Much content development in higher ed happens in giant leaps — major news channel launches, 18-month website redesigns, expansive social media campaigns, you name it. A big rollout can mean big impact, but it also means big resources and, potentially, big failure if we haven’t done our due diligence.
In the field of software development, there is an increasingly popular school of thought around agile development, which entails iterative changes executed by collaborative cross-functional teams responding to change rapidly and flexibly. NPR has recently adopted elements of this approach in the way it plans new programming, often reimagining existing resources into shows, utilizing social media to boost listenership and participation, and incorporating feedback from listeners and local affiliates. (P.S. – Relatedly, Copyblogger’s Brian Clark recently outlined an approach to agile content marketing on Entreproducer.)
The goal is to create new content that more effectively captures an audience while posing less of a risk should the experiment not succeed. Eric Nuzum, NPR’s vice president of programming, described the goal of audience growth and engagement thusly:
Imagine there’s a circle, and the circle’s really dark, and that circle is our current audience. And it’s dark because there are so many people — there’s like a gravitational force — that are all kind of brought together. Then imagine a much larger ring around that circle, and that’s our potential audience. What we’re trying to do is bring that audience towards that center, trying to bring them more towards our programming.
Source: Agile, social, cheap: The new way NPR is trying to make radio by Andrew Phelps, Nieman Journalism Lab, Apr. 27, 2012