I had a vision based on a very limited budget and a very enthused 25-year-old intern. It was to maximize cross-departmental buy-in on taking our main site to BENTO, while keeping our news site Core Publisher, where a radio staff of five contribute content to it.
The initial step was to hire the intern part-time as a digital media specialist and appoint a Digital Task Force, with representation of each station department -- radio, TV, underwriting, membership, station administration, engineering, finance, communications and design.
As a big fan of teamwork, GM Rick Johnson fully endorsed the task force and he also knew that feeding the group lunch would enhance team spirit.
At our first monthly meeting in June over pinwheel sandwiches, brocccolini salad and brownie bites, the group agreed BENTO was a good idea so that we could pull in PBS content and play to our strength as one of the most well-watched PBS stations in the country. As a starting point, we got a list of all the active BENTO sites, from our supportive SPI rep, Amy Lust.
Then, we assigned three sites per task force member for our next meeting in July. The agenda? Members were to present a few rants and raves about their sites.
After reviewing 32 BENTO sites on the big screen in the conference room over sub sandwiches, quinoa salad and chocolate chunk cookies, we had a working list of about 50 things we either did or didn't want to do. We'd talked through, over the course of two and a half hours, sites from Southern California to Maine.
By involving staff from all departments/levels, we had shared interest. So, at our August meeting, when we realized that we needed to hire an outside web firm to overwrite code and customize beyond the PBS lunchbox offerings, we got buy in from underwriting on an ambitious 6-month trade deal, for 20 hours a month.
At our September meeting, we assigned a few pages of our new site to each member for review.
The result? A site built largely by a talented millennial with cross-department input that launched in October. It’s a site that a lot of us feel good about. And, one that retains our station identity, meshes well with Core Publisher and continues to invite open discussion.
Barbara Linstrom | Digital Media Director | WGCU Public Media