Building a brand requires special expertise and a deep understanding of the audience. On this episode, we talk with Sharon Feder, Chief Digital Officer for Watch Entertainment, the parent company for the businesses of television personality Rachael Ray.

In her role as CDO, Sharon works across the company's core media, consumer product and philanthropic initiatives to build new digital opportunities and experiences for the brand and its very loyal fan base.

Previous to joining Watch Entertainment, Sharon was the COO of Mashable, a company she joined early on and played a key role developing. She was actively involved in shaping Mashable's community management offering, company culture and client-supported branded content, a program she helped pioneer at Mashable early in her career.

Sharon also held the roles of publisher, managing editor and features editor at Mashable. In 2009 she co-founded and later sold MySocialDog, a hyper-local social network for dog owners. Sharon is currently an advisor to The Muse, Mashable, FitBark and #GivingTuesday.

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Video Transcript: Building a Digital Brand with Sharon Feder, Chief Digital Officer, Rachael Ray

Michael Krigsman:

Welcome to episode number 189 of CXOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman and what an interesting show we have today. We’re talking with Sharon Feder, who is the Chief Digital Officer for Rachael Ray, and Rachael Ray’s business, you can say holding company, Watch Entertainment. And I’m so thrilled because today we have a guest host, or guest hostess, Jessica Gotley. Jessica, let’s start with you, how are you?

Jessica Gotley:

I’m very good, how are you?

Michael Krigsman:

I’m doing great, and thanks so much for joining us today, and of course, Sharon Feder from Rachael Ray, how are you?

Sharon Feder:

I’m doing very well, thanks for having me today.

Michael Krigsman:

Well this is really awesome, Sharon, why not jump in and start telling us about Rachael Ray and Watch Entertainment and what do you guys do.

Sharon Feder:

Sure, so at Rachael Ray I work for our holding company Watch Entertainment, which manages Rachael’s businesses, twelve major businesses across three major media, manufacturer and (01:21 unclear) And those businesses span TV, magazines, books, our amazing music and food event, Feedback, which is heading 10 years in Austin this March. We have our cookware, our now furniture launching this coming month nationally. We have our pantry items, and in addition our pet food, Nutrish. And then we work very hard on things that are near and dear to Rachael’s heart, our philanthropy. So we have a nonprofit called Yum-O, which is focused on eliminating hunger and obesity in children and also funds programming for when those kids grow up, so they can get an education in the culinary arts at the community college level, and also we work hand-in-hand with rescues across the country, to fund rescue efforts for cats and dogs. And that is a mechanism with our pet food where a percentage of Rachael’s proceeds then go to organizations like ASPCA, North Shore Animal League, Best Friends Animal Society etc. And we work really closely with them to make sure the core needs are being met.

So I have been in this role for for three years, and I’ll give you some quick background on me if you’re interested. So I work here with our team and our partners. Partnership is a huge part of the way we do business. We were partners with large corporations like Meredith, who produce our magazine, CBS distribution television for our daytime show for Food Network for example. But we also work with a lot of family owned businesses which are really important to us, like Ainsworth which produces our pet food.

Those partnerships, our true partnerships are true collaboration, we sit on calls with them probably multiple times a week, and Rachael is incredibly involved in that process, creatively and you know I think one of the misconceptions of a brand like ours is that we are celebrity licensing, and that is exactly what we are not. We are all about creating things that add value to our community life , and really work really hard to ensure that that value is there, both innovation and in product, accessibility and price point and authenticity in Rachael’s needs.

So my background is I come from the start up and publishing world. I was one of the early employees at Mashable and I helped build that company over the course of five years and eventually becoming COO before I came here. I’m also a start-up advisor I still advise organizations  like Mashable, Muse, Arc, and philanthropy is incredibly important to me. Over the years at Mashable, I worked with the United Nations foundation, as well as the 92nd Street (ridable?) program like the Social Good Summit as well as (The Muse?) which I still advise.

So those are the kinds of things that are incredibly important to me, and are really interesting because we do so much in this space here at Rachael Ray.

Michael Krigsman:

Wow, Jessica Sharon certainly has a lot that’s going on.

