NPR seeks to build younger audience through new campaign

The New York Times | Boston Herald

At SXSW Sunday, NPR kicked off "Generation Listen, a campaign to make public radio cool in the minds and ears of young people," Brian Stelter reports. NPR director of audience engagement Danielle Deabler tells Stelter the initiative aims to make people under 30 feel like they belong at the network, whose on-air listeners have a median age of 49.

She had noticed that when NPR hit “rough patches” — say, the firing of the news analyst Juan Williams and failed attempts by Republicans to bar federal funding to the organization — “there was no efficient way to activate our most loyal fans.” Nor was there a way to attract new fans. “We had not spent time studying the psychology of it all,” she said.

NPR's Generation Listen page nods toward psychology, telling young people, "we want to hang out — whether in cyberspace, over the air, or through events — and exchange ideas and smart conversation."

Last month NPR launched a billboard campaign, its first, advertising for "cattle-ranching fashionistas," "skydiving algebra teachers" and others.

In other SXSW marketing news, MIT's Media Lab apologized for wristbands at a party it hosted.

“That’s a nice dress,” read one of the wristbands. “It would look great on my floor.”

“Do you wash your clothes with Windex?” read another wristband. “Cause I can see myself in your pants.”

"These wristbands were provided by the venue, and while we didn’t realize what was printed on them until after they'd been handed out, we should have prevented the situation from occurring in the first place," Media Lab Director Joi Ito wrote on the organization's blog.

Related: Public radio’s looooong-term strategy: Have more babies, listeners

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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