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Episode 12 – Interview with Hilary Silverboard

(00:02) Adam: Hello, I’m joined today by Hilary Silverboard, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Strategy at Public Broadcasting in Atlanta. Hey Hilary.


(00:09) Hilary: Hey, how are you?


(00:10) Adam: I’m doing great are you?


(00:11) Hilary: I’m very good.


(00:12) Adam: Give us the thirty seconds about you and PBA here.


(00:14) Hilary: So Public Broadcasting Atlanta is the leading NPR affiliate we have WABE ninety point one.


(00:20) Adam: Right.


(00:22) Hilary: We also have our PBS affiliate as well, PBA30. So we have all the PBS kids programming, Sid the science kid.


(00:29) Adam: Yes.


Hilary: Danny the tiger, things from Nova to Ken Burns.


(00:33) Adam: Yes. Listen my adult side that drives and likes to be educated really appreciates your WABE and…


(00:41) Hilary: Thank you for listening.


(00:42) Adam: My parent of five children side really appreciate Daniel the Tigers.


(00:45) Hilary: Yes. Yes.


(00:46) Adam: So thank you. Thank you, thank you.


(00:47) Hilary: Yes. Absolutely. I’m a big fan of Clifford and Curious George.


(00:51) Adam: Yes, Curious George is one of my favorites in particular.


(00:53) Hilary: The best.


(00:54) Adam: My kids love curious george.


(00:56) Hilary: Yes.


(00:56) Adam: He’s so great.


(00:57) Hilary: So cute.


(00:58)  Adam: Let’s start with what’s something you’re excited about? What are you working on right now? What’s interesting?


(01:03) Hilary: So we are doing just a ton of branding work at both WABE and PBA30.


(01:08) Adam: Okay.


(01:08) Hilary: Really delving into brand strategy development and really defining what our unique proposition is. So we basically launched WABE rebrand in October of last year.


(01:20) Adam: Okay.


(01:21) Hilary: Are year into it, so it’s really fun to assess how we’ve been, where we’re going, and we’re doing brand strategy work on PBA30 to figure out what our unique proposition is in the market as well.


(01:32) Adam: So like for any listeners that are not super marketing geeks, like the two of us are, that really get excited about this idea of brand. Like give me a simple dumbed down version of like brand and brand strategy, like defining what is the brand what is the brand strategy?


(01:48) Hilary: So I think at the end of the day its very very simple. It’s what makes you different versus your competitors.


(01:54) Adam: Perfect.


(01:54) Hilary: That is what a good brand is, and the strategy is how are you’re going to get there.


(01:58) Adam: Okay.


(01:58) Hilary: What that…


(01:59) Adam: How to communicate that.


(02:00) Hilary: Yes.


(02:00) Adam: I love that.


(02:01) Hilary: Yeah.


(02:01) Adam: It’s going well because…


(02:02) Hilary: Yeah.


(02:03) Adam: WABE seems to be just rocking and rolling right now.


(02:05) Hilary: Well thank you.


(02:06) Adam: So that’s great.


(02:06) Hilary: We set out the goal we want to try to diversify our audience get younger.


(02:10) Adam: Yeah.


(02:10) Hilary: With all our brand strategy work we figured out that our differentiator is authentic storytelling.


(02:18) Adam: I love that.


(02:18) Hilary: That is a part of what we do.


(02:20) Adam: Yeah.


(02:20) Hilary: But we also stand for being uniquely Atlanta, being a community convener, also telling authentic stories that inspire, educate and inform, and also providing a great learning experience.


(02:32) Adam: I feel like WABE is a really good way to kind of keep tabs on what’s happening in Atlanta. I like the narrative.


(02:38) Hilary: Yes.


(02:38) Adam: That you’re telling there, it’s really good.


(02:40) Hilary: Right. So after all that work, the creative side of that came with a new tagline which is where ATL meets NPR.


(02:46) Adam: Love that.


(02:47) Hilary: Yeah.


(02:48) Adam: Nice.


(02:49) Hilary: Yeah. Thank you.


(02:49) Adam: Okay. Great.


(02:50) Hilary: Yeah. So that happened in October of last year and we reinforce it on our air.


