In Summer 2011, the Technology Division led the “Options for Division Webinars” report for the Divisions Council’s Education Committee. The report was presented at the 2011 Divisions Council Business Meeting in Washington DC.
This report provided a description of existing services, both external and in-house, available to APA divisions for hosting and broadcasting webcasts to their members and other interested professionals, and specifically looked at the external Planning Webcast series. In addition, it included an analysis of options for expanding these services. The report was produced in response to a request from the APA Divisions Council (DC).
DC should seek ways to complement the external Planning Webcast series.
1. While the external webcast series offers advanced and allied webcasts, the bulk of its offerings cover introductory topics that attract a large participation. By achieving the necessary critical mass of participants, it becomes feasible to keep the registration free while keeping fees low and benefits high. Thus, DC should encourage a limited revenue model of paid webcasts only for advanced topics that typically attract senior planning professionals within the external webcast series. For this purpose, DC should consider a separate market survey on topics and their associated price-points. Also, towards such a limited revenue model, DC has proposed simple calculations for prospective webcasts. It is estimated that after offsetting for the decrease in participation as a result of a paid model, smaller divisions could likely make yearly profits of a couple of thousand dollars.
2. It is estimated that any loss in participation resulting from a paid model could partially or completely be offset by some increase in participation resulting from APA’s marketing and outreach. Thus, DC should consider leveraging APA’s organizational size, 501(c)(3) status and mailing lists to help market a paid model within the external webcast series while helping limit operating costs.
3. Alternatively, DC should consider proposing a “public broadcasting”
model to generate revenue. Under this model, divisions would not directly charge fees for their webcasts. However, they would actively encourage their participants to pay for the service. This is similar to the business model used by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) to offset some of the costs of its programming.
Co-ownership of the Planning Webcast Series
Currently, APA does not have any significant co-ownership of the external webcast series. Increase in its co-ownership would likely enhance acceptability and quality of this series, thus benefitting the participants. Thus, APA should consider collaboration with the instructors and co-sponsors to gradually assume a mutually acceptable level of co-ownership.
DC should encourage all participating divisions to link to their webcasts from their home pages on www.planning.org.
DC should encourage all participating divisions increase their visibility. Towards this, DC should actively encourage participants to join its ranks, e.g. by adding links for joining divisions to registration emails sent to the participants of the external Planning Webcast series.
It is the committee’s understanding that APA attempted adding logos to the landing page (www.utah-apa.org/webcasts). APA should reconsider this identity branding via targeted banner advertisements with more flexible logo requirements. Additionally, APA should consider promoting the webcasts on www.planning.org/webcasts via mirroring etc. Note that this would require APA to be prompt in updating its website with regards to webcast schedules.
Since it is currently not feasible to have APA run the registration instead of GoToMeeting’s integrated system without introducing unpredictability and high fees, APA should consider copying the registration data for marketing purposes- including ratings, topics, speakers and traffic, to www.planning.org.
More information is available at www.gisblog.org/options-for-division-webinars