Managing the complexity, time requirements, and cost
investments of media development can be a daunting challenge,
even for experienced media professionals. The best way
to ensure that a media product will provide a valuable
addition to the park's interpretive program is through
an integrated planning process that defines the interpretive
purpose, target audience, desired outcomes, expectations,
project needs and constraints for a proposed media product.
Park interpreters who understand how this process works
will be able to participate effectively in park media
Upon completion of this component, learners will be
an integrated project definition and planning model
to any media project that they are assigned;
effectively on a media planning team;
effectively with HFC, other media contractors, or
park partners about the purpose, expectations, and
constraints of a project to which they are assigned.
This component presents an ordered thinking/planning
process for park interpreters when embarking on any
media development project. The more integrated a media
project is with the park's interpretive and other planning
documents, including a media plan if one exists, the
more likely the project will produce successful results.
A well-defined and integrated project reduces stress
and uncertainty by forcing park staff to carefully consider
the need, function, and constraints of a project before
the endeavor begins. Work with contractors and cooperators,
if involved, runs more smoothly, minimizing the risk
of unmet expectations. Simple in-house interpretive
projects risk being ineffective if these basic project
definition elements have not been clearly identified.
When park interpreters propose new media products,
or are assigned to assist in developing media, a discussion
to define the elements and issues (presented in this
component) will help clarify the degree of complexity
and level of expertise the project requires. This can
help determine whether to seek the advice/ involvement
of professional media specialists. In addition, Harpers
Ferry Center specialists, other contractors, subject
experts, and technical advisors can provide more effective
input if these elements can be clearly articulated at
the outset of their involvement.
Once the basic parameters of a media project have been
established, a further definition of the interpretive
elements is the next important step. See the related
component in this module entitled Meaningful Media for
guidance in this critical part of the planning process.
It should also be noted that the project definition
process suggested in this module fits into the larger
interpretive planning process as presented in Module
310, Planning Park Interpretation.
A. Describe the interpretive need for this media
B. Determine this project's connection to park planning
documents, legislation, and/or guidelines, including
how the project supports/accomplishes park objectives
and GPRA goals
C. Describe how this project integrates with existing
and other planned park media
D. Determine why a media product for this interpretive
need should be developed at this particular time
Audience, outcomes, and expectations
A. Who are the intended audiences?
B. Define the desired outcomes
1. for park visitors
2. for park resources
3. other potential outcomes (e.g. for park operations,
park neighbors, regional/global concerns)
C. How and where would this media product be presented
D. Are park partners/cooperators or other outside
interests involved and how?
E. How do their expectations for this project differ
from the park's?
Project needs and constraints
A. What is the budgetary support?
B. What are the time constraints?
C. Identify the needed and known resources the project
1. physical resources including
a. specific research materials/documents
b. specific graphic resources (photos/illustrations/maps)
c. exhibit objects/artifacts/specimens
d. archival materials
e. permission to use copyrighted/protected material
2. development/production assistance
a. research and/or text writing
b. content editing
c. photo/graphics/objects searches
d. curatorial services
e. concept development/preliminary design
f. subject expert consultation
g. facility/site consultation
h. safety/compliance oversight
i. construction/fabrication/installation assistance
D. What level of staff time investment/involvement
is park management willing/able to commit?
Help for the Small Museum. Arminta Neal, Pruett Publishing,
second edition, 1987.
Information Design: Tools and Techniques for Park-Produced
Publications. National Park Service. 1998. Proceedings
based on the workshop of the same name that was held
in December 1995 at Cuyahoga Valley NRA.
Interpretive Centers: The History, Design and Development
of Nature and Visitor Centers, Michael Gross and Ron
Zimmerman, The Interpreter’s Handbook Series,
2002. This book contains more than 650 full-color photos
and graphics, and case studies featuring 125 interpretive
Interpretive Master Planning, John A. Veverka, Falcon
Press Publishing Company, Inc., 1994.
Interpretive Process Model, 2002. The Interpretive
Process Model furnishes a sequence of activities with
which an interpreter can develop opportunities for their
audiences to make emotional and intellectual connections
to the meanings of the resource as well as cohesively
develop an idea or ideas that are relevant to the resource
and the audience.
1. Do a survey of existing media products in your park.
How well integrated are they with each other? Can you
easily identify how each one addresses specific interpretive
needs of the park and the desired outcomes? Do existing
interpretive planning documents identify the need for
each existing project?
2. Look through your park's current interpretive planning
documents. What kinds of media development needs are
identified, and what are the desired outcomes? Are some
existing products slated to be replaced when funding
becomes available and why?
3. Start a list of contact people who have expertise
in media planning and development. Locate and study
the Harpers Ferry Center web site to determine what
types of technical assistance are available.
4. Interview interpretive planners in your regional
support office about their positive and negative experiences
working with park media projects.
5. Investigate the possibilities of attending a media
planning meeting at another park as an observer. Discuss
the idea with your supervisor and regional/ support
office interpretive planners.
6. Put out a query on the In-Touch bulletin board for
parks in your region that are currently operating with
an approved park media plan. Obtain a copy to study
and keep as an example.
7. Find out if any of your park's current GPRA goals
deal with media needs. What are the identified goals
and how do they affect the park's desired outcomes for
visitors and/or resources?
to the Top
Media Development Worksheet
Complete the following questionnaire before the first
planning meeting with Harpers Ferry Center media specialists
or contractors. This information should be used as a
starting point for definition, discussion, and decision
making for any media project. If you plan to contract
locally for media services, or have staff expertise
to produce the media in-house, HFC may still be able
to provide technical assistance.
I -- Needs, Outcomes, and Expectations
1. Describe the interpretive need for this media project.
2. What are the desired outcomes for this project?
Outcome(s) for park visitors
Outcome(s) for park resources
3. Cite connections of this project to park planning
documents, legislation, and/or guidelines.
4. How will this media project support/accomplish park
objectives and GPRA goals?
5. Why develop a media product for this interpretive
need at this particular time?
6. What is the budgetary support for this project?
7. Are park partners/cooperators or other outside interests
involved and how?
8. How do their expectations for this project differ
from the park's?
9. What are the time constraints for this project?
10. List other factors or constraints for this project.
11. Who are the intended audiences for this media product?
12. How and where does the park envision this media
product would be presented and why?
13. Is the medium pre-determined, or is there flexibility
in selecting a medium to best meet the interpretive
need within known constraints?
II - Interpretive Content
1. List the primary subject matter areas or information
concepts related to this interpretive need.
2. Are the primary information concepts simple or complex,
concrete or abstract, or mixed?
3. Are there multiple perspectives to convey?
4. What types of known resources/materials (tangible
resources) are available for conveying these information
concepts (i.e., objects/artifacts, photos, slides, first-hand
accounts, stories, historical quotes, video, music,
maps, graphics, physical site locations/resources such
as historic buildings or natural features, primary research
documents, research databases)
5. Brainstorm and list all the intangible meanings
and universal concepts which can be linked to the relevant
6. What possible themes emerge from the previous question?
7. Choose and list one or two potential overall themes
for the product and sub-themes as appropriate.
III - Park Involvement
1. What level of involvement in this media project
is the park interested in pursuing?
2. What staff resources might the park be willing to
Staff time for: