Buy In

Advisers that are considering making The Jump to Online ask me what our biggest challenge is or was. I think they assume that it’s the technical part of it. HTML, compressing video, hyperlinks, etc.  That’s not it at all. The biggest issue that we’ve had is student buy-in.

To be honest, I didn’t even see this coming during our first year.  My TV students were leery about putting their stories online. they just wanted to do stories for the traditional 30 minute show that we produce.  My argument?

  1. Your work reaches a much bigger audience.
  2. There are multiple ways you can tell your story.
  3. Feedback (if applicable) is instantaneous.
  4. Your audience are digital natives. They go to their smartphone, laptop, iPad, etc. first before anything else.
  5. You get to use gadgets like smartphones, laptops, iPads. etc.
  6. It’s just cool.
Regardless of this, my TV producers dug their heels in. “We’ve never done it this way.” was the prevailing sentiment and that was pretty much that.  They had a decent relationship with the online staff, but once in awhile, they’d get some digs in. Obviously, this was not going to work if we were going to move forward.
Over the course of our first year, we found that two things slowly…and I do mean slowly…changed the attitude about getting stories online.  The first, and most important was our sales pitch to the TV and newspaper staffs.  Rather than approaching them with, “What can you give us?”, we changed our question to “What can we do for you?” When they realized that we were there to actually help them, they slowly bought in.
The other tipping point were our site’s stats. Once all of the staffs could track and see how many students were hitting their stories and/or watching their videos, they finally realized that, hey, there might be some value in getting stories online.
I’d love to say that all is well in our J-Room in Year 2, but that’s not entirely the truth. I will say that things have improved and that the majority of the staffs are buying in to this new way of doing things. Getting your staffs to go online and getting them to buy in to a different mindset is challenging, but not impossible.
Have you had trouble with student buy-in? What have you done?

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