(02:57) Adam: Right.


(02:57) Hilary: So you’ll the hosts say ‘where ATL meets NPR’ and we have an outdoor campaign that you might see around the Atlanta market. Several billboards that really reinforce where ATL meets NPR.


(03:08) Adam: That’s great. So the messaging is paying off it sounds like.


(03:10) Hilary: Yes. Yes.


(03:11) Adam: That’s excellent.


(03:12) Hilary: Yes.


(03:12) Adam: Okay. So that’s something that you’re working on. That’s exciting. I love that.


(03:15) Hilary: Yeah.


(03:15) Adam: So I always like to ask this question. Can you share with us a story of something you worked on that maybe was not so successful that we can possibly learn from?


(03:24) Hilary: Well I think one of the things that I was thinking about this that when we launched the campaign we had a really clever copy.


(03:31) Adam: Okay.

(03:31) Hilary: Our objective was to reinforce something that is resonating from a national or international perspective like an NPR story and…


(03:41) Adam: Right.


(03:41) Hilary: Tie it back to something that’s Atlanta focussed. So that copy that we got was the concept of we cover exiting Braves and exiting Brits.


(03:53) Adam: Okay.


(03:53) Hilary: So really that was a time of (inaudible 03:56).


(03:56) Adam: Right.


(03:57) Hilary: So that was a really clever copy line, and what we’ve learned in the execution of that concept it’s much harder to do. So trying to marry up an international or national story with something local that still resonates to a broader community because you’re doing this in outdoor.


(04:17) Adam: Yeah.


(04:18) Hilary: People can’t see the copy going eighty miles an hour on the freeway.


(04:22) Adam: Right. Right.


(04:24) Hilary: So the concept was a great execution.


(04:26) Adam: Right.


(04:27) Hilary: But in outdoor creative it was really hard to see and it’s also very hard to replicate twelve months a year. So then we decided on these highway boards, let’s just put our tagline up there…


(04:39) Adam: Right.


(04:39) Hilary: Where ATL meets NPR because…


(04:40) Adam: Yeah.


(04:40) Hilary: Again you can’t see it.


(04:42) Adam: Yeah.


(04:42) Hilary: So I think the lesson was matching the message to the medium.


(04:46) Adam: Right.


(04:47) Hilary: So really making sure in what you’re doing to communicate and highlight your brand, that it also fits the medium that you’re in. So being in outdoor on highway boards, being short and easy to read.


(04:59) Adam: Right. Yeah.


(05:00) Hilary: So in radio you have the opportunity to reinforce that.


(05:03) Adam: To expound a bit.


(05:04) Hilary: Right. Right.


(05:04) Adam: Right.


(05:04) Hilary: In outdoor it’s much harder.


(05:07) Adam: Yeah.


(05:08) Hilary: It’s just good learning we fell in love with the copy line but…


(05:11) Adam: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.


(05:12) Hilary: It doesn’t always work in certain environments.


(05:14) Adam: I love how you sort of tie it into becoming more simplified in your messaging, and honestly I feel like that’s something that most nonprofits struggle with in general is, how do you simplify, simplify, simplify for people to genuinely understand who you are and what you’re about.


(05:29) Hilary: Right.


(05:30) Adam: It’s very difficult to communicate that. I love that it got simpler and simpler, and I like the idea of like Brits versus Braves. But at the same time I agree with the execution of that would be very difficult long term.


(05:39) Hilary: Right. Right.


(05:40) Adam: So okay. That’s awesome.


(05:42) Hilary: Yeah.


(05:42) Adam: It was a good learning lesson.


(05:44) Hilary: It was. Especially as a consumer and you’re driving down the freeway and…


(05:47) Adam: Right.


(05:47) Hilary: You’re like ‘I can’t see that board’.


(05:49) Adam: ‘Wait what did that say? Hold on, wait’. My favorite are the billboards that I’ve QR codes on them. I love that.


(05:54) Hilary: How are you going to do that?


(05:55) Adam: How are you going to take your phone out and scan a QR code?


(05:57) Hilary: Yeah.


(05:58) Adam: Right. It’s a great idea.


(05:59) Hilary: As a marketer it’s very hard because I’m constantly looking at other people’s creative ability like ‘that’s impossible I can’t read that’.


