TVW Nominated for Economic Courage Award
July 23, 2021 update: The Thurston EDC awarded Economic Courage Awards at the Hootenanny on Thursday, July 22. Learn more here: https://thurstonedc.com/hootenanny/.
*Photo Courtesy TVW
At the Thurston EDC, we define ‘Economic Courage’ as a leader, a business, nonprofit or organization that, while facing economic uncertainty and a radical retraction of “business as usual,” took extraordinary steps to provide a service, a product, and or a support service that made a positive impact to the community and or employees of their organization.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, TWV
showed Economic Courage, and they have been nominated for an Economic Courage Award! You can nominate a business that has shown Economic Courage here:
We asked Renee Radcliff Sinclair, TVW President, to answer some questions about the past year and how TWV took extraordinary steps to positively impact our community. Her answers are below.
Thurston EDC: What was your biggest challenge this year, and how did you solve it?
TVW: TVW’s biggest challenge in 2020-21 all revolved around engineering and IT. The work we normally do in bringing the work of state government to the people of our state is a very hands-on, in-person activity. We created new engineering and IT workflows and pathways to accommodate remotely managing our own produced shows and figuring out how to cover the Governor’s many press conferences related to COVID-19 (while serving as the pool feed to the rest of the state’s traditional media outlets). In hindsight, this work prepared us for the all-remote legislative session of 2021. There was quite a bit of expense related to equipment needs and the need to upgrade our broadband capacity to manage the increased volume of viewership associated with this and not covered under TVW’s service contract with the state (in a good year, payments from the state only cover about 15 percent of our annual budget) so we really had to get creative in our private fund-raising activities.
Thurston EDC: What was the biggest change in your business?
TVW: So many! But the one we’ve all noticed and discussed at length is increased awareness about who TVW is and what we do. Our viewership by television, web-streaming and social media have all increased dramatically in the last 15 months. At the same time, our production value has remained high (although different), and our ability to provide quality programming to stations around the state (and the world) has increased our reputation as a trusted partner to traditional media outlets, including the ability to produce a COVID-19 mindful and safe gubernatorial debate in 2020 that aired live on every mainstream television station in the state as well as numerous radio outlets.
Thurston EDC: Will these changes be permanent or will things go back to the way they were before?
TVW: There are many things that will remain as we move past the pandemic. The engineering and IT workarounds we developed to manage remote and hybrid (host in-studio, guest remote) interviews that ultimately led to our ability to cover an entirely remote legislative session will stay with us. The Legislature’s commitment to allow remote testimony from around the state is likely here to stay and TVW’s work to ensure we thoughtfully present that work to the citizens of Washington will serve us well into the future. TVW’s work was considered “essential” during the height of the pandemic, so we’ve always had some people on site, but we learned that some of what we do could be accomplished remotely. We have some staff choosing to adopt a hybrid working model, which seems to be working quite well while allowing for greater attention to work-life balance.
Thurston EDC: What have you learned during the past year as it relates to your business?
TVW: There is really nothing we can’t do! Our team is incredibly resourceful and technologically savvy. As it relates to broadcast television, over-the-top streaming services, web-streaming, and more, our team can figure it out — and continue winning regional Emmy(R) awards along the way!
Thurston EDC: Please share a story or words of wisdom from your experience over the last year.
TVW: TVW had a fairly robust business continuity/disaster recovery plan in place prior to the pandemic, which helped us get through the last 15 months. Although it was primarily focused on natural disasters like earthquakes or floods, many pieces of that plan were transferrable to a health care crisis. I am grateful for that early planning and testing. I also learned that if I just turn my very creative team lose to “figure it out,”…they will!
If I have just one story (but I have a million!), it would be this: Because we had staff in the studio throughout the pandemic, we worked diligently to consistently wear masks and sanitize workstations with rigor. We adopted company-wide standards very quickly and then adhered to them carefully. Through all of that — including a gubernatorial debate that brought many people into our studio that we required to adhere to our standards — we managed to keep our entire team healthy. Then, on January 6, as rioters were storming the gates to the Governor’s Mansion, one of TVW’s on-air reporters was assaulted right in front of our studio simply because he was wearing a press pass. It just really made me realize that you can do a lot of things right, and harsh, ugly stuff is still going to happen. And you take it in stride. Work through it as a team, and continue moving forward. There are some things you just can’t anticipate, but if you’ve done the early work with your team, you can manage through those things, too.