Happy New Year! The scarcity of media mavens and moguls (many of whom have decamped to Los Angeles for TCA) made for a quieter than usual dining room at Michael’s today. But no matter. It gave me that much more time to spend with a terrific trio of talented television vets. I was joined today by Gail Yancosek, Susan Iger and Carol Anne Riddell who gave me the lowdown on their nascent media company, Gail Yancosek Consulting, specializing in branded content videos, media training, message development and marketing.
Gail, who spent 12 years as vice president/executive producer of Fox 5’s Good Day New York, and Susan, whose CV includes top production jobs at WABC and WNBC as well as helming Al Roker Productions, have known each other for years. They met their “kid sister” Carol Anne, former NBC News 4 anchor, at CUNY-TV, where Gail and Susan develop and produce public affairs series and specials. Carol Anne hosts Science & U! and is a reporter for the station.
It was Gail’s idea to form the partnership and start the company. “She’s the boss and the rainmaker!” said Carol Anne, to which Gail replied, “I have no problem asking anyone for anything.”
Before making things official, said Gail, “We spent a lot of time talking about what we could do, offering a very professional product at a reasonable cost.” While no one is giving up their CUNY-TV gig (“We love the opportunity the station gives us to produce new programs,” said Gail. “It’s part-time and allows us the freedom to do other things”), the gals couldn’t be more excited about their new venture.
With all the talk about branded content these days, Gail Yancosek Consulting is leveraging the partners’ collective production and reporting experience to create branded content videos to a whole host of industries and individuals looking to finesse their marketing message and connect with their customers (and their all-important social media followers) with a polished, professional product.
Digital media has changed the conversation about marrying editorial and advertising, said Susan, and savvy companies are looking to create a digital presence to bridge the gap between the two: “It’s a different paradigm. The nature of the Internet made it OK.”
“It’s a great time to do this,” said Carol Anne. “Brands don’t want traditional advertising online. Consumers want to feel connected and involved in their favorite brands. We bring journalistic integrity to the clients’ messaging and create a way for customers to immediately connect with them.” As a pilot program, the company has developed a ‘Pet Minute’ package with Carol Anne as the on-air reporter in a ‘fun, fact-filled video’ which could cover a whole host of topics and be sponsored by a petcare company or retailer. “It’s a partnership with the client where the video can live on their website and social media. They bring the built-in audience; we bring the credibility.”
In addition to the experience Gail, Susan and Carol Anne bring to the table, that credibility will come from a roster of talent in television reporting and production as well as public relations working on a freelance basis — many of whom have worked with the women over the course of their careers, including our mutual friend Judy Twersky. Sorry, but Gail was mum on the rest of her team, as many of them “are still clearing” their participation with their current employers.
In addition to potential partnerships with companies, Gail believes there is a tremendous opportunity to work with authors who want to promote their books and personal brands beyond their own website and Facebook page. “An author with a decent book can promote it relatively inexpensively and get play all over the place. We want to work with authors and we know full well they often have to do their own publicity on a limited budget and we’re willing to work with them. A lot of authors are doing their own stuff with their iPhones — we can make them look so much better,” Gail said, explaining that a well-produced interview segment could find its way on to television news programs and websites that might not otherwise hear about the work if left to the more ‘traditional’ public relations campaigns most publishers rely on. Besides, said Gail, when an author works with the company they are also getting media training “virtually for free.” Having spent years in morning television, she explained, “We’re going to work with our authors on how to present themselves on camera in the best possible way.”
I asked the women if their decision to form their own company was a sign that the best opportunities for women in television now are entrepreneurial. “We are all at different stages in our lives and this is fun for us,” said Susan, adding she couldn’t imagine working the grueling hours television news demands. For Carol, who is the mother of young children, the opportunity to work with Gail and Susan offers the best of both worlds. “I have no desire to go back to working the kind of hours I did when I was anchoring. Working this way allows me to enjoy the work and have all the time I want to spend with my family.”
By the time our coffee arrived it was clear to me that these three women had another advantage that was sure to help their new venture succeed. “We all really like each other,” said Gail. “And we have a lot of fun together. It’s not a competition. It just works.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Social swan Somers Farkas and friends
2. Luke Janklow
3. Legendary lensman Patrick McMullan
4. Steve Rattner
5. Jon Ledecky
6. Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman
8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and Barbara Liberman
11. Radio’s grand dame Joan Hamburg with Westwood One’s Kim Bryant just in from California.
12. Jim Smith
14. Ambassador William vanden Heuvel
15. The distinguished Charles Whittingham
16. Tal Keinan
17. Ted Hathaway
18. Amazon’s David Blum
20. Paxton Quigley
21. Joe Stein
22. Tyler Morse
23. Peter Wilson
24. Godfrey Rayner
27. Gail Yancosek, Susan Iger, Carol Anne Riddell and yours truly
29. Sara Beth Shrager
Diane Clehane is a FishbowlNY contributor. Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane. Send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.