(06:05) Adam: It doesn’t make any sense.


(06:06) Hilary: Yeah.


(06:06) Adam: Well I get that a lot. Like I always look at like even commercial or just anything, I’m like this does not make any sense. Why would you do that? I think that it’s to what your point is like the message has to always meet the medium and the right way.


(06:18) Hilary: Right.


(06:18) Adam: We have to think through like what is that? It’s true like even on social media, like the way that you approach Instagram is very different than the way you approach Twitter, is very different the way you approach Facebook.


(06:28) Hilary: Absolutely.


(06:28) Adam: All these people that sort of blast the same message in every place.


(06:32) Hilary: Absolutely.


(06:33) Adam: Really do themselves a disservice.


(06:34) Hilary: Right. Absolutely.


(06:35) Adam: So that’s something that didn’t work well, right? Tell us something that was wildly successful or is it becoming wildly successful or going well for you.


(06:34) Hilary: Well I going to go back to the WABE brand.


(06:48) Adam: Right.


(06:48) Hilary: I think the fact that we really carved out a unique identity.


(06:51) Adam: Right.


(06:51) Hilary: The challenge we have is there’s the great NPR brand but how do you define it for the local community.


(06:58) Adam: Right.


(07:00) Hilary: I think that has been great. I think part of our core of our brand is community convening and we have established, this is more of a programming aspect not just marketing, but we’ve established community engagement and we’ve had many different events that reinforce what our brand is, being a community convener but also tie back to the type of NPR local programming. So we did an event on immigration when there was immigration issue several months ago. We did an event on a nation ingage which was with a new presidential. After the presidential election what are we facing? So we’ve been out there, we just had a an event last week about sports stadiums and the impact on local communities.


(07:42) Adam: Right, very pertinent right.


(07:45) Hilary: Right. Absolutely, and we time it right because…


(07:47) Adam: Yeah.


(07:47) Hilary: It’s the start of football season.


(07:48) Adam: It’s amazing.


(07:49) Hilary: So it’s great to have a programming element that brings your brand to life.


(07:54) Adam: Yeah.


(07:54) Hilary: Part of our brand benefit was providing an immersive experience.


(07:59) Adam: Right.


(07:59) Hilary: The best way we can bring our brand to life in an immersive experience is through community engagement programs.


(08:05) Adam: Right.


(08:05) Hilary:  So that’s just been just a great way to say ‘okay, now we have this brand strategy. How do you bring it to life?’ It’s with these events that we do and people get to touch, see, feel, hear…


(08:15) Adam: Yeah.


(08:15) Hilary: In person. Where ATL meets NPR.


(08:18) Adam: So one of thing that I’m hearing you say from this sort of brand and brand strategy perspective, is that you have started with your brand and really understanding on a very deep level what your unique proposition is.


(08:30) Hilary: Yes.


(08:30) Adam: Then from there the strategy flows in terms of how do you communicate that brand to the community. But then from there everything else ultimately plays off of that, it comes out of that, right?


(08:42) Hilary: Absolutely.


(08:42) Adam: I’m pointing that out because I feel like we almost always do it the opposite way.


(08:48) Hilary: Right, backing into our brand.


(08:50) Adam: We were trying to back into our brand.


(08:51) Hilary: Right.


(08:51) Adam: That’s where we end up with these organizations that do like fifty million things and have no focus.


(08:57) Hilary: Right.


(08:57) Adam: It sounds to me like you’re extremely focused and then it just kind of flows from there and you’re seeing a lot of success with that, right?


(09:06) Hilary: Absolutely, and I think that’s what we’re trying to get out with understanding the PBS brand and…


(09:11) Adam: Right.


(09:11) Hilary: Our own brand. So where do we focus? What’s our unique proposition? Then how does our programming development flow out of that?


(09:19) Adam: Right.


(09:19) Hilary: You need to ladder up to a consistent message and product delivery to the consumers.


(09:25) Adam: Right.


(09:25) Hilary: That’s what a great brand is. So it’s not just about a fancy advertising campaign or a cool tagline.


(09:32) Adam: Right.


