When our industry gathered last month in Philadelphia for the 2023 Content Conference, PRPD made a couple of very important announcements that affect all of our members, sponsors and stakeholders. We are at a moment of transformation. For its entire 37 year history, PRPD has served public radio program directors, the one person at each station charged with successfully delivering their products to as many radio listeners as possible. Over the years, PRPD has had a positive impact on the whole industry by helping program directors to be successful at growing radio audiences, which in turn provided the revenue necessary to run their stations. Broadcast program directors are now one of several in their organizations who deliver products to audiences through a variety of different channels. With the dramatic shifts in media in recent years and traditional radio listening giving way to digital and mobile consumption, our industry needs different kinds of training, access to different insights and data, more professional development and better learning opportunities that will help the industry face the challenges that are now before us. PRPD can no longer afford to stay the same course we've been on since 1986.
In early 2022, as the end of the pandemic came into focus, the PRPD Board of Directors held a retreat to talk about our future as an organization. We decided to embark on a strategic planning process to chart our path forward and we contracted with S. Sutton and Associates to conduct an organizational assessment. The strategic plan was adopted by the Board of Directors in September of 2022 and work began immediately on the most foundational elements - our mission, our purpose and our organizational identity. Our partners at the consulting firm Workhorse Collaborative took us through a rebranding process that led to our new name - The Public Media Content Collective. The PMCC is a membership organization that empowers public media content leaders, managers and professionals to understand, grow and serve audiences within an increasingly complex and competitive multi-platform media environment. We serve mission-driven media outlets, noncommercial radio stations, national networks and distributors of public media content, researchers, consultants and professional content producers, bringing together a dynamic group of public media practitioners, experts and industry thought leaders to help our members to do their very best work. While our membership includes a wide variety of roles, geographies and perspectives, PMCC members are united in their commitment to developing thought-provoking, relevant and impactful content that contributes to the betterment of our American culture. We gave our conference attendees a sneak preview of our new visual identity and our plan is to finish building our new website, migrate our archives to our new membership platform and make all the necessary organizational adjustments for a name change in the next few months. We will begin the new year of 2024 as the Public Media Content Collective.
We also made an announcement regarding the annual Content Conference, explaining that we are taking a pause so the board can do some strategic work to make the event sustainable. Just to give some context, its important to know how the conference industry works. Using a hotel conference center provides the most convenient experience for attendees as people don't have to navigate finding their way around a strange city. Its easier for an organization to have all their conference needs taken care of with one vendor, such as catering, logistics and audiovisual support, which are the services offered by hotels. They also have adequate meeting spaces and the necessary staff on-site, so this is why we hold conferences at hotels. In order to secure an adequate hotel venue at the best price, we have to book our locations at least two years, ideally three years, in advance. That requires our small organization to commit ourselves financially to a hotel meeting space for hundreds of thousands of dollars years before we know whether or not we can cover those costs. This year, due to economic pressures on the entire industry, we were not able to cover our costs and we are facing a significant financial loss on the 2023 Content Conference. We are not big enough to handle significant financial losses year after year without causing the organization's ultimate demise, so we are pumping the breaks. However, just since making this announcement, we have learned a lot from people about what they value in a national conference. While we don't have all the answers yet, here is what we can tell you about the future of convenings.
- WE ARE TAKING A YEAR OFF FROM PRODUCING A NATIONAL CONFERENCE. We will not hold a large national conference in 2024, but we will explore some smaller gatherings, perhaps regional convenings or format focused summits that will be smaller in scale and targeted to specific cohorts. For instance, since 2024 is an election year, we may choose to hold a convening for music formats in the fall and follow that up with a News/Talk convening the following spring. We will not stop bringing people together, but our board needs time to do our due diligence and create a plan that serves your needs without harming the long-term health of the organization.
- THE CONTENT CONFERENCE WILL BE BACK IN 2025! We heard that message loud and clear! There was a great level of disappointment expressed by many people about our decision to take a pause and some wondered if The Content Conference would be back at all. We are committed to producing a national conference in 2025 and will announce as soon as we find a venue and secure a date.
Transforming an organization is one of the most exciting things we get to do in our careers. The future is bright for this respected organization as we build upon the strong foundation that's been established for almost forty years. We look forward to welcoming you in to this new organization and working collectively to raise the bar for all of public media. Thank you for your on-going membership and support.
President & Executive Director