Jessica Gotley:

Her resume fascinates me and we talked about this briefly a little bit earlier is the CDO, the Chief Digital Officer title is doesn’t roll off the tongue like CDO and it means a lot of different things for a lot of different organizations. So when you walk and show the role as CDO how do you even define it and what’s the difference between digital and the rest of the company or is there a difference.

Sharon Feder:

Yeah, I think so much of where we are in the industry and where so many industries are everything touches digital. And there is so much that I work on that it’s not necessarily a digital first business that we think about. You know how can I come in and lend value and think about building our business there or supporting digital, or thinking about the audience differently.

You mentioned the CDO role is maybe different here than in other places. I think the Chief digital role is in a lot of ways transitional. So you know it’s coming into business and thinking about how do we make it digital and whether that’s digital intelligence, you know the transformation in efficiencies in business and you know utilizing digital tools for collaboration, and building out digital businesses whether that’s in publishing or data. There’s so many variations of things that can be accomplished in this world and in the role it you know lends digital.

But I think you know as organizations become more and more optimized and efficient in the digital world and have sort of built it into their DNA this is not necessarily a long term title, though there are pieces of this where we are going to be baked into other people’s titles and that’s hopefully having more and more CEOs, COOs and CMOs as well as  the CIOs of course who sort of like can take responsibility for these kinds of things that need to be core to businesses.

Michael Krigsman:

I’ve heard other people say that the CDO role may be a temporary role, but you mentioned earlier everything touches digital. So in an organization like yours can you define what does that mean, everything touches digital tell us what does that mean in practice.

Sharon Feder:

Yeah, we think about how our brand is perceived, how people connect with it so for example, if I want to buy a set of pots and pans I may go and research it, and what am I going to find when I Google. If I want to find a recipe, unless I’m going out to buy a book which I might buy online, I’m going to go to a website to get it, probably through my mobile device.

You know there’s so many touchpoints for the brand that are digitally focused and we often think about how we connect with those consumers, connect with those audiences. And continue to make their journey with us a really good one and continue to find reasons for them to interact with us as a brand and grow with us.

So for example I think about the expansion of our own brand. You know we started out with Rachael’s cooking shows and her pots and pans and her books. And now we’ve expanded into our furniture collection, Rachael Ray Home. There is maybe a different interaction point when you’re shopping for furniture and when you’re looking for inspiration for your home than when you are looking for a recipe. And so we have to think about you know, continuing to develop our audience, and continuing to answer their questions an addressing customer service you know all in new ways.

and for us you know there’s this other side of our brand that’s incredibly interesting which I mentioned earlier which is Feedback, which is a music and food festival which is Rachael’s passion in Austin every year and we’re approaching our tenth year. So we think about how do we build our brand in a really consistent way. And you know build experiences that are amazing and food and you know your home.

But also when you’re going to a concert and listening to music and what does that mean. So I think I lost track of the initial question.

Jessica Gotley:

Let me ask you this so you’re kind of balancing a whole bunch of different stuff. You have a lot of masters to feed here and when I look at Rachael I’m like I just have to admit I’m like a complete fangirl. So I’m not even going to pretend like I’m not. You have these cookbooks that so many of us thought that just normalized dinners instead of making them either something that came from a can or you know there’s usually something with a child and like you know swilling wine and like chopping onions on TV. So all of a sudden there’s a cookbook by someone like me for someone like me and that’s a very very old media.

Fast forward a bunch of years. Now we are launching a furniture company where digital is going to be part of the very beginning of it. so how do you take your day to day work and go okay, I’m going to take the furniture company and view it with digital from the very beginning, and meanwhile kind of drag these books into the digital realm with us to and how do we transfer this. Like how many generations are you dealing with like companies of people?

Sharon Feder:

I think that’s a really incredible thing that there’s such a variety of stories to tell and points of interaction. You know one of the things that I think is so fun is that you know when Rachael puts her heart into a book we have various ways of telling a story. Well this is her journey in Italy. You know this is her favorite recipe and we can ensure that in some ways online to drive (unclear 11:17), and her fan base become so excited about being able to interact with that.

