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As a public broadcaster and non-profit corporation, PBS is on a tight budget. But because it’s largely funded by its member supporters, the organization needs to gather accurate insight to better serve viewers of America’s public TV stations.

PBS has a wide reach: 200 million people, which is 82% of all U.S. television households, watch PBS over the course of a year. It’s also been rated as the most trustworthy institution among nationally-known organizations for 14 consecutive years.

In a recent webinar, Susan Frazier, director of custom research from PBS, shared how the public broadcaster creates customer-led marketing campaigns that boosted ratings by 22 percent while saving the organization $650,000 in research costs.

Engage your loyal customers

Because PBS depends a great deal on “Viewers Like You,” it should come as no surprise that’s who they engage with to understand evolving needs and preferences. A key tool to engage with customers its insight community. Viewers opt in to share thoughts that shape marketing and content creation, and ultimately, help improve ratings, said Frazier. Members are already highly engaged with PBS. Ninety-seven percent of them self-report watching PBS at least once a week, and 33 percent said they watch at least once a day.

"Having our most loyal viewers in this community allows to get us really honest feedback about PBS. These views feel like they have real stake in this organization. They don’t hold back when we ask them for feedback."

Get customer feedback early

Feedback from the community on messaging and creative concepts helps PBS improve and refine its efforts to better reach its target audiences with impactful assets and information. But it’s important to get that feedback early in the process, said Frazier, especially for the programming and marketing departments.

“They can make better decisions on audience preferences early in their development of campaigns or content.”

Challenge assumptions with insight

Frazier said it’s also important get in touch with customers to challenge assumptions when there’s disagreements on strategy, and having the insight community makes it easy.

“We can quickly get the pulse of our viewers and recommend a decision based on actual insight.”

Avoid asking repetitive questions

Part of valuing feedback from viewers also means understanding their time is valuable, said Frazier. The community enables PBS to build deeper profiles of its members and send  relevant activities to the right people.

"We’re not asking them for the same information or things they should already know about them."

Share results with your customers

Be sure to the close the feedback loop, said Frazier, and let customers know how their input is shaping decisions. Letting them know their participation is valuable ensures it will continue.

Honesty is invaluable

Even though members of PBS' insight community are already viewers, it doesn’t mean they view the public broadcaster with rose-colored glasses. Their love of PBS means their feedback is all the more useful.

"They’re not shy about telling use when we’ve come up short.”

To learn more about the ROI of creating customer-led marketing campaigns, watch an on-demand recording of our webinar with PBS.

Messaging that hits the mark with PBS

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was the former Content Marketing Manager and was responsible for Vision Critical's blog and social media marketing program. Before joining Vision Critical's global marketing team, Kelvin worked at Dunn PR, a Vancouver-based public relations firm. His experience includes working with lifestyle, real estate, and non-profit clients to develop social media marketing and PR strategies. Kelvin has a Bachelor of Business Administration from SFU's Beedie School of Business.
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