4 min read

TRT’s Digital Director On Innovating Within Large Broadcasters

On the season finale of Season 3 of The Rough Cut, Storyhunter co-founder Alex Ragir traveled to Istanbul to meet with Riyaad Minty…
TRT’s Digital Director On Innovating Within Large Broadcasters

On the season finale of Season 3 of The Rough Cut, Storyhunter co-founder Alex Ragir traveled to Istanbul to meet with Riyaad Minty, director of digital for Turkish Radio & Television, or TRT, Turkey’s largest media company and one of the largest public broadcasters in the world. TRT runs 17 radio channels and 13 cable channels in 41 languages, including the English and Arabic news channels for TRT World. Minty is tasked with developing a digital strategy for the conglomerate, sort of building a start-up style team within the broadcaster. Before joining TRT, he was part of the founding team for the launch of AJ+; the digital video venture spun off by Al Jazeera Media Network, where he led engagement strategy.

Alex and Riyaad discuss how Riyaad has essentially become a serial “intrapreneur”, or someone who acts like an entrepreneur within large companies, leading their innovation departments and implementing entrepreneurial methodologies and practices that drive innovation. They also discuss the building blocks behind the founding of AJ+, the importance of diversity in storytelling, how TRT uses Storyhunter, and the challenges of being a millennial managing teams of millennials.

On the go? Listen to the interview on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and anywhere else you listen to your shows.

Below are edited highlights of the conversation:

Companies Need to Have a Sense of “Intrapreneurship”

“I think the digital space is really about trying to start up new projects. If you try and take an older, existing brand and remodel it, you’re going to fail. I think most companies these days need to have a sense of intrapreneurship that’s really going to push the boundaries and probably get told no more times than you’re told yes. But you keep on pushing. Keep on making mistakes.”

“Fail Early, Fail Fast”

“I try to keep an open-door policy. I’m always responsive to people who have good ideas. If they come to me with an idea and with a way that they can execute that idea, I want to see what it looks like and evaluate it. My motto is ‘Fail early, fail fast’. I feel like if we’re not making mistakes, we’re not growing and we’re not moving fast enough. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not going to learn.”

Have Your Different Brands Interact on Social Media

“I’ve been focusing on restructuring the organization to be more digitally centric. So we’re able to share resources a lot more. We’re able to interplay across all of our brands. On Twitter or Instagram, you’ll see our different channels interacting with each other, so it gives the overall mother-brand a lot more personality.”

Consumers Crave Immediate Content

“One of our channels would post ‘At 7 pm today tune in to watch this’, and it posted to Facebook and Instagram. Who ever sees a post on Instagram or Facebook and switches to the TV channel to tune in at 7 pm? People see that post and want to be able to click to click it and watch immediately. And then too, with the algorithms, it’s likely it won’t show up in someone’s feed until a day later, so they’ll have missed it. So it’s not about driving audiences there, it’s about the overall brand experience.”

Respect And Understand Your Brand

“It all starts with respect. You have to respect the organization and the people who have been there and built it into what it is today. We wouldn’t be given this opportunity if it weren’t for them. Respect the brand. Respect the people that are there. Respect the work that they have done. And then start the process from there. You understand the thinking behind the brand, understand the target audience and see how whatever you’re doing can benefit the brand, channel or the show. It’s not about your individual project. It’s not about the digital team. It’s about what makes sense for the company.”

Your Audience Is Part Of Your Brand’s Evolution

“The audience also goes on a journey with you. They engage with this process because they see the evolution of the brand. They see this move into digital, and they buy in because they feel a part of the process, instead of like with a traditional broadcast where they’re sitting on the outside watching everything unfold.”

Create Content For Your Audience, Not Yourself

“We spend a lot of time going to that exact core target of whom we want to get to, and what is the psychographic profile of the kind of person who would want to consume content from that brand. The biggest mistake that any media company makes is that we tend to produce content for ourselves and what we would consume. If you work in the industry, you’re expectations are much higher and you forget about what the actual audience wants. You have to be willing to break that down and set your own personal feelings aside and focus on the audience’s interests.”

Previous episodes of The Rough Cut:

Season Three:

Stacey Grier, Chief Marketing Officer, The Clorox Company

Alan Schulman, Chief Creative Officer, Deloitte Digital

Jeffrey Wisenbaugh, Head of Content, Instagram (Part 2)

Jeffrey Wisenbaugh, Head of Content, Instagram (Part 1)

Kate Whitney, Director of Digital, Pernod Ricard

Charlie Chappell, Head of Integrated Media, The Hershey Company

Season Two:

David Weinstock, Chief Creative Officer, RF|Binder

Bonin Bough, Founder & CEO, Bonin Ventures

Mary Kate McGrath, Chief Content Officer, Gallery Media Group

Barri Rafferty, President & CEO, Ketchum

Stacy Minero, Global Head of Content Creation, Twitter

Ari Halper, Chief Creative Officer, FCB New York

Mickey Meyer, President of Network, Group Nine Media

Season One:

Courtney Coupe, VP of Content, Great Big Story

Stone Roberts, VP of Global Video Strategy, Refinery29

Jason Beauregard, Head of Studio, VaynerMedia

Zahra Rasool, Editorial Lead, Contrast VR

Warren Cohen, Head of Video, New York Post

Greg Gilderman, Global Head of Video and Editor-in-Chief, Weather Channel

Jamie Bolding, Founder and CEO, Jungle Creations

Craig Duff, Video Journalism Professor, Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism


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By Jake Watkins, Content Marketing Manager