Going Public With 'Go Figure'

For the last 9 months (or has it been 12?) we've hemmed and hawed, and fretted about the upsides and downsides of taking the NPR Audience Insight & Research blog public. We began blogging our musings inside the protected walls of an intranet back in the summer of 2007, but today is the start of letting it all hang out. Well you know it is NPR, so we'll show some decorum.

First of all - who are we?  We're the in-house research group at NPR - 7 people strong. We inform and guide decision-making in a wide variety of areas:  radio program assessment and analysis, website and mobile platform development, corporate sponsorship and grant support, strategic planning, and communications. We'll be talking about audience estimates, survey results and if you're lucky we'll post a video or two.

Why are we doing this?  The quick answer: we want to connect with and learn from the NPR audience, our public media colleagues at stations and elsewhere, and our research and media colleagues.  Maybe you'll learn something and we'll learn something and have some fun doing it.

How often can you expect to hear from us?  We're shooting for a couple postings each week.  Matt Gallivan, our senior analyst for digital media & emerging platforms, is personally responsible for kicking our behinds if we're not posting often enough.

More about why we're launching a public blog -

Connecting with People in the Audience

In all seriousness, we think this is the right thing to do.  As Fred Jacobs notes in his recent post on transparency, many organizations "keep their findings under lock and key, while they quietly make their adjustments."  That statement sounds consistent with my experience. While I am hesitant to call research "marketing" as Fred does, I take his point.  NPR's Audience Advisory Panel (see FAQs) is now more than 23,000 participants strong, and growing.  With a cadre of dedicated audience members committed to sharing their thoughts with us, I believe it is incumbent upon us to communicate what we are learning, how we are learning it, and share the changes that we make with the entire community.  That said, it will put more pressure on us as a research department to flex our communication muscles.  We are not editorial talent, so please have mercy on us as we build our skills!  

Connecting with People in Public Media

We have a wealth of information that could benefit our colleagues at Member stations, CPB, PBS, SRG, PRPD, PRNDI, DEI, RRC, the rest of the public radio alphabet soup as well as the new entrants to non-commercial media.  Historically, we have not been very efficient or diligent in figuring out who would benefit from exposure to what pieces of information.  At the very least, this is a step toward opening up the repository.  We would love the opportunity to collaborate on projects, so we will describe what we're thinking about and would welcome more conversation about our approach or other questions you have on your mind.

Connecting with Research and Non-Public Media Colleagues

On occasion, we will wade into the technical elements and methodology of our work as researchers.  We're always game to try new approaches (like guerilla usability testing), think through best practices for research (panel engagement), or address larger issues that continue to flummox all media organizations (think cross-platform measurement).  We want to know what's working for others, what should be avoided at all costs or just enjoy a good volley back and forth of ideas.

Welcome to the world of Go Figure!

Lori Kaplan is the Director of NPR’s Audience Insight & Research group.

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