K.I.S.S.: Keep It Sustainable, Simple

When it comes to successful experimentation in resource-strapped public media, there’s a central theme: Dream big, start small.

Or, keep it sustainable. And simple.

A recent survey on how local public media stations are doing with innovation revealed successes from doing just that with the Localore project from the Association of Independents in Radio and its partners.

Most public media outlets are already strapped for cash, time and talent – so keeping experiments simple and sustainable was a major determinant of success with Localore.

As the Association of Independents in Radio wrote in the report, “…progress is a series of nudges accumulated over time.” Happily, in addition, some experimenting stations found that just doing the experiment led to possible funding for future innovative efforts.

Through Localore, AIR dispatched a several talented, flexible, problem-solvers to local stations with an assignment to “’go outside’ traditional mindset and craft,” AIR reported this month.

Six takeaways that came of the project, according to the report:
· “’Local’ is a vital future value proposition for a public media seeking to expand and diversify its service.”
· Give talented individuals the power to lead.
· Research and exploration can help develop both engagement and engaging technology
· “Engagement” can come from a combination of broadcast, digital and feet-on-the-street research. That takes investment.
· Build networks of talented, engaged and caring individuals on the local level and throughout the industry.
· Think about your audience – who you want to reach and why – before starting any experiment.

You can download (free!) the full Localore report here.

Sustainability in experimentation as a theme came up earlier this month, too, with (INN) INNovation Fund grants to eight projects.

The INNovation fund is a collaboration between the Investigative News Network and the Knight Foundation.

The eight projects received more than $236,000 in combined funding with the purpose of giving “smaller outlets the ability to experiment with ideas they would not otherwise have the time or resources to pursue,” Nieman Lab reported.

Further, the purpose of the grants is, in part, to launch sustainable projects that can live on long past the funding. That can only happen if the experiments are relatively small and can incorporate financial backing in a way that allows the experiments to at least break even.

You can read more about the INNovation grant recipients here.