You know I think as we think about furniture it’s really interesting. We’re about to relaunch some of our digital assets, our websites and we are thinking about furniture. Furniture is a really big part of that of how do we visually tell the story of furniture and how do we connect people to what it means to her. And because she’s a person, and because she is designed this and there are these very personal stories

One of the things that we did in sort of anticipation of that is think about what are the things that we can do that are accessible to people, you note that our audiences can come along on this journey with us. Because they have been with us in buying the book, in watching the video, and tuning into our daytime show, buying the magazines. And we want them to continue on this journey because they are the core of what we do.

So we actually had a townhouse designed with her new lines, and we created a 3-D model of it, so that our community could go explore with us. And that’s actually something that we are going to be launching in a few weeks that we’re really excited about. Because it literally allows you to see and interact with the pieces, but it doesn’t require you to have a VR headset. You know, it doesn’t require you to own an Oculus. So these are the kinds of things we think about, you know, we don’t want to leave these older pieces of our brand necessarily behind, because they are still a huge part of who we are.

And I would add that you know I think one of the things I still love is I still love having my books at home. I still love being able to show off the brand that I’m really passionate about in a physical way, and I can see that you know is a very large part of our community to feel the same way.

Michael Krigsman:

You spoke about stories and telling the story and brining the audience with you. how do you tell a story that is compelling in this way as you’re describing. I mean you guys are the consonant storytellers.

Sharon Feder:

Yeah you know I think that one of the of these things. That’s really wonderful is that we are not making this stuff up. It’s originating from a real-life person, and you know we have collected over many years of the stories that continue to be a part of our storytelling. But we are adding to it based on you know new things that are happening in her world, new creative journeys. You know, in storytelling I think one of the things that is really exciting is you know I said I had some things for show and tell, we have our magazines and we can tell the stories here utilizing paper, and that’s really enjoyable experience.

But then we also have something new like Facebook Live. And you know, we think about how do we engage our audiences and tell them stories, and then invite them into our home utilizing this new really really shiny thing. And so one of the examples that I love is what our daytime show is doing. We have two of our show co’s Grant and Jeanette are filming Facebook Live multiple times a week, where they are telling stories in working with Rachel. Telling stories of you know, their personal favorite recipes, and they are cooking live for this audience.

And again, like I said, bringing them along on the journey and engaging them, and asking them to participate, whether by asking them to help pick out the recipes or asking them for their feedback as you are cooking. As to say it like you know, I think one of my favorite examples was you know we’re baking a pie, blueberries or raspberries. It was such a simple question but people were really passionate and they wanted their voices heard. So you know, those viewers were able to participate with our brand as a whole by participating in that Facebook Live show.

Michael Krigsman:

Jessica any questions.

Jessica Gotley:

So many questions.

Michael Krigsman:

She’s like taking notes and tweeting, okay.

Jessica Gotley:

I do a little tweeting because I can’t believe I’m in on this discussion. Facebook live is so interesting and so new, so you have the distinct advantage of being Rachael Ray.

Sharon Feder:

Yeah I was going to say I’m not quite there.

Michael Krigsman:

So you work closely together but there’s still this separation you’re not Rachael Ray.

Jessica Gotley:

Totally fast friends, so how does a company without or a startup even as you advise startups, you use these same tools. We all have essentially the same tool kit right. she probably has more text support and the name recognition, but what do you do if you don’t have the name recognition? How do we recreate this is our own companies.

Sharon Feder:

So I think with regard to the new shiny things. I think one of the things that’s really exciting about the new shiny things is that many of them are really accessible. Facebook Live you can get on right now and start recording. It’s really about experimenting to figure out you know, how does this work for you. Because you may try to replicate Grant and Jeanette, but you might not have any cooking skills, and you might not get very far. So there are a number of ways to do this.

I think there is seeing the best practices in the industry. This is what we do, and this is what our partners do, and what many of the companies that I speak with regularly do. It’s finally not just the fact that there is this feature launch or product launch, but who’s doing it right and what are they doing that makes it right. And how can you adapt that, and learn from that in your own offering.

So you know, one of the things that I was just watching and I was just fascinated by John Steinberg’s New Last Shutter and they have set up shop I believe in Flatiron where they are recording these Facebook Lives, and they have street performers performing, and they have CEOs coming in for interviews and it looks like a very very established set up. And looking at that you know your sort of looking at, well why is this working, what is interesting about it and similarly, if you look at our own set up, what’s interesting about it and there’s certain things that work.

