The Digital Metrics That Matter Most for Public Media Fundraising

Membership, Corporate Support, digital revenue, General Management

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In public media's ongoing quest to connect to audiences via digital platforms, it's important to realize that what we decide to measure can ultimately affect what we do to increase our audiences

This became a focal point for a small conference organized last spring by the Station Resource Group and the Wyncote Foundation in cooperation with NPR. The gathering was aimed at “strengthening the digital news service within public media.” But the team quickly agreed that there wasn't a shared understanding for how to measure digital success.

So a working group of public media organizations formed in order to define a shared framework for measuring successful growth on digital platforms. 

The group winnowed down a lengthy list of possible metrics to four essential areas of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - or audience-focused goals - along with the metrics considered to be most important within each, organized by platform:


Defining which metrics are most valuable within each platform is essential since public media has a revenue model that's not precisely mirrored in any other industry. When examining audience growth on your website, for example, you'll not only want to know the total number of people who visit your site, but how many people keep coming back to your website. Measuring those return visitors yields valuable information for your membership department. 

This KPI framework offers a valuable opportunity to reexamine which metrics your organization has decided are essential, and update priorities. Consider sharing regular reports in these areas throughout your organization and creating incentives to hit targets in key agreed-upon areas.

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