Growing up, as a young Iranian-American (or, American-Iranian?), I had few well-known idols to look up to that shared my heritage. But, there was one who I was completely enamored by, and she was the only one I needed: CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. In junior high, I even hand wrote her a letter, that likely never made it her way, letting her know I hoped to be her “when I grew up”.
Following in my idol’s footsteps, I worked at several local cable TV newsrooms throughout high school and college, and soon after graduating landed an exciting position as an “Assignment Desk Editor” at the largest cable news station in my hometown, Baltimore, MD. Welcome to the “Graveyard Shift”.
I came into the office at 10PM and left at 6AM. I was a vampire. But, I loved it. I loved the highly caffeinated people, the energy, the buzzing sounds of the office, the silence as we cut to live takes on air. And, I was told, that my other idol, Oprah Winfrey, once sat not too far away from my small command center in the office as she too started her storied career in Baltimore.
The nights were spent chasing the news. It was a race. Listening to police scanners, checking the wires, calling into the fire departments and hospitals to see if anything notable was happening. Needless to say, working the graveyard shift in Baltimore was always busy in a city that has long struggled with its violence and the stark contrast between the city’s haves and have nots.
But, this was all two decades ago and I clearly did not become the next Christiane Amanpour or Oprah Winfrey. My career led me into marketing, working for global advertising agencies, launching start-ups, and leading marketing at billion dollar publicly traded consumer internet companies. To ultimately where I am now running my own global marketing advisory firm and network.
This brings me to 2019. What I’m most excited about for myself and my clients is bringing back this mentality of the Graveyard Shift. Operating your brand as a newsdesk. Long gone are the days of laminating your media plan with all your TRPs and impressions. Brands need to be operating in real-time and connecting with people’s lives in relevant and newsworthy ways. A brand is what a brand does, and I hope to be able to activate my client’s brands to reach their target in more relevant ways. This year will be about being opportunistic and inventive. Having a strong foundation in what your brand stands for at the outset gives you the permission to execute across any channel with that core value proposition in mind. I can’t wait to see what we do together.
Christiane Amanpour, if you’re reading this, I still love you.