So at a base level, as a viewer, what’s interesting to me? Well, the lighting works, the sound works, and it’s funny because Michael knows this because we do multiple times a week. You know, there’s lighting, there’s sound, there’s video quality. You know, getting those basics, right.

But then there’s the program. So what am I actually going to do on this Facebook Live that’s going to make people not want to turn off? You know, and that’s like you just can’t bore people can this is like anything in business, you have to give them something of value that will be interesting. And I think that it’s like figuring out what you as a start-up or a brand do that can engage and can add value, versus than just doing it for the sake of doing it.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t mess up. Of course you can mess up and you can experiment. But I think you want to be thoughtful, because as a business or as a start-up. No matter how many people work at a company, you only have so much time. You can only develop so much resources. And so really worth trying and putting in the time to figuring out you know what is it you did really well and how to execute on it in a way that sort of meets the acceptable standard for the industry.

Michael Krigsman:

You hit what I thought was a very important point which is yes, you can’t bore your audience. You have to make sure that all the technical stuff is all in place and working right. But you also have to know what are you trying to achieve, so you’re not just doing this for the sake of effect, but you’re doing something that actually adds to the audience experience.

Sharon Feder:

I think you know if we are to look at Facebook Live as an example, but if you take a look at Instagram Story, I think this is the perfect example. Like Snapchat has been around for a while, and brands have experimented. But there has been a lot brands that has held back from Snapchat for any variety of reasons. One of which is that they already have so many social networks to populate. There’s only so much they can do. And so to have Instagram Stories pop-up, and that’s a whole other conversation. But to have Instagram Stories pop-up in a place where they have already devoted the time and resources where they already have a following became such an opportunity, and continues to be an opportunity

So interestingly, we now see the Snapchat like environment and brands starting to experiment, because it really is still pretty early and so now I’m looking at what is Wholefoods doing, what is Food 52 doing. You know, what are all these brands doing, and what is this going to become. Because you know what I think we see now is not necessarily what we are going to continue to see over the coming months. I think we are going to start to see some really interesting, creative things, and we are going to start to see some innovation there.

And I think this is the time when brands and start-ups can jump in and really figure things out. And better to do this now than maybe later when there’s so many brands doing it that it’s harder to get noticed.

Jessica Gotley:

So you came from Mashable which I would argue is a very leading edge company or was, certainly at the time you were there

Sharon Feder:

And they’re doing some very cool things right now.

Jessica Gotley:

Okay I’m not as current on it as I was then and I don’t know, maybe I just have a short attention span. But Rachael Ray is more thought leader and cutting edge as opposed to you know first in. and so is there a sense that you have to pull back and behave like a brand than a startup at the same time you’re launching the company. like is there a push and pull for you there on a personal level.

Sharon Feder:

There’s a mix. You know I think there’s a lot more calculated decisions about where we start early. So I think the example I gave earlier about Snapchat, at Mashable, Mashable was very early to Snapchat you know, they have clearly quite a resource there. For us, strategically, it just doesn’t make the same kind of sense for us to put the investment in you know a network that is so so young, when we have really so much strategically that we currently have to build on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest etc. and I love Snapchat and our team love Snapchat.

But we look at Snapchat differently, which is to say you know, there is a time and a place currently in our portfolio and with regards to the work that I do for Snapchat. So we have our music and food event Feedback, we make Snapchat  filter, because it makes total sense that we have you know young millennial’s at our events, who are avid Snapchat users utilizing that.

But we sort of say, okay, well the rest of the year, it doesn’t make as much sense for us to try to be as innovative there, because we’ll really working to do that in other areas where our community and the communities that we want to attract currently live. And so examples of that is food videos. Well, we live in a food vertical, and partners do incredible work there. Some of the stuff that I am really proud of what our brand is doing is our daytime show team is producing some really cool video in this space that is Rachael Ray’s show Facebook page. They also do some great work on Instagram, and you know a lot of that is they are experimenting with stop motion and I think it’s so cool and really fun. That’s what our audience wants. They want to not just learning new things, but we want to have fun and they want entertained.

