Interview with Adam Boland, Director of Social Media and Strategy at Channel Seven

This week for my Interview Series, we have Adam Boland who is currently the Director of Social Media and Strategy at Channel Seven. Adam has been in media  his whole career and he provides some great insight into the TV industry, social media and his career path.

1. You’re currently the Director of Social Media and Strategy at Channel Seven which sounds like a pretty cool role. Can you describe what a typical day’s like?

I basically hang on twitter all day.  I’m joking!

There’s no such thing as a typical day in television, which I think is what many people find attractive about the industry.

It’s a happy merger of being proactive and responsive.  Every morning at 8:30, we all wait anxiously for the previous day’s ratings and then dissect them down to the minute.  What worked and what didn’t?  That’s the responsive bit.  The proactive element is to try to influence the following day’s ratings.  There’s an old saying in television that you’re only as good as your next ratings – so we are truly accountable each and every day.

I spent ten years running shows here at Seven where my day-to-day was very micro.  I would be across every element of those shows from the writing to the promos to the marketing.  You don’t get much sleep and the pressure gets rather intense.

These days, my focus has shifted to the broader media climate and how our shows can exploit that new world.

So, much of my day is spent learning.  I meet people from all over the world about things they’re doing with social media.  Lots of it is experimenting.  We then figure out what works for us.  I hang with producers and directors – mostly in the news and current affairs department – and develop ideas.  I also spend lots of time with the team at Yahoo!7 which is our sister company.  They are very bright people with so many great online ideas.  We’re developing things now which you’ll see come to life over coming months.  The goal of course is to be ahead of the curve.  The reality though is that this sphere moves so fast, it’s a really big challenge and needs companies to move much quicker than in the past.

2. Before working at Channel Seven, you spent some time working as a producer and reporter at several media outlets, what was your career path like? Have you always wanted to work in media industry?

Media has been my entire life – which is rather sad when you think about it.  Always wanted to be a journo.  Went to university in Canberra to study politics and journalism.  At the end of my first year, my lecturer recommended me for a cadet’s gig in Brisbane.  Even though it meant dropping out of uni, I jumped at the chance.  I couldn’t wait to work – and I never regretted it.

That job at 4BC taught me so much.  The senior reporters there were ruthless with me.  It made me tougher, knocked some arrogance from me and gave me the ultimate crash course.

From there, I went to 3AW in Melbourne before making the switch to TV at Sky News in Sydney. I was one of the founding producers there – which was such a thrill.  We essentially got to write the rules for Australia’s first all news station.

After Sky, I joined Ten as a reporter in Cairns until I got sacked for being an idiot.  Long story.  Seven then picked me up in Sydney and the rest is history.

Seven gave me a chance to experiment.  I surrounded myself with some really smart and energetic people and we got to work on shaking up breakfast and then morning television.  Loved every second.

That said, the media can take over all elements of your life.  It took me way too long to figure out the work-life balance and when I had, I realised that my twenties had vanished.  So, be careful!

3. With digital technology and communication platforms evolving at such a rapid pace, where do you see the TV industry headed in the next 5 years?

Television is changing.  No doubt.  But claims that mainstream TV is dead are just so silly.  I think rather than replacing the big boys, new forms of media will work WITH the big boys – making the experience even better for the user.

So, we’re now seeing shows that integrate social media into their formats.  We’re seeing new apps that allow viewers to have conversations while watching their favourite shows with other fans of the show.  Accompanying content and broader integrated conversations are the way forward.  And that’s really cool.

You’re also seeing more options for users – whether they be online or on-air.  So brands are evolving.  Sunrise is a good example.  Sure – our main game is our broadcast time from 6am to 9am but we now have producers who are constantly pumping content out via our website or the apps 24/7.  It’s about ensuring that users get more out of us.  There shouldn’t be a disconnect at 9am.  The conversation simply continues.

4. You’re currently juggling multiple projects on hand; working at Channel Seven, opening up The Ginseng Baths, on the board of the Griffin Theatre Company – how do you manage your time? Do you find yourself planning everything out?

I think everyone needs to look at their schedules – no matter what work they do.  Sorry about getting philosophical, but life is so short.  I like the idea of jamming as much in as possible so I can contribute as much as possible and gain as much as possible.  I also like variety.

I think too many people fall into a default position: get up, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed. Repeat.  I am probably allowed more flexibility than most – but I also insist upon it.  Variety gives your mind much more energy.

5. And lastly, for students out there aspiring to carve a career in the media industry, any tips on how to make it?

Enthusiasm.  No point getting into this industry unless you have passion.  I meet too many people who expect to be fast tracked to fame.  Firstly, most of the fun happens OFF camera.  Secondly, you need to earn your stripes.  Expecting to simply get work at Sydney’s biggest agency or station is unrealistic – and frankly, no fun.  The journey is cool.

Oh, and everyone in the industry should be getting their heads around social media.  I’m not just saying that because of my role.  Engagement is the future.  Actually, engagement is the present.  So, people need to know how to engage.  Not that frightening really and you could just make some new friends!

***To contact Adam say hello in Twitter @adamboland7 or on Google+ ***

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