Sunday, May 25, 2014

TWiT Network Changes and May 2014 Update from the CEO

Our vision is to build a tech community and serve it well.  Leo and I want to cater to a tech-centric audience and deliver intelligent, thought provoking content.  We made changes at the beginning of 2014 and we will make more changes before the year is over.

Earlier this year we hired Mike Elgan to join our team as News Director and lead host of "Tech News Today".  We also launched "Tech News 2Night" because I wanted to provide our audience with an afternoon tech news show using a shorter and different format from our morning news show.  We also promoted one of our editors, Bryan Burnett, to cohost "Know How..." with Father Robert Ballecer and Shannon Morse shifted roles and is currently a co-host on "Coding 101".  We recently hired Tonya Hall who launched "Marketing Mavericks" and she also works with our production team on supporting existing shows and creating news ones.

We expect to launch more shows this year and continue to make changes to existing shows.  Some shows may have host changes, some shows may be retired, some shows may have format changes and all shows will be given a tremendous amount of energy and support to succeed on our network.

We are launching four new shows in the next couple of months and we anticipate launching more shows next quarter.  Jason Howell is launching "Android App Arena" on June 13, 2014 and we are very close to launching "RedditUp".  We are finalizing the details and set for "I'd Fund That!" and wrapping up the graphics for "Padre's Corner".  I have several show treatments on my desk that will be addressed as soon as we get these shows off the ground.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Quick Tip - Organizing Email

Email is a powerful tool that assists most businesses today but it can also hinder work performance. Your email has to be set up efficiently or you will waste time, lower your output and miss opportunities.

Here are my tips for how I stay organized and keep my "in box" manageable.

1.  On average I receive 500 emails per day and 60% need my attention.  Therefore my inbox has several incoming folders which is sorted by people and priority.  I currently have ten different inboxes for my incoming mail which allows me to open my email by priority and answer them quickly.

Example: I oversee a sales team that consists of outside sales teams, outside brokers and inside sales teams.  Therefore all of my email from these teams is allocated to my Sales inbox.  I also have a VIP folder for my managers at TWiT as well as a separate folder for the founder.

2.  Time is important to everyone.  When I address my inbox I allow myself 30 seconds to answer it, delegate it, or allocate it to another folder because it takes longer than 30 seconds to address.

Example:  I have four pending folders if I need more than 30 seconds to address an email.   The first is my "to do" folder which means the email requires further action from me.  The second is my review folder which means I have reports or other documents to review, the third is my personal folder and the fourth is my executive folder which means I have business to discuss with the executive team.

3.  Limit the number of times you check your email each day.  It is critical for me to have time to work, think, research and manage my teams which I simply cannot achieve if I am checking email all day long.  Therefore I check email in the morning, after lunch and at the end of my workday.  Because I am an executive I also check it at night and when I wake up in the morning.

4.  Brevity is key to email.  Keep your emails short and concise unless you are confirming specific points of a conversation or allocating work.  I also follow a three email rule if clarity is an issue.  If you are going back and forth by email and a point is unclear then stop emailing by the third email and pick up the phone.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Growing TWiT Beyond Leo Laporte

The number one reason I took a job at TWiT was because Leo Laporte wanted to grow TWiT beyond Leo Laporte.  Leo wanted to serve the tech community and planned to see the tech community taken care of long after he was gone.  In 2010 TWiT was Leo Laporte, at least all of the income generated by TWiT was from Leo's shows.

It is 2013 and based on the first nine months of this year Leo's shows are still responsible for 85% of the income generated at TWiT.  It was my professional goal to have Leo's shows responsible for less than half of the income generated by TWiT by the end of 2013 and to provide Leo with a more balanced life.  I have clearly missed both of these goals.  As CEO I am responsible for the business direction of TWiT and I own my work, my victories, my mistakes, and my missed goals.