Some other stuff I think you know is really again really cool, and really fun, but again very strategic for our brand is that our partners and our brand Nutrish have done this incredible, hysterical video series of Buzby. And it has been so fun to watch this series evolve, because it’s on YouTube and you have these people who don’t love cats, it’s the first episode, living with cats for a week.

And I watched it, and I thought this is really really funny, and I love that kind of storytelling that our brand is doing, because it really ties strongly to the things we feel so strongly about. You know, we do love cats, we love pet owners and we are part of that community. But this video series also has parts of animal rescue, and animal adoption, and that is a huge part in what we believe in. So you know, these are the kinds of things that we’ve been experimenting with and you can tell again, you know, we’re not doing the I’m jumping first to the new technology and I want to try it for the sake of trying it. But we are doing a lot of new stuff that’s really cool, and that I think our team is proud of and our community is really enjoying.

Michael Krigsman:

So this…please Jessica go ahead.

Jessica Gotley:

How do you just make the decision that you’re going to partner with ? as opposed to you know any of the other places, and how do those partnerships evolve

Sharon Feder:

Yes so I think you know we work with Ainsworth and the team over there and they have a fantastic agency partner (Maxie?) and together they do incredible work. So you know I think these decisions are largely researched and calculated and really understand not just what’s happening in the industry but also sort of how we target the audiences we want to be in front of so ultimately get results for the business.

Jessica Gotley:

Do you do all of your measurement in-house to kind of subscribe to a million different things that you know is measuring what does and doesn’t work, because that’s the magic right.

Sharon Feder:

You know, I think it really varies from business to business and I think especially because we are in different industries. It really varies from industry to industry. So what we have is some of our partners subscribing to similar research, but you know, the amount of research that they subscribe to is a lot. And it’s amazing and it’s fascinating. I think one of the things that is so interesting about this brand is that we do live in these different industries, and overall are experiencing you know, much like every other business in this period of time where there is so much innovation, there’s so much happening. And you know, the social media landscape, the web landscape, the digital landscape, whatever we want to call it is constantly evolving.

And so looking at all those things and how we as a business continue to build, to grow, and evolve, and do things that add value to the lives of our consumers and audience.

Michael Krigsman:

I want to remind everybody that you are watching episode number 189.

Sharon Feder:

You’ve been busy.

Michael Krigsman:

I’ve been really busy. I’m like busy all the time. This is like I am really busy, but so are you guys. But I want to remind everybody that you’re watching episode number 189 of CXOTalk. And we’re speaking with Sharon Feder, who is the Chief Digital Officer for Rachel Ray. And my guest co-host today is Jessica Gotley. And so Sharon, I know that partnerships are very important to you and the work that you do, and so can you tell us about those partnerships, and how do you use partnerships to amplify and extend your own brand building efforts.

Sharon Feder:

So I promise I wasn’t getting distracted, I was just looking at Tweets. So partnership, you know, we have incredible partnerships that allow us to build these businesses together and to take a step back. You know I’m a big believer in partnership whether it’s business development and the conflict of doing one-off programs that add value to your community, or if it’s a longer term endeavor and at National I did this by creating a syndication relationships, and working with other publishers.

And here it’s been a variety of different tasks. So it’s our business partners who we run businesses with, but also you know trying and testing different kinds of relationships. You know, across all of my experience and one of the things that I really enjoyed is sort of learning about what makes a successful partnership. And you know, here we have spent so much time sort of thinking through the businesses we want to be in. Really thinking through for example, furniture, Rachel has wanted to be in furniture for a long time. She loves designing. And you know, we didn’t just go to market and say, okay, we are doing this tomorrow, and we spent, and this is what furniture is going to look like.

So you know I think our approach to partnership is really strategic, calculated, and thinking through you know, what do we want this to look like and who are the players in this space. And largely you know thinking very proactively, about what it is we want to to build and understand before we get to the point of and listening to our partner in this. And you know, in all of my experiences I think the thing with both short-term and long-term partnership is really understanding the value that everybody brings to the table. Really sort of over, communicating and thinking through this, you know, how do you make this what we wanted to be.

And it’s been really nice. You know, my partners and businesses are co-workers in effectively, and we have created things that I think are really really incredible together. So you know I think for us it’s a very specific thing that we’ve done. Wondering where you would like me to go with this Michael.

