Strategic Planning For Community Media Centers
Community media centers – public, education, and government (PEG) media organizations that operate public access television stations – create and distribute content that educates and informs community members and keeps the community engaged with local government and organizations. A community media center’s strategic plan will help directors reach specific fundraising, branding and community outreach goals.
Patrick Jinks provides a seven-step process to strategic planning for businesses, however, the following strategic plan provides tips specific to community media centers.
What is your media center’s history?
Knowing your media center’s history will tell you how far you must go to become what you really need to be. Forbes contributor Paul Jankowski says to “change a perception, you must first know what it is. Not what you think it is, because your opinion doesn’t really matter.”
Analyze your media center’s current brand and the services it provides right now by asking a few important questions:
- Does your media center have a recognizable brand?
- Does your community media center provide the important service it needs to provide?
- What does your community believe your center provides?
- What services does your community media center need to provide?
What is the vision for your media center?
For example, do media centers want community members to use their mobile devices to turn to your media center as their primary source for government news? If this is your vision, a strategic community outreach campaign may be necessary. Your community media center may also need a social media and content marketing campaign.
How will your media center materialize its vision?
It’s important to first determine who will take ownership of your media center’s strategic plan. Establishing roles and responsibilities is crucial to the success of your center’s plan. The management team – typically a board of directors – will assign someone to assume the role as project manager to oversee the project.
Establish committees to further determine roles and responsibilities. Each committee will decide the tools necessary to accomplish the media center’s goals and objectives.
What values will guide the services your media center provides?
Develop your community media center’s strategic plan with a cross-departmental approach in mind. The most effective strategic plan keeps the lines of communication open between all your center’s key players. This approach is inclusive and multi-disciplinary. Community media directors will also keep the center focused on its brand promise and the services it provides to the community. Brian Lischer, founder and CEO of Ignyte, wrote that the “most important element to any brand promise is simply that it is kept — every time.”
What is keeping your center from providing services?
Determine the obstacles keeping your media center directors from realizing its vision. Start by asking the following questions:
- Do we need to learn more about digital marketing?
- Do we need to learn more about branding?
- Do we need to learn more about community outreach?
- Do we need to secure funding to pay for our all or part of our strategic planning initiative?
What are your center’s short-term and long-term objectives?
A strategic plan is typically one to three years long. It’s important for center directors and the management team to determine how it will reach its vision and mission during this period. Setting goals will keep the management team on track and focused on meeting specific deadlines. An example of five specific goals for year one would be:
- Develop a new logo for your community media center.
- Develop a new mobile responsive website for your center.
- Develop a rebranding campaign that aligns with your three-year organizational goals.
- Implement your rebranding campaign.
- Secure three new partnerships with community organizations whose values match your own.
If your community media center needs funding before you can start the development of a new website, then the development of a fundraising campaign would be step two. You might have several committees working on various goals, all working to reach each objective within the first 12 months.
What will your community media center need to implement your strategic plan?
The development of various processes is necessary to ensure the effective implementation of your media center’s strategic plan. The process of developing, implementing and analyzing these processes is most effective when handled by one team at a time. Each committee chair will establish the processes and choose the necessary tools.
How will your media center monitor and assess your strategic plan’s progress?
The management team should establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and monitor and evaluate progress at various checkpoints, paying close attention to the KPIs established. It’s also important to develop reports that track your media center’s progress towards meeting goals and objectives. The management committee must ensure that committee chairs are keeping accurate reports so the media center’s progress can be assessed properly. Committees should meet regularly to discuss any challenges keeping the media station from reaching its goals.
An effective strategic plan identifies strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities that will help a community media center achieve its mission. Communication with the community is key to an effective strategy as it helps media centers deliver on its brand promise and aligns the strategic plan with the community’s values. The management team and staff establish goals and objectives, implement the strategic plan, and monitor and assess progress. And it’s important to pay close attention to key performance indicators to ensure the center’s objectives are met.
Original publication June 7, 2017 on Forbes.com – Strategic Planning For Community Media Centers
Genia Stevens is a digital marketer and Forbes columnist. She is owner and managing partner of Belwah Media, an award-winning integrated digital marketing agency with offices in Madison, WI and Chicago, IL. Genia Stevens is passionate about community media, tech tools, podcasting, and everything digital. Connect with Genia on LinkedIn and Twitter.