Vanessa Wojtusiak is the Director of Audience Development at WTNH News 8.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I started off working in traditional media (radio) working in the marketing department in the early 2000s. My role at the time was mainly focused on event production and promotions utilizing only radio broadcasting and in-person appearances. With the shift in technology and rise of digital platforms, I knew this was an opportunity to extend reach to listeners where they are spending their time. The audience was migrating to social media and increasing their use of digital media overall rapidly. That opportunity was an untapped new challenge at the time and I wanted to embrace it knowing that it would be the “new normal”. This led me to propel digital and heading up social media strategy at iHeartRadio and now working to move local television forward in my current role. My passion is evolving traditional media with new technology.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
My current role is the Director of Audience Development and since I work in news, the first thing I do is check social media to see which stories are bubbling up for the day while I have breakfast. What is my audience or potential audience talking about today?
I take a look at Twitter, scroll through Facebook and catch up on Instagram posts. I’m subscribed to a few email newsletters as well focused on social media, music, television, and technology. My go-to is also taking a look at CrowdTangle and my custom lists of categories for hot social stories which are then sent to my staff.
I start my workday off physically writing out a to-do list. Yes – with a piece of paper and a pen -along with check-boxes prioritizing what needs to get done and then checking-off completed work throughout the day. This helps me organize and feel accomplished. I’m digital but a traditional check-list is something I don’t want to replace.
My morning news editorial meeting is next which lets me collaborate with news producers and staff on mapping out coverage for the day.
I then work on writing pieces, sharing them and optimizing them strategically using paid social media. Analytics is also a major portion of my job; taking a look at success metrics to reference in order to be creative.
Luckily, I’m a rare balance between being right-brained and left-brained which allows me to be analytical and creative at the same time. It’s important to see how data drives creative decisions and vice-versa. Each day is also different and that’s part of why I love working in media, I never really have a “typical” day!
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE? (YOUR APPS, PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS, ETC.)
My IT manager always yells at me for having two internet browsers and 50 tabs open on each of them with three programs running in the background and wondering why my computer is slow, while also working on an iPad and iPhone at my desk. I’m the queen of multi-tasking! Slack is great and Google docs keep me organized throughout the day. Calendar invites are always a must for me too for any meetings that come up since I’m big into time management. Of course, you can catch me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat throughout the day.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INSPIRED?
Creativity is definitely based on inspiration. There are some days that I have all of these amazing ideas and other days where I’m struggling a bit, which I think is normal. It’s all based on the energy you have and surround yourself with. To clear my mind, I like to do yoga and run to get my blood flowing and focused in my free time. During work, prioritization is important and outlining steps that need to be taken to get to the goal along with asking myself, “what assets do I have or can create to make this better and take it one step further?”. Talking ideas out or collaborating also helps when possible.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
I’m definitely guilty of Instagramming some quotes that have moved me but don’t necessarily have one go-to. Basically, my theme is you’re in charge and in control of the direction of your own life. Don’t wait around for things to happen and do what makes you happy. On social media, I like the inspiration and motivation that Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of Vayner Media, speaks and posts about from a life and business angle.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING/INNOVATIVE THING YOU HAVE SEEN ON ANOTHER OUTLET OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?
AR and VR technology along with immersive technology. That absolutely blows me away and will be the new norm in a few years. This past year, I was able to attend Facebook’s F8 developer conference where I saw a demo on texting through thoughts “brain-computer speech-to-text”, visual recognition/computer learning and some of the technology that Facebook’s “secret research lab” in Building 8 team is working on. This type of innovation really interests me and is a platform I one day hope to be able to create engaging concepts and content on.
WHAT’S THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
Social media and local news. I don’t think there is enough local news coverage presented in a way that is compelling. Many news organizations heavily rely on viral stories or national interest while I want to focus on what’s happening in local communities. I’m hoping that platforms like Facebook and Twitter really keep their promise of elevating this type content through changes in their algorithms, which we are at the mercy of. There’s too much sameness in news and creating a strategy to break out of this cycle is a goal of mine. I want to be forward-thinking and embrace technology as much as possible.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT?
I started off in media when I was only 15-years-old trying to learn as much as possible by asking questions and shadowing people. I still ask a million questions which helps with my thought process and information gathering. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Learn and take in as much information as possible and collaborate with those who are willing to share their thoughts and experiences with you. Be aggressive and don’t ever give up on your dreams. It’s your passion that will move you forward.