NATPE Education Foundation Understands Influence

by theaudioprof on January 27, 2009


I’m starting my second day here as a Faculty Fellow at the National Association of Television Programming Executives convention in Las Vegas.  Our first day was devoted to special programming designed especially for faculty members by Greg Pitts, the Director of Faculty & Student Programs for the NATPE Education Foundation.  I’ll be sharing some of the insights from these sessions over the next few blog posts.  But for now I want to share a little bit of wisdom given to us by Lew Kline.  Kline is the founder of NATPE and the current president of the NATPE Educational Foundation.  According to the Faculty Fellow program,

The NATPE Educational Foundation was founded in 1978 to promot educational activities on behalf of the association through seminars, grants, workshops, meetings, instructional recordings, and conferences.natpe_ed_found_banner1

And while that is a noble goal, what struck me was a story the Kline told during his early morning welcoming remarks.  The Educational Foundation started by doing what most other professional organizations probably do when they want to reach out to the education community:  they offered student scholarships.  Kline said that they quickly realized that this was not the best approach.  While the students that were selected to attend NATPE in those early years were certainly bright, capable, and likely to succeed…the problem was that the ability to predict whether they would remain in the TV (or even in the entertainment or communications industries) was low.  So, they ended up having scholarships for people who went on to be great lawyers or doctors or accountants or whatever.

Then, according to Kline, the lightbulb went off and the NATPE Educational Foundation Board realized that what they should instead to is fund scholarships to faculty members in Telecommunication/Communication/Journalism departments.  By showing the TEACHERS how things really were in the industry they could be better likely to have the knowledge and information trickle down to more people.

Great insight, and great marketing.  Get to those who can communicate your message by word-of-mouth.  There are faculty here from 26 different colleges and universities–from as far away as American University in Dubai and University of Teesside (UK).  And diversity in terms of the racial make up of the student body (I’ve met faculty from Grambling, a historically black unversity) to the size and expectations of the university (research universities like Indiana and small private colleges like Elizabethtown College).  We’re all here on the NATPE dime…but we’re asking question and taking notes like mad…because we’re expected to spread the word.  And, because they have treated me to such a rare opportunity, I most certainly will.

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