Meet PBS Engage

I just updated my Facebook status.  I let everyone in my network know that I was having chicken salad for lunch.  An hour later, an old friend from high school replied with her lunch plans.  Connection rekindled.  Turns out she too works in public media and wants to share ideas.  This is social media.

PBS Engage aims to create similar network connections between PBS and local communities.  I'm the associate web producer for Engage and will be penning a post on this blog every two weeks or so to keep you up to date on what we are working on - products, webinars, tools - to help you connect with your viewers and with us.

Let's get some questions and answers out of the way first:

What is Engage?  

Engage is a digital media initiative that creates a two way conversation between PBS and its audience by encouraging viewers to interact with PBS's dynamic breadth of content.  What does this actually mean?  We build stuff to help you talk to your viewers and have them talk back to you.  And we'll teach you how to do it.  We also have a web site that shares social media projects from across PBS and highlights program and station blogs already connecting with their constituents. 

What is social media? 


Social media brings people together and allows them to share ideas: find new favorite restaurants in your city, connect with experts and community advisors about the mortgage crisis, help students set career goals or get funding for college.  These are big projects that take a lot of work, but produce major community engagement.  Social media works on a smaller scale too.  Set up a Facebook page and alert fans about upcoming shows or special events.  Start a Twitter account to converse with community members personally. 

Using social media allows you to literally put the public back in public media.  Sounds like a cheesy tagline, but by reaching out to the individuals that make up your viewership, you can inform more people, solve more problems and even inspire more people to donate their hard earned money to your cause, now that you have personally taken an interest in their lives.  Everyone wins.

In the coming weeks, I will post about new products Engage has to offer and tell you about upcoming training sessions we lead to ease you in to this brave new world.  Some of you are already using social media - and it is working.  Others might still be dubious.  Engage is here to help.  This is also an area where you can send us your comments and to share your own best practices, experiences, and stories about what you are doing to engage your community.

Just a few things we have coming your way soon - a reinvented Flickr Factory that let's you collect images from Flickr and put them on your site.  Use it to round up photos from kids at the local library or a recent fundraiser.  We also have a comments engine that lets your viewers share their thoughts and anecdotes about a program or topic.

Got questions?  Need some help?  Already doing something cool with social media at your station?  Let me know.


Twitter: @laurenpbs



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