BDO at PMBA: Risk Management for Public Media Outlets

In just a few days, I’ll be speaking at the Public Media Business Association’s (PMBA) annual conference in Washington, DC. The theme of this year’s conference is “Planning for Success in Uncertain Times,” and I’ll be addressing risk management for public media organizations in a session on Friday morning.

There are many challenges facing public media outlets. Here are a few questions I’ll attempt to answer in my presentation:
  • How can public media outlets manage the risks associated with  funding cuts and increasingly tight budgets? Most public media outlets receive a portion of their funding from federal and state governments. As those sources of funding continue to be reduced—particularly at the federal level—outlets are struggling to fill the funding gap. Indeed, persistent questions around funding have led outlets to put various initiatives, related to both programming and infrastructure, on hold. Greater cost burdens for stations in the areas of programming, infrastructure and back-office functions are leading to local mergers, reduced programming and downsizing. At the same time, fundraising in many local markets continues to be held back in the face of economic reality. Taken together, these stresses are weighing heavily on public media organizations.
  • How can media organizations safeguard their reputations? With federal funding lagging, public media outlets are increasingly focused on generating donations. That sort of funding is predicated on a unique programming experience and the overall reputation of a particular outlet. If an organization encounters negative press, donors tend to shy away from funding their operations.
  • What risks should outlets consider when pursuing alternative sources of funding? To make up for lost revenue, a number of outlets are experimenting with the sale of digital content to various platforms—iTunes and Yahoo! TV are among the most popular—which they are finding to be quite lucrative for holders of the media license.  Many organizations are hoping these steps will alleviate some of their funding challenges, while strengthening their ability to spread their unique style of programming to other venues.
  • How has the shift to social media impacted public media outlets—and what lies ahead? The Internet and social media platforms have become ripe outlets for public media content and engagement. With the shift online, confidential data and information has become increasingly vulnerable—and the pressure on organizations’ IT departments has grown tremendously. Hacking incidents at public media outlets have brought to the forefront the importance of IT security, close monitoring of online activities and security around database access.
I’m very much looking forward to diving deeper into each of these issues on Friday. If you’ll be in Washington for the PMBA conference, please swing by and say hello. It would be great to meet regular readers of the Nonprofit Standard blog.

In the meantime, are there any other issues facing public media outlets you’d like to me to discuss in my presentation? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.