As a PR professional, it’s critical to know your audience – for your agency, organization, or client. As NBC’s recent TV special titled, “Education Nation” ended, I read a number of tweets, blog posts and articles from educators expressing their disappointment in the week-long summit dedicated to education reform. NBC’s intentions were good – a larger emphasis should be put on the needs and challenges facing America to improve education – but based on educator responses, I think they fell short in understanding their audience.
Many of the teachers reported feeling “disappointed, depressed, and insulted” over the outcomes of the summit. Many said there was no teacher voice, and as I reviewed the lineup of “education experts,” the absence of teachers was highly evident. In its announcements, NBC recognized the importance of including teachers and parents in the week’s discussions, but many didn’t get the opportunity to expand on their opinions and ideas. In his blog, Outside the Cave, Stephen Lazar writes about his experience participating in the Teacher Town Hall, describing his initial excitement at the prospect of sharing his thoughts with a national audience. To his disappointment, however, he was given barely enough time to finish a sentence.
Other panels featured politicians and high-ranking executives as participants who seemed interested mostly in using the event to push their own agendas. Looking back at the program, one might wonder: Were these people invited for their knowledge of the industry, or simply because of the publicity their name and title brought to the summit?
Working in the education industry, I applauded NBC’s initiative to bring education-related topics and discussion into the spotlight, but was disheartened to hear that so many educators were disappointed with the coverage and events. Their voices and opinions are the ones we want to hear – the very people who teach our children every day. They know how much time, effort, knowledge and emotion go into teaching, and could provide informed opinions on the topics addressed during Education Nation, like teacher development and performance, and effectively preparing students for the workforce.
When planning any campaign, program or event, it’s crucial to know your audience and where they are engaging. Who are you targeting with your message? Who are the influencers in your market? What are the best channels to reach them with? Once you’ve answered a few of these questions, you can start to decide what kind of message(s) you want to deliver and which channels to use. Considering their audience, NBC could have done more research and reached out to those working on education’s front lines.
By asking questions of their most important audience, NBC could have been more informed on topics most pertinent to teachers, and gained suggestions on panel contributors and other events. If you’re curious to read more opinions on Education Nation, a couple of the blog posts and articles featuring teachers are listed below.
Do you think NBC did a good job at highlighting the most important topics in education today? Was the ‘teacher voice’ fairly represented? If they did it again, what suggestions would you have for improvement?