(09:32) Hilary: It is what’s your unique promise, and then how does that come to life.


(09:36) Adam:  Right.


(09:36) Hilary: Consumers don’t always remember the tagline but they remember the experience.


(09:40) Adam: That’s right. That’s right.


(09:41) Hilary: Or the service, or the offerings. So that’s really making sure that you’re spending time on what that strategy is and…


(09:49) Adam: Yeah.


(09:49) Hilary: Then the program development whatever any organization is doing really ties back to it.


(09:54) Adam: Yeah, like you say you’re spending time with that strategy is the one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, is that we live in a very fast paced culture.


(10:04) Hilary: Yes.


(10:04) Adam: We have this tendency to make these very quick decisions that are very big decisions with almost no thought.


(10:09) Hilary: I know.


(10:10) Adam: We have to slow down and really think through. Is this where I want to go?


(10:14) Hilary: right.


(10:14) Adam: If it is, then so be it and how does that play out? We have to we have to stop and think through those things.


(10:19) Hilary: Right.


(10:19) Adam: I’m guilty of not doing that enough.


(10:22) Hilary: Right.


(10:22) Adam: It sounds like you are doing that well.


(10:24) Hilary: Yeah.


(10:25) Adam: That’s great.


(10:26) Hilary: Well it’s finding the  balance. But I agree with you, I think that taking the time to figure out what is our strategy and then being disciplined, it’s a muscle that we all have to exercise and…


(10:34) Adam: Right. Right.


(10:35) Hilary: Say ‘no, is this on brand or is it not on brand?


(10:36) Adam: Yes.


(10:36) Hilary: Why are we doing this?


(10:38) Adam: Yes.


(10:38) Hilary: Does it fall into our criteria? Is it about authentic storytelling? Community convening? Uniquely Atlanta? Yes? Great, proceed.


(10:45) Adam: Yes.


(10:45) Hilary: No doubt but it does take a lot of work, and it’s hard because sometimes in developing a brand strategy you’re doing a lot of word smithing.


(10:53) Adam: Yeah.


(10:53) Hilary: You’re looking up the right words to find (inaudible 10:56).


(10:56) Adam: Great. Great.


(10:57) Hilary: You think ‘man, is this a useful exercise that you’re sort of spinning over? Is it immersive or engaging?


(11:04) Adam: Yeah. Right.


(11:05) Hilary: Whatever it is. But I do believe that that time that you take does help drive the rest of organization’s activities.


(11:11) Adam: Yes.


(11:11) Hilary: We are moving too fast and we have to always…


(11:14) Adam: Slow down.


(11:15) Hilary: Slow down for a second and say ‘is it strategic or not? Is it on brand or not?


(11:19) Adam: So you mentioned one thing that I want to dig just a moment on. You said you look at an opportunity and say ‘is this on brand? Yes or no. If yes you move forward if no you don’t. Do you have any specific criteria you use for determining if it’s on brand or not? Is there like a framework that you kind of used to think through?


(11:37) Hilary: Right.


(11:37) Adam: Or is it more just kind of going back to that initial strategy. Like tell me a little bit more about that.

(11:42) Hilary: So I think it’s a combination of when you develop your brand strategy I believe that you have to have your positioning statement.


(11:47) Adam: Right.


(11:47) Hilary: Which really defines who your audience is, how you are uniquely different, and how you reinforce that in your products and services.


(11:54) Adam: Okay.


(11:54) Hilary: So it starts with a positioning statement. There’s also the attributes that you want to stand for and…


(11:58) Adam: Right.


(11:58) Hilary: Live up to on a daily basis. There’s the brand benefits we’ve talked about, WABE provides perspective, immersion and engagement.


(12:07) Adam: Right.


(12:08) Hilary: I look at positioning, benefits, attributes as the criteria and are pillars really.


(12:14) Adam: Right.


(12:15) Hilary: The pillars are the storytelling, uniquely Atlanta, community convening, et cetera. Okay, does it live up to our positioning? Or does it live up to our attributes? Or does it live up to our pillars?


(12:26) Adam: Okay. That’s it.


(12:27) Hilary: I really believe that it’s got to hit a couple of these things.


(12:30) Adam: Right.


