Introducing the Digital Network

Aug 10, 2017

Welcome to our introduction series on the Public Radio Digital Network. Over the past year, in various conferences, convenings and email communications, Chief Digital Officer Tom Hjelm and other members of NPR’s senior management team have been sharing the strategic vision of the Digital Network.  This series is intended to provide further context and information on the Network and the priority initiatives that will support it. 

We’ll begin with a summary of our goals and approaches.

We believe that in our highly competitive technology and media landscape, the future success of public radio, for both Member stations and NPR, depends on our working together to know, grow, engage and monetize audiences through great content, innovative digital products and exceptional audience experiences.

The Digital Network is that belief in action: a collaborative strategy committed to growing public radio audience, impact and membership. 

The Network is designed to help unify fragmented audience experiences, deepen the blend of locally and nationally produced content and distribute it to audiences across platforms from the web to the phone to the smart speaker. At the same time, NPR is also committed to exploring partnerships with stations and producers to support shared services, reduce redundancies across the system and provide opportunities for more collaborative innovation.

To fully support this Network strategy, we are making significant changes to the structure and role of NPR Digital Services. In September, the Boston office of Digital Services will close and the team will be relocated to Washington, DC, where it will sit alongside the core NPR Digital Media team.  This move will enable us to align the tools and services that we share with Member stations more efficiently and deeply with NPR products and platforms.

Last month, we shared a summary of what you can expect from Digital Services in the year ahead, including what will change and what will remain the same. As we look ahead toward defining the tools, services and skills that will be offered to stations starting in 2018, we are focused on five priorities: essential services that every public radio station or producer needs in order to establish a credible digital identity.

  1. Straightforward Publishing: Tools that give stations the confidence to create once, publish everywhere
  2. Distribution & Presentation: Increasing the exposure of locally produced stories across platforms, where they can reach and engage current and new audiences
  3. Accelerated Membership: Analyzing and experimenting with giving opportunities to ease the path from listening to membership
  4. Audience Intelligence: Learning more about our audience to uncover new opportunities for engagement and impact
  5. Focused partnership & training: Helping to develop and spread effective strategies and practices among peers

We encourage you to dig into each of these priorities of the Digital Network to learn a bit more about how we’re approaching this work, starting with publishing and content creation.

Over the coming months, we will invite you to join us in this journey, and to help us define each building block of the Digital Network. We also will be sharing our collective progress. We encourage your feedback and ideas, and have created a #digitalnetwork channel in our DS+Friends Slack Team for group conversation. For one-on-one feedback, we recommend contacting your Member Partnership representative.