to provide information on what to consider when choosing your next email provider, and outline the necessary steps in the transition.

WHAT’S NOT CHANGING IN FY18:

  • Maintaining our existing builds of: Core Publisher, Composer 2, SoundExchange reporting, Analytics Service and StationConnect as we test and build new tools like the Content API, new NPR One integrations, a new News App and more. We’ve been partnering with a station working group to explore the future of content publishing and presentation, and we look forward to sharing what we’ve learned, as well as inviting additional collaboration and feedback.
  • Advanced technical support facilitated through our Support Center.
  • Continued evaluation of our third-party agreements to determine if they are advancing our Digital Network objectives and providing mutual benefit, or should be revisited. If and when discontinuation of other services is considered, we will proactively communicate those changes well ahead of time.

In our upcoming communications, we’ll discuss how the plans and implementation of the Digital Network is progressing, and continue to inform and invite you to partner with us.