Michael Krigsman:

Well I think there’s a number of different places. You mentioned that the partnerships are really colleagues and they’re friends, they’re co-workers, and how do you decide where and with which partners are you going to invest this time and these resources.

Sharon Feder:

Well I think things specifically it really varies from partner to partner. So for example, it may be the case that we are devoting a greater percentage of our time to new business, to make sure it’s accepted, so for example my team is heavily focused on Rachel Ray Homeware right now. And it’s been really fun because our team is very focused on digital but it’s gotten to learn all about this new industry. And have spent time in photo shoots thinking about not just how we get things like social media assets, but how we help to sort of learning some of that social DNA and digital DNA into the architecture of things that are going to exist in print.

So you know, how do we take our lifestyle shots and our photography, and ensure that everything is effectively digitally friendly, and really sort of educated across-the-board so that our partners feel honored and confident. You know in their ability to continue to build the business digitally as well.

And I think you know, across our business and also like other businesses there are some areas of our brand that has incredible digital talent, you know who are really doing amazing work in this space. So you know, for example, our pet food brand has people in their team who runs these incredible campaigns and our influences in the advocacy space. And you know, while we wish we could put more time in there, they don’t really need us. And you know it’s fun to be able to collaborate when we can, but they certainly have a good deal of expertise and are really doing cool work.

Jessica Gotley:

When you set up the digital teams, or when you walk in when there are digital teams that are kind of set up for you, is there like a Bible that is created about you know, here’s the message, here’s the tone, here’s what you can do and say on your own personal timelines.

Sharon Feder:

I think that is something that is really getting created over time, and you know 4+ that level of consistency is really important. I think that one of the things that what we talked about earlier was you know what does branding look like here, and with so many different brands, what does it mean to have these variations in brand? And I think it’s really interesting, because whether our physical product or digital sphere you know, there is one Rachel Ray, and there is one brand and there is consistency. But, each of our businesses has its own personality and they are in variation. And so what is important to us is that this consistency when we think about the larger brand image, and things that are incredibly important to us. But, each of our businesses shines with variations on that brand.

Michael Krigsman:

So it’s very focused on the specific brand. We have about 10 minutes or so left, and getting back to a point that was brought up earlier, what advice do you have to companies who are younger companies that are trying to build their brand, but they don’t have the benefits of major TV personality behind them. How do you build a brand, and I guess what are the elements of building that brand?

Sharon Feder:

I think so much of it starts with what short value proposition. You know, I think that at the end of the day business has to have a service or a good that is important to solving a person’s problem. And I think it’s about identifying what is that differentiator, what is the value that you are providing. Ultimately, who is your target audience that you are targeting.

And I think one of the challenges that I often see that start-ups are faced with is, well, who is my audience, let’s go light as possible. And I think that that possibly a very big mistake, because especially as you start out one of the opportunities and benefits, especially if you are targeting audiences digitally, especially on social, is to sort of figure things out by talking directly to audiences. And based on that early group of people, sort of figuring out what the next step is.

And I think that’s so cool to be able to say like we’re going to try this thing, we’re going to target this audience, we are going to see what they think of us and then we are going to build upon that, and I think that can be incremental.

But it’s really cool because I look at example at Facebook, where I’m targeted by all these start-ups and I have a home. And I look at what I’m being targeted for and my home, and I think it’s really interesting. Because a few years ago you know, we didn’t have these start-ups that were focused on providing you with your (mattress? 36:31), like your Casper or many of the other competitors that there are in the space, and clearly they have grown significantly. But it’s really fun to see them you know succeeding by figuring out who their audience is, what be message is, and how they market and tell their story. And there’s been a couple of campaigns that specifically I’ve seen them do that have been so interesting, that you see the reporting on them. You see people talking about it, because this sort of figured things out over time.

And so for many start-ups, I think it’s really important to know that you’re not going to hit it out of the park you know in the first 30 days. You know, it sort of takes time to figure out like, who is the audience, what do they want and then how do we build upon that audience. And ultimately, it drives itself.

