Our recent Client Roundtable was a discussion on how to identify a strategic need that research can solve, how to get the most out of your research, and how to integrate insights throughout an organization successfully. In this excerpt, read perspectives from Kim Foulds, VP of Content, Research and Evaluation at Sesame Workshop. Kim’s role at Sesame Workshop is to help parents bring up smarter, stronger, and kinder children throughout the world.
Q: How does Sesame Workshop use strategic insights?
A: Sesame Workshop uses research in a few different ways. We have two research teams. One is market research, and one is content research, which I represent. We start content research by running a needs assessment at the start of any program, whether that’s a new season of a television show or some type of community engagement initiative. Our goal is to deeply understand the needs of the community and make sure that our programming is meeting those needs. We also conduct formative research, and this is where our partnership with Radius really comes in with their approaches to testing our video and print materials.
Q: What are you specifically looking for in this formative research?
A: We are looking for appeal, relevance, and comprehension with families and the children.
We ultimately want to make sure that kids find our content fun and funny, and that they understand the educational messages that we want to teach them. We do this research throughout the life cycle of content creation, and then provide the findings and recommendations to our education and production teams. This helps them integrate these findings that into the final product. Our third big bucket of research is impact research to understand any changes in knowledge, behaviors and attitudes related to the educational messaging. We rely on Radius to perform that impact research with children and their parents so that we can again provide those findings and recommendations to our teams.
Our goal is to deeply understand the needs of the community and make sure that our programming is meeting those needs.”
Q: How important is research to your overall mission?
A: Very. We make a meaningful front-end investment on research to make sure that we are creating responsive content so that we do not ultimately create a beautiful piece of content that does not resonate with families; Children don’t see themselves in it; or they don’t understand the educational message. It’s a good long-term investment for the piece of content that you’re creating.
Q: What are the challenges of doing research internationally?
A: We work in some tough places that have challenging conditions and are difficult to access for lots of reasons. Radius is a partner that has access to the communities we’re working with and has a strong relationship with them. We are interviewing children who are vulnerable and traumatized. Having a strong partner who has relationships with the communities, has the community trust, and has a special set of skills is essential. Radius anticipates our needs and brings us innovations to the research process we haven’t thought of. That’s what makes it an exciting research partnership.
We work in some tough places that have challenging conditions and are difficult to access for lots of reasons. … Having a strong partner who has relationships with the communities, has the community trust, and has a special set of skills is essential.”
Q: Would you consider research a bit of a team sport?
A: I’ve never thought about it that way, but it’s lovely phrasing. It’s about providing options and recommendations and opening the door to how actionable they can be. We rely on our research partner to present directly to the project team. I think that’s been really key for us in leveraging insights.
See Webinars for a complete recording of the Roundtable.