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In Data She Trusts: Alumna Puts DMDA Degree to Work at PBS Station

Rachel Scott points at data on screen
Rachel Scott MA ’20 applies Digital Marketing and Data Analytics (DMDA) skills to her digital media manager job, reviewing Google Analytics Data with New England Public Media Executive Producer Tony Dunne. [Photo/ Dave Fraser]

By Molly Loughman 

As digital media manager at New England Public Media (NEPM), Rachel Scott, MA ’20 is in charge of capturing audiences, getting them engaged, and keeping them loyal to her station. It’s a big job in a competitive media environment, but Scott came prepared.

“Inspiring communities, especially now, is really important with social distancing, and seeing the great work still going on in the community,” said Scott, who puts her Digital Marketing and Data Analytics (DMDA) online master’s degree to work at WGBY-TV/NEPM-TV, a PBS affiliate in Western Massachusetts.

“[The DMDA program] gave me a really good base of where digital is at and where it’s going. It’s instilled in us the importance of keeping up with changes and what customers want,” says Scott. “We want to be educating the public as lifelong learners, from cradle to grave, as they say.”

A community-supported nonprofit based out of Springfield, NEPM delivers local and national programs across four TV channels, two radio networks, online and mobile, via PBS and NPR programs, plus locally produced series, podcasts and specials. Scott oversees digital properties for NEPM’s public affairs show, Connecting Point, including social media accounts, YouTube channel, and website, which she uses to disseminate content and engage audiences.

“It’s a constant feedback loop. It’s finding the target audiences and meeting the people there. It’s turning those people from occasional viewers into loyalists, supporters, and advocates for your company. That’s tied into the reciprocal relationship and making sure you’re meeting community needs,” says Scott.

Data-Driven

Scott, who majored in marketing and communications at UMass-Amherst, began working at then-WGBY in 2010. When was promoted to senior online coordinator in 2012, she began looking for graduate programs to hone her digital skills and came upon Emerson’s DMDA program. 

“What attracted me to this DMDA program was building on traditional marketing skills that I already have in a way that focuses on current marketing and future technologies,” says Scott.

Rachel scott works on laptop
Scott edits video clips for social media. [Photo/Dave Fraser]

She recalls her introduction to DMDA from Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director Sereikhuoch Eng. “In one of Serei’s classes, the opening slide was, ‘In God we trust. All others bring data,’” says Scott.

“[Eng was saying,] even though marketing is a creative field, you can use data and data science to actually put hard proof to show what you’re doing is working — rather than throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping some of it sticks.” 

“Rachel is someone who has pretty high-level critical thinking, so she was pretty mindful of all the various needs associated with different groups of consumers,” says Eng, who researches consumer decision-making, new media behavior, and response to innovations. “And that’s what we teach in this DMDA program, that in the modern marketing world, we want to be quite clear. When we market something, we market it more purposefully and customarily.” 

Strategic Storytelling

To help boost engagement and outreach to the Latinx community of Western Mass, Scott worked on PBS’s Presencia, an eight-episode, once a year TV program. Today, she works on a weekly public affairs news-style program, Connecting Point.

“We’re really trying to connect communities with resources and inform them in a more robust fashion. The ‘coming together’ of the community is one of the things we try to highlight,” she explains.

Scott also said a fundamental part of her job is trying to get viewers to engage with the station’s content in new ways, such as livestreamed channels.

“That’s what the DMDA program is about: Not just pushing content out there, but hearing the feedback from your target audience, and then producing content that matches that feedback,” Scott says.

Rachel Scott takes photo of colleague on set with phone
Scott takes behind-the-scenes shots of Connecting Point host Zydalis Bauer for social media. [Photo/Dave Fraser]

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