Just a few days ago, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Tivi Jones and Cathy Dobbins of UNC-TV about the UNC-TV Design-Thinking Hackathon happening this weekend in Durham. 

The event is the first of its kind for UNC-TV, and one of the first for the public media industry as a whole. It aims to “bring together college students; marketing, business and IT professionals; and creatives and public media fans to find innovative solutions to challenges plaguing UNC-TV as a public media organization.”

Any media provider needs to know a few things, starting with who is the audience? Are they older? Younger? Where are they from?

Then, how to reach that audience. Do they get better results with print or digital? Are people more interested in reading stories or watching videos? Is it worth creating an app or do the vast majority of users interact with media through their laptops and desktops?  

And finally, how to stay afloat. Every media company needs funding. Public media companies have an especially tough time here. Instead of creating content geared to make money for advertisers, public media groups need to generate content which convinces audience members to donate directly. So, who’s donating? Where are they from? Do recurring or one-time donations draw in more funding? What types of events seem to draw in donations? How do they better serve these ever so important donors?

Taking the time and finding the manpower to answer these aforementioned questions can be costly and difficult, but the folks at UNC-TV think it’s time for a kick in the butt. And with that admission, a hackathon was born. It’s a chance to provide a stage upon which students and industry members can prove their mettle, bring entrepreneurs and media gurus together and offer solutions for UNC-TV to better engage, program and operate.

The event is being held at American Underground in Durham this weekend, with plenty of MATI Energy flowing for the 50 or so students, marketers, public media experts and thought leaders expected to participate.  

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