(12:31) Hilary: It doesn’t have to hit all though.


(12:31) Adam: The misses all of them broadly.


(12:33) Hilary: Right.


(12:34) Adam: Then you know I should never do this.


(12:35) Hilary: Right.


(12:35) Adam: Ever.


(12:35) Hilary: Right.


(12:35) Adam: It’s a great idea for somebody else.


(12:37) Hilary: Right. Exactly.


(12:37) Adam: Right.


(12:38) Hilary: Then you’re really thinking about how does this move us forward.


(12:41) Adam: Right.


(12:41) Hilary: That is really important aspect of your brand strategy as well.


(12:45) Adam: Yeah.


(12:45) Hilary: I don’t believe it has to have all things.


(12:48) Adam: It doesn’t have to aligned perfectly.


(12:49) Hilary: Right, and I don’t have a specific example here but some things may not always be exactly on brand.


(12:55) Adam: Right.


(12:56) Hilary: But you’re choosing to make that business decision because it makes sense for the organization as long as it doesn’t hurt the brand.


(13:01) Adam: Exactly. Right, or at least you know it.


(13:03) Hilary: Or the perception. Right.


(13:03) Adam: You know it going in.


(13:04) Hilary: Yeah.


(13:04) Adam: Your eyes wide open, you know this isn’t perfect for the brand but it’s important for this reason.


(13:08) Hilary: Right. Exactly.


(13:09) Adam: So you don’t want to accidentally fall into something that’s off brand.


(13:12) Hilary: Right.


(13:12) Adam: I think that’s the big thing.


(13:13) Hilary: Exactly.


(13:13) Adam: That’s the danger for most nonprofits is we have this tendency to fall into these things that seem like great ideas, because they are great ideas.


(13:20) Hilary: Right.


(13:21) Adam: But they’re off brand.


(13:22) Hilary: Right.


(13:22) Adam: We need to get rid of them.


(13:23) Hilary: Right. Absolutely.


(13:25) Adam: Yeah. Okay that’s super helpful. So last question, what’s on the horizon like from a market perspective that you’re excited about?


(13:35) Hilary: So I think in general I’m excited about how we can immerse ourselves more in the community, also be more uniquely Atlanta for both of our brands and reflect this great city that we’re in.


(13:46) Adam: Yeah.


(13:47) Hilary: So one of the things we’re looking at the podcast landscape.


(13:50) Adam: Well that.


(13:51) Hilary: Absolutely. Extending that into figuring out how WABE can develop a great podcast.


(13:59) Adam: Right.


(13:59) Hilary: That’s uniquely Atlanta but that also is relevant to the national landscape because…


(14:03) Adam: Right.


(14:03) Hilary: As we say in our our brand strategy ‘what happens here in Atlanta influences the world’.


(14:08) Adam: Right.


(14:08) Hilary: So capturing that aspect is really important for us. So we’ve got some things in the work very excited about and also thinking about from a PBS perspective. As a PBS affiliate here what can we do to bring in more Atlanta families and more Atlanta adults with the great PBS program and…


(14:25) Adam: Yeah.


(14:25) Hilary: Figuring out what is are unique positioning in Atlanta perspective.


(14:30) Adam: If you need some kids to test that PBS storyline.


(14:32) Hilary: Absolutely. Yes.


(14:32) Adam: Just let me know I’ve got a whole test group for you.


(14:35) Hilary: Absolutely.


(14:35) Adam: I mean a test group is about five.


(14:36) Hilary: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s statistically significant and you can hook them up with some Daniel’s Tiger coloring worksheets.


(14:43) Adam: Now we’re talking.


(14:44) Hilary: Yeah.


(14:44) Adam: Now we’re talking. That sounds amazing.


(14:45) Hilary: That’s a good currency to have. The Daniel the tiger currency.


(14:48) Adam: I Love that. I love that. It’s better than bitcoin even.


(14:50) Hilary: Exactly.


(14:51) Adam: Well Hilary this has been amazingly informative I really appreciate your time


(14:56) Hilary: Thank you. I appreciate being here.


(14:58) Adam: Thanks for coming on (inaudible 14:58).


(14:58) Hilary: It was just fun. Thank you.




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