ABC Family is a tour de force in social media, and Walenz and her team are largely responsible for the success with their clever and constant multiscreen tie-ins. The summer finale of “Pretty Little Liars” became the most-tweeted episode ever in television history, and the show also holds six of the top eight spots on Twitter’s list of most-tweeted episodes in TV history. With the launch this fall of spinoff “Ravenswood,” Twitter capacity has again been put to the test. “It’s always really exciting and gratifying to see an idea come to fruition and deliver big ratings and big buzz,” she says.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love being creative in all facets of my job and I love branding. I learned branding from the best in the business, Paul Lee, the President of ABC Entertainment, so it’s a joy for me. Plus, it’s always really exciting and gratifying to see an idea come to fruition and deliver big ratings and big buzz.
What’s been the biggest story in cable this year?
There have been so many big stories this year. One of the biggest is when ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” made television history when it nearly broke Twitter by amassing the most tweets in a single hour!
How do you define success in the workplace?
Ratings and revenue are the obvious measurements of success in television; however, just as important to me are the moments when I see my team cheering, laughing, hugging and high-fiving in the hallways over our success and feeling proud of all they have achieved. Retaining top talent for a number of years and doing my best to help others through the Disney ABC Television Group Mentorship Program are also hallmarks of success for me.
Best trick for maintaining the personal-professional life balance?
I’m still trying to figure that one out and learn from my industry peers. Staying connected to my Midwestern roots helps me stay grounded and gratefully, I have an incredible support system from my mother, my four best friends and several trusted advisors.
Who would you want to swap jobs with for a month and why?
I’d love to combine my love of cooking, television and laughing by being a co-host on “The Chew.” Although, I’d be terrified, so maybe not a whole month. I also think I’d love to be the dean of my alma mater, the University of Nebraska—Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications. It would be incredible to give back to the university, which gave me so much.