PBS NewsHour Events - Case Study

Executive Summary

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) partnered with Whova in 2021 to connect students virtually during their second annual two-week-long career development event. Utilizing Whova’s virtual platform, attendees of the online conference adopted interactive features that led to a successful, highly engaging virtual event.

Organizer Testimonial

Whova helped our team build a strong sense of community with students from diverse cities across the country. During a time when screen fatigue was and still is very real, Whova’s interactive features fueled engagement and allowed us to be creative in ways we didn’t think were possible in a virtual space. Elis Estrada


About PBS NewsHour SRL Academy

The SRL Academy helps open learners’ minds by offering multi-disciplinary programs and a wide variety of training programs. In June 2021, the PBS NewsHour SRL Academy connected teen journalism students online for a second time with a full-time, intensive fellowship program. During these two weeks, the teens studied journalism virtually through various courses, all powered by Whova.  

Partnering with Whova led to a genuinely successful virtual event. Attendees were engaged and enjoyed the experience of an online event. 82% of attendees loved using the Whova app. In total, SRL Academy live-streamed 12 hours of video content over 20 virtual sessions to deliver an informative, engaging, and valuable experience for the teen journalists in attendance. 


App Adoption


Loved Whova


Announcement Open Rate


While many live events were canceled or delayed by the Coronavirus, the pandemic did not diminish the demand for conferences. This is where online events come in. The SRL Academy worked with Whova to make sure this 2-week online event was a success by addressing concerns such as:

  • Encouraging participation

SRL Academy was tasked with encouraging attendees’ participation in discussions and keeping them in contact with organizers. This task was challenging without organizers being in the same physical space, but the Whova app made it simple and convenient. 

  • Building an online community

Engaging participants directly is only part of the equation. To make everyone in their event feel connected, the organization needed to make sure participants had opportunities available to interact and grow with others attending the event online.

  • Promoting the event

Though this was their second virtual event, the organization initially found registration and promoting attendance challenging. The SRL Academy had to find a way to drive online registration and attendance in a way that addresses the challenges faced by virtual events.

  • Managing registration and attendance

When planning an online event, managing registration can be complex and usually involves importing information from complicated third-party systems. The SRL Academy wanted a simple way to manage registration and attendance that would be convenient for both organizers and attendees.


1. Whova simplifies virtual registration and participation by eliminating these concerns, allowing organizers to get in touch with attendees by sending announcements through both email and in-app notifications. These updates keep attendees apprised of changes while encouraging them to participate in the event. There was a remarkable 100% announcement open rate and 100% app adoption rate during the SRL Academy digital event.

Once attendees knew of the sessions they wanted to attend, organizers needed to keep them engaged, and the Whova app simplified this. With a 100% download rate at this event, all participants could engage during a session with features like a chat sidebar, Q&A, and polling in-app. Encouraging attendees to use the Whova app allows them to get the most out of your event with these features. 

2. The Whova app can help organizers by giving them the tools to build an engaged online community. This is where Whova’s Community Board shines, connecting everything from event announcements to attendee interaction with an event-wide forum where attendees can create and join discussion topics. This feature keeps attendees active in the event by letting them join discussions and communicate with fellow participants using the Community Board.

Using the Whova app can turn your event goers into a community of participants, with features like the Social Wall, a central page where attendees can see what is happening, displaying tweets and Instagram posts in real-time. The Social Wall ran for 50 hours at the SRL Academy, with the organizers displaying live updates for attendees. SRL Academy created eight unique social groups during the event, where attendees engaged virtually and sent hundreds of messages within the Whova app. 

PBS NewsHour SRL Academy 2021 - Social Wall

Organizers can display announcements and community interaction through Whova’s Social Wall

3. The SRL Academy used multiple tools in the Whova app to better manage online promotion. Using Whova’s Agenda Webpage Builder, the organization created branded, mobile-friendly web pages that showcased their event’s agenda. Customization options let organizations decide what they want to show attendees on their agenda web page’s mobile and desktop versions.

PBS NewsHour SRL Academy 2021 - Speaker Center

Organizers can use the Speaker Center to easily gather and manage speaker details, as well as generating profession speaker webpages through Whova

Whova’s Speaker Center allowed speakers to enter their information and details, which can be turned into a speaker webpage, saving organizers time. Organizations could create sleek web pages that could easily be embedded in their site while automatically syncing with up-to-date agenda information using the Whova app. By quickly creating agenda and speaker webpages using the Whova app, SRL Academy could better promote and engage with attendees during this event.

4. Using Whova’s registration system, there was no need to worry about importing attendees’ information onto the event platform, like they would have to with a third-party system. Instead, the organizer could easily integrate attendee information into the event the moment attendees signed up. Whova registration uses a payment system that varies on the organization’s needs for events. For this event, tickets were free, which meant SRL Academy’s use of Whova registration was also completely free. 

PBS NewsHour SRL Academy 2021 - Registration
By managing ticketing with Whova, attendee information was automatically integrated with the platform

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