Currently I am planning 2014 and it is essential I take time to reflect on my work, the direction of TWiT, and what I need to do to make TWiT successful.  In January of 2014 TWiT is launching two new shows and without Leo hosting them.  The first is a programming show starring Father Robert Ballecer and Shannon Morse.  The second is an evening news show starring Sarah Lane, Iyaz Akhtar, Jason Howell, Father Robert Ballecer, and Shannon Morse.  I have also modified TWiT's programming schedule to provide Leo with two days off in a row and shifted his hosting duties on The Giz Wiz to Chad Johnson and Before You Buy to Father Robert Ballecer.

We will see what 2014 holds for TWiT and what realistic goals I can set to move Leo's company forward and transform it into a network.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Advertising Sales at TWiT - Has TWiT Turned Down New Advertisers?

TWiT has and will continue to turn down advertisers.  Why?  Because Leo and I do not believe in their products/services OR their products/services do not fit our audience OR we have current advertising partners with similar or the same products/services.

Content drives TWiT, not money.  Money allows us to hire exceptional hosts, build sets, improve our website and push our network out to every possible platform available but sales is not our number one focus.  I actually drive my sales team crazy because I say no more often than I say yes to new advertisers.  

TWiT has been selective about advertisers since it's very first netcast.  Leo did not want to consider advertisers for TWiT and wanted to create content and have it solely supported by audience contributions.  When Leo decided to allow minimal advertisers on his network he was selective from day one.  Why?  Because he only wants to consider advertisers who his audience would be passionate about and because he did not want to annoy them with too many ads.

My best advice when considering ads on your network is to make sure it makes sense for your audience.  If not, walk away and find another way to make money.  Put your content first and serve your audience first.  Money will follow.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Advertising Sales at TWiT Part Three - Why it Works

In addition to our advertising format, our sales team works carefully with our partners on messaging, show selection, offers/discounts and marketing campaigns.  It's imperative that the billboard grabs our audience and entices them to hear more about our partner's product/service.  We believe in full disclosure.  If a partner requires our audience to provide information about themselves before revealing pricing, plans, etc. then we require our partner to build a custom landing page for our audience and fully disclose pricing.  Transparency is critical.  The interstitial ad includes details about the product/service, why our audience should consider it, pricing, and what our audience receives if they buy/use their product/service.  We work closely with our partners on offer codes and urls and ask our partners to consider free trials on services and discounts on products.  We request they keep all offers intact for the duration of their ad campaign.  Consistent offers show our audience that our partners care about our network and stand behind their own product/service.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Advertising Sales at TWiT Part Two - TWiT's Recipe

Here is the TWiT recipe for ad format on a show.  Each partner receives two ads and the first ad position is also called a billboard.  The billboard is read at the top of the show and tends to be 10-15 seconds long which provides our audience with a brief overview of our partner's product/service.  The second ad position is also know as the interstitial ad and we position these ads to be 1 - 2 minutes long.  However most interstitial ads are a lot longer because hosts have personal experiences with the product/service and other hosts on the show contribute their experiences too.  Our advertising recipe works on our network and it takes a lot of our time educating partners on our format and how messaging works with our audience.

Petaluma River, photo by Lisa Kentzell

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Advertising Sales at TWiT Part One - How Does it Work?

I am constantly asked about TWiT's advertising sales and the number one question I am asked is how does it work?  Before I can dive into how, we have to start with who we work with and why.

First, we only works with quality partners who have integrity and products/services we believe in.  Our goal at TWiT is to find partners who are interested in establishing long-term relationships with us.  Leo and I review all potential partners which includes researching the company and its founders.  We both have to be 100% satisfied with a new partner before we will do business with them. Why?  Because our integrity means everything to us.

Second, we are extremely selective in how many ads we are willing to place on our shows.  Our advertising strategy consists of two partner ads on a show, we do not exceed four partners on any given show, and we spend a lot of time on the messaging with our partners to critique it for our audience. Why do we do this?  Because it works!  We have tested advertising campaigns and audience recall.  We discovered there was an 80% increase in ad recall if we had two ads for each partner on a show.  Our two ad process combined with fewer ads on a show increase the effectiveness of our ads.  It's our goal at TWiT to deliver quality products/services that our audience wants while limiting the number of ads in a show.