Briana O'Higgins

Briana O'Higgins is Greater Public's social media sleuth. She explores public media social media fundraising campaigns and shares their results to educate and advance fundraising throughout the system.

Recent Posts

Using Audience Personas to Guide Your Fundraising Activities

Membership, marketing

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Making up imaginary people may seem like a childhood game long forgotten, but media companies across the country are using the practice to help guide their work.

The idea behind audience personas or audience visioning exercises is to use a fictional person who is based on data and insight to guide product or project development. Check out this basic example created to think through a public radio website user:


Audience personas can help you think through audience needs and wants, so the end story (or project, or email, or membership drive segment) better resonates with the audience it is intended to reach.

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Two Stations Build Community for Parents in a Time of COVID-19

facebook, Social/Mobile, COVID-19

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In the past, staffers at both St. Louis Public Radio and WDET in Detroit had discussed ideas for parent-focused reporting and engagement, but neither station had developed anything definitive. Then the coronavirus pandemic drastically altered lives and routines. Among those most obviously affected: parents. With schools and extracurricular activities canceled indefinitely, parents of all walks found themselves responsible for not just their own daily duties, but also for those previously handled by teachers, caregivers, and coaches. 

Sascha Raiyn, an education reporter at WDET, says it was then that she and her colleagues knew it was the right moment to create content specifically for parents. 

They launched a Facebook group called "Doing Our Best: Parenting in the Age of COVID-19."

“We realized [parents'] lives were changing," she explained. "And there was a way to engage them. Parents' experience with this, their feelings … that was a gap we could fill."

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How KPCC’s Mission Statement Project Could Help On-Air Drives in a Moment of Change

Membership, pledge drive, marketing

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Every public media station is changing how they approach on-air fundraising in this moment. The drive structure, duration, and tone that worked so well a few months ago are being reassessed. What remains constant is the message of public media’s critical service, whose value is perhaps more important than ever. 

A recent project in the newsroom at KPCC in Southern California captured that value in a way that could serve other stations, particularly during this time of change for on-air drives. 

In 2019, KPCC newsroom leadership asked all reporters and producers to write mission statements for their work.

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Serving Your Audience on Social Media in the Time of COVID-19

Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, COVID-19

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COVID-19 has driven record numbers of people out of public spaces and into their homes to work alone on laptops, try home-schooling their kids, or just make it through the day without feeling isolated.

This protective “social distancing” also means many are turning to social media in search of information, inspiration, and connection. And your organization’s outreach on these platforms presents an essential opportunity to serve your audience in new ways. 

Consider these helpful ideas for your social media activity, and share your own ideas back with us in the comments below!

  1. Many news outlets have a live blog with real-time updates about COVID-19 in their coverage area. Consider pinning to your page a tweet and Facebook post pointing to the live blog for users who are seeking you out in this time of need. That way, your latest information on the Coronavirus pandemic will always be on the top of your social pages. If your station uses Instagram, point your link in profile to your live blog.
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Proof of Performance Promos May Help You Gain Trust and Grow Audience

elections, Membership, General Management, Audience Engagement

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For many of us, Impeachment coverage has dominated our broadcast schedule and made it difficult to get all of our underwriting spots aired. But the special coverage has also highlighted what public media does best, bolstering support for our services. A report out in mid-December from the Radio Research Consortium shows that NPR member stations with full-time news formats saw an 18% increase in listening. 

At KUOW in Seattle, Arvid Hokanson, director of audience, noticed the increased listening in his weekly broadcast and stream data and recognized an opportunity.  

“If people are tuning in more now,” says Hokanson, “we should capture them.”

His goal: Connect the station’s coverage of this historic moment in listeners’ minds with an awareness of the singular value of the service.

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How OPB Builds Audience by Paying to Boost Facebook Content

facebook, instagram, Membership, Social/Mobile

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To make boosted Facebook content work, you have to pay attention to audience behavior, according to Jan Boyd, director of digital strategy and community engagement and Paul Loofburrow, vice president marketing and communications at Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). 

The team took some time to study their audience’s behavior by watching how posts performed over time, then tested their assumptions and refined their conclusions by marking certain content for additional promotion. 

The team has what they call the “Crushin’ 5,” five pieces of content each week from various content areas that are likely to perform well on social. The Crushin’ 5 are a combination of what audiences need to know and what mirrors (in style/topic) other content that historically has performed well on social.

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How KUOW Brings Journalism to Social Media Using Instagram

instagram, Social/Mobile, social media

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Each morning when KUOW social media producer Brie Ripley gets to work, she asks herself the same question: How am I going to bring journalism to social media today? Ripley has been with the station for just a year, but as their second full-time social staffer, she has been able to innovate and grow audiences in the social space. More specifically, Ripley asks how she is going to bring region-specific stories to the accounts, which she says is key in reaching audiences and engaging with them.

Ripley says when she finds a good story for social she thinks about how the story can best be told, sometimes it is a Twitter thread, sometimes it is a Instagram Story or gallery.

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How Michigan Radio Uses Instagram to Cultivate Audience Engagement

instagram, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, General Management, Audience Engagement

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When digital director Jodi Westrick was hired at Michigan Radio, she knew her new station was excellent at telling stories with audio and website content. Her goal was to expand the reach of those stories to new and different audiences.

Westrick and her team began synopsizing the station’s reporting on the Instagram platform using single images, slideshows, and video. These Instagram posts link back to the full stories using instructions to “visit the link in our bio.”

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Case Study: How Social Ads and Kickstarter Allowed KPCC to Resurrect LAist

instagram, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, digital marketing

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Back in 2012, a tiny radio show called 99% Invisible was desperate to continue production of what seemed to be a wildly popular podcast. With few options, host and creator Roman Mars popped up a page on the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter and asked his small-but-loyal fan base to keep his show in production. They answered. More than three times over.

The success of 99% Invisible’s Kickstarter campaigns captured a lot of attention in public media. Since then it’s become clear that crowdfunding isn’t ideally suited to support the overall health of a public media station. Rather, the best candidates for these campaigns are stand-alone projects over which an audience feels a sense of strong ownership, and projects that likely could not exist were they unable to meet their funding goal on Kickstarter.

KPCC (Southern California Public Radio)

In 2018, KPCC acquired a shuddered altweekly called LAist. The acquisition was part of a transformative digital strategy aimed at growing and diversifying their audience. Though they purchased the website, they needed funds and supporters to bring it back to life and incorporate the assets with existing KPCC assets: enter Kickstarter.

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Case Study: WBHM's Success Using Targeted Social Media Ads

Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, digital marketing

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Last fall, WBHM 90.3 in Birmingham, Ala. ran their first paid social media ad campaign and it led to very successful results. Though the station wasn't immediately able to replicate the outcome of the campaign, understanding their approach could be helpful to other organizations engaged in their own paid social media experimentation.

The ads were direct solicitations for donations and offers to buy WBHM socks, t-shirts, and pint glasses in hopes of cultivating these individuals for membership later on. But the success lay in the use of targeting.

Targeting, as you probably know, is the magic (or creepiness) of digital ads that have been selected for people based on their past actions online. WBHM purchased targeted ads through Facebook, uploaded the email addresses of current and lapsed members, and then had Facebook target those users with ads, along with owners of email addresses they had from the NPR One database.

The owners of the ad-targeted email addresses made 279 donations totaling $32,441 during the station’s fall, 2017 membership drive. (Donations made up to one day after an ad was viewed by an individual and up to 28 days after an individual clicked through an ad were considered part of the fall, 2017 drive).

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