Oh, the irony. When Turner svp, corporate communications Shirley Powell learned from Adult Swim that last month’s bomb scare in Boston was her company’s fault, she was watching CNN‘s coverage of the panic in her office. "What you quickly learn is that you are much better off with a strong leader than a strong plan," she said, referring to chairman/CEO Phil Kent.
Her remarks came during a frank panel with mouthpieces for some of cable’s biggest companies during WICT‘s Leadership Conference in NY. Also on the hot seat was Jeanine Liburd, who heads corporate communications at Viacom.
Liburd talked about having to separate her personal feelings from what’s right for the company, referring to MTVN‘s layoffs of 250 employees. "I think, unfortunately in this instance, the business reasons were clear," she said of the move. "Our company is in an evolution."
As for Adult Swim’s marketing stunt that ended up costing Turner $2 million, Powell said the company’s own CNN was the most aggressive with its coverage. "CNN was obsessed with this story," she said.
WICT’s first- ever Leadership Conference looks like a hit, with Wed morning’s general session drawing a standing room-only crowd at the NY Hilton. Some 555 attendees had registered as of Tues.
Highlights from the morning’s leadership panel included Comcast Voice svp Cathy Avgiris’ call for more diversity. "It’s a very small, almost incestuous, industry," said Avgiris, who actually came to cable from forklift manufacturing.
USA/Sci Fi pres Bonnie Hammer’s leadership advice included pushing the credit down to employees and having their back when they make mistakes.
WideOpenWest‘s Colleen Abdoulah went so far as to celebrate some of her staffer’s mistakes. The overbuilder has offered a "Take a Chance" award for the past 5 years, twice rewarding risks that succeeded. The other 3 times it celebrated something that didn’t work out but from which the company learned.
A&E TV Networks president/CEO Abbe Raven’s nugget: recognize that you have to surround yourself with the right players—sometimes it may mean bidding good-bye to someone who doesn’t have that passion.
— Nice of Lifetime to help secure White House Project founder Marie Wilson for the inspiring opening keynote that drew a standing ovation.