We hope you see this. We are two of your original OWN viewers. From day one we jumped on board and embraced OWN. We even created a side-job for ourselves with the goal to get others to see the lessons and the love from the Oprah Winfrey Network. Not just to build your new brand but to build an OWN following. Through the journey, we’ve reached out and grown support. Just like in Marketing 101 – your best sales team is your customers and what they are saying about you. Empower them and it comes back to you. Don’t empower them and that comes back to you too. It’s all about energy…you all taught us that. Energy. So, while you probably have your heads down trying to navigate through this OWN journey from the inside, we hope that this is your whisper to look up…and hear our objective and unsolicited thoughts. We hope you value this…and in turn, also value us. We are your audience…your viewers…and two of your original OWN ambassadors. Here are our talking points.
OWN is a Start-Up… Please ACT accordingly. Start-up companies’ have a new vision and work to be ahead of everyone. Visionaries with mindsets tuned in and quick to react, using outreach to everywhere that will listen and always looking for anyone to help. Always an “act now and ask for forgiveness later” attitude. “Get it to market first. Damn the red tape! We’ll figure out how to make it happen!” The energy is electric. Everyone is on a steep learning curve… At first, you had this…a little. Your energy was electric but some of that was more about ending The Oprah Winfrey Show. Then, you were tired. Even a little summer break couldn’t offset the layoffs and restructuring that happened a year ago last May. With a big high…comes a big low. It’s the way of the wave.
OWN is a start-up operating in a big business world. We’ve seen this before. OWN is not big but also not nimble like most start-ups are. You will never get to prove yourself to the cable world if you are operating from a big business mindset – where everything is a little more heavy footed with dragging feet and instead of “let’s do this now,” it’s more like “this will get done in 9 to 18 months…” You can have the start-up mindset again…it starts with finding the energy that’s electric…and being a little fearless.
Decide what you want to be. We heard someone recently say, “Are they a production company or a network? Because they can put together great shows for TV but they aren’t just making great shows, they are running a network.” You know how to do award-winning programs and you could do that all day, run circles around most and make a lot of money for it…if that is what you want to do. But if you want to be a network, you need more than that. Plain and simple – If you want to be a network, you need more than Oprah. Oprah, we love you but you cannot do it all. If everything is built on your shoulders then, the foundation is shaky plus its crazy! What if something happens to you – will your vision live on? If you want to really make this a network, you need more Oprah’s. Find them…and make the vision the foundation, not Oprah.
Live Your Vision. What is your vision? Don’t take forever with a 6 month Marketing cycle to figure it out – just write it down. Someone grab a pencil and spell it out. What it looked like on January 1, 2011 is not what it looks like now. Trial and error and life have changed that first vision and it SHOULD change. With every lesson learned, your vision should become more clear… or not. Isn’t that part of learning from the journey?
After you find it, empower and entrust your viewers with it. If you don’t trust your viewers to be your sales team…then who are you trusting? Yes, it doesn’t go unnoticed that the Lifeclass bloggers were a great idea…each having great readership and reach, traveling with you with an infusion of energy and lessons to take out into the world. So while that’s great for the “inspiration wave,” what about the OWN wave? Who is still talking about OWN and its programs and why people should watch? Who is still pushing the OWN wave towards new viewers to help build your network? Who is talking about the shows and working to drive people to watch? Just a simple question – who is pushing the OWN wave and who’s moved on to other waves to push? While the “inspiration wave” is wonderful…to take a lesson from Lifeclass…if OWN doesn’t fill its OWN cup first, then there’s no wave of overflowing current for the inspiration to ride on. Think about it.
Understand Social Media Sociology. Social Media like Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and more have brought a new dimension to the table…and a new opportunity. You can pay all the money in your marketing and research budget to people who will tell you what you should do or how you should do it…and maybe you have…but from this side, you are missing the connection in a big way.
There’s a Sociology of social media and someone needs to understand that connection for OWN. While social media is a way to get people talking about OWN, it’s also a way for people to feel not part of the conversation. There’s a personal connection that social media offers that has not been there before for television programming and technology. No longer cold and detached, there is an opportunity to connect and feel connected. This has been Oprah for more than 25 years – offering a personal connection and making viewers feel like they collectively belong. With social media in play, it’s a balance of connecting…but it’s a big one and one that one woman cannot do alone. (Have you seen Oprah’s feed catches fire when someone sees she’s on Twitter?) But here’s the opportunity – when OWN and Oprah connect with the viewers’ its electric… It’s that start-up energy that we mentioned before.
Social Media has energy that is put out into the world and it’s easy to read and see where the energy is going. It’s a new world – and with it, brings new opportunities. Take a moment and check out Friends of Ricki. In fact, send an advocate to the Ricki Lake Show’s office for 2 days to shadow and learn as much as you can, and then, give them the power to implement this kind of program with OWN. Having program meetings on LiveStream and actually interacting with viewers from all over the world and asking for their feedback and ideas? Taking the time to not only build a viewer community but value a viewer community? You had this with The Oprah Winfrey Show. Don’t lose this with The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Months ago, we sent ideas to your team on creating an OWN Viewer Advisory Board or putting some thought around building an official OWN Ambassador Program so that viewers could take the messages out to the world and more importantly, be the best advocates for the network. Has the last four years gone by so quickly that we forget that it was from a start-up grass-roots program for change that a President was elected into office? Don’t underestimate the value of an Oprah supporter and an OWN viewer…but even more important than that, value us.