Scientists find that our brains experience two kinds of pleasure: the pleasure of seeking (wanting, curiosity, interest), and the pleasure of liking (enjoyment). The two are complementary. "The former catalyzes us to action; the latter brings us to a satisfied pause."
I can't help thinking that this corresponds to the two kinds of content that public radio provides: talk and music: we're on the right track! Now I also have a better sense why some listeners were so upset and others thrilled when my station cut some classical music time for more Morning Edition. The research can further help us tailor on-air and online content to listeners' different needs.
- Maybe we should follow the example of BBC and ABC (A for Australia) and set up a "channel" system online so that listeners in the mood for seeking won't step on the toes of listeners in the mood for liking. NPR's web redesign is a good start. It separates news and music programs into two separate tabs. But we can go one step further and organize/curate all member stations' content into an intuitive and informative channel system:
- Talk: news, science, arts and entertainment, lifestyle, etc.
- Music: classical, country, pop, etc.
- Content delivery should also match listener's brain mood: less interruption for music programs and more listener engagement for talk programs.
"By being responsive to comments and acknowledging a mistake, the Post benefited from extra page views, extra time spent on the site, extra registrations and extra comments. "
This is a good example of the value of audience engagement. People who feel their voices heard and valued are more likely to become loyal audience.
#3: No secret to readership: Give them something to talk about
"'Something to talk about' is a powerful motivator that can drive readership. Across all demographics, researchers found similar responses. ... Certainly big news events - just like the weather -- are easy fodder for conversation ... And nothing beats a great story to prompt conversation, even between strangers on a train."
No technology shall diminish the importance of being a good storyteller. Public broadcasting system has many talented storytellers whose craft takes long time to hone and can't be copied easily. They are our competitive advantage and critical to the future of public media: we need them to create quality content, to explore new possibilities, and to mentor the next generation of storytellers.
#4: Building Reader Loyalty
This is a presentation given at Minnesota Newspaper Association convention in January, 2009. It identified four communication needs of audience (slides 10-11): connectivity, information, entertainment, and shopping and consuming.
The nice thing about the presentation is its huge collection of real world examples. The hits and misses of other media organizations should stimulate some ideas for public broadcasters.
#5: My Advice to Fox & MySpace on Selling Content – Yes You Can
Mark Cuban, an Internet billionaire entrepreneur, gave Rupert some interesting advice on how he can sell content online. It's a fun read. I'm most impressed by Cuban's idea of selling bundled products valuable to a specific audience group. For example, he proposed a "newsjunkies subscription" that includes access to multiple news websites owned by Rupert, 2 books from Harpers Collins collection, paper or e-copy of a news magazine, and a discount for DVDs at the Fox Store.
Public broadcasters can't sell content. We have to find other ways to raise money. My take-away from Cuban's article is that we need more entrepreneurial spirit and practice in our search for a sustainable business model in the digital age. Maybe we can allocate a small "venture capital" fund to support and take a chance on a few unconventional projects.