Jessica Gotley:

You’re talking about. Like when you’re talking about Casper, and every start-up that I hear from, is the Uber for whatever, it’s the Uber for car wash off or dog grooming or whatever. But you know, not every business wants to be disruptive and so how do we take what we know and continue building on it. Does the CDO role kind of compliment marketing or operations or where would that fit?

Sharon Feder:

I think a little of both, and I think it really depends on the organisation itself. And you know I don’t think that digital for start-ups need CDOs, but yes, you’re right. Not everyone needs to be transformational. You know, I think that the CDO role can go in different ways. I think it largely depends on the organisation. For example, here we talk about tools about collaboration. We’ve talked about the cloud, we talked about you know how we create efficiencies in the work that we do, but we’ve also talked about influencer marketing, and you know how we reach more people on our storytelling, and what that storytelling looks like and how I was style is consistent. You know, I think largely because of the kind of brand I’m in I get to do both of those things, but not everybody is a lifestyle brand.

Jessica Gotley:

Okay, you know what, here’s what’s interesting. The Social Good Conference was your baby right

Sharon Feder:

My husband, my baby.

Jessica Gotley:

It’s your husbands and you can take credit for it. Don’t worry. He said it’s cool, but that’s under your time in 10 years. See how that and you also have Rachel Ray, which immediately, as soon as I told my friends that I was going to be cohosting this, their question was how do I get under the umbrella, how do I get into Yum-o! How does my dog rescue benefit from this. And everybody knows and it’s really interesting that you have two companies that you’ve been part of that have this altruistic scent to them, and we know that millennials really like cos marketing, but we also have more of cos marketing gone bad from good because it can be profoundly offensive when when it’s done wrong and it can be a thing of beauty when it’s done right and empowering and benefitting everyone on every side. So can you talk a little bit about how we step into this space without stepping on it?

Sharon Feder:

I think it’s really important and you hit on something that is really crucial, which is you have a younger audiences of millennial’s who make decisions based on where corporations spend their money, non-technically, and not that that should be the one signal that drives a Corporation to deploy it. But it’s really important. It’s important for the future of their businesses.

And so I think there is a very clear distinction here, and you pointed it out very well which is there are the organizations that do good because it’s marketing and it feels and they all need to do it. And then there is organizations and maybe they really care, but the execution is not spot on. And then there is organizations that cared deeply, and there is authenticity in what they do, and they have deep roots. And they make sure to plant deep roots so that there is future giving and future impact.

And I think that’s really important. I think the authenticity here is incredibly important, and for us it’s a huge part of what we do. We are really talking you know with these organizations, making sure that nationally that we are creating a footprint that matches the people who are buying our products, reading our magazines, and watching our TV shows. And having impact on their communities, and thinking them not to stop, and what are the causes we are affecting, how is that happening. You know, there is a lot of thought and planning that goes into those.

And I think more organizations really do need to think through what is the thing I can do here, why is it important that I do this, and what is the impact I’m going to have. I see this so much, and one of the things that I love is organizations that not only make commitment in their local communities, but really empower their workforces to participate. And it’s something we see Giving Tuesday, which is can these organizations make their employees feel part of this.

Jessica Gotley:

What is Giving Tuesday.

Sharon Feder:

Let’s take a step back. So Giving Tuesday is an incredible day, it started by ( Henry ? Who was the head of 42:51) New York. And he was a British guy who lived in the US obviously. And if you look at you know you have Thanksgiving and then you have Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday kind of have it figured out right. Like all of these retailers have come together despite the competition, and they are you know making bank. There’s more to that story, but they are making bank, so leave it there.

But anyhow they figured out about the structure right, and that’s the important part. And we call you know the holidays the giving season, which is for the most part true, but there is no structure there. So what Henry and the team at 92nd Street, and the UN foundation and many others set up to do was can we create the structure that not only empowers people and makes them feel part of their community and allows them to give back. But also helps nonprofit who you know, especially when this was the standard a few years ago it was struggling to figure out. You know how do they continue to grow in a digital era, and how they communicate with their public.

And so, what they set out to do was empower both. And what we did was we set up local events, and we have set out. You know webinars online and meetups to gather together and organizers and it became a grassroots effort. It started out in the US and it is now global. And what we were able to show is year over year we were creating a very significant increase in giving, which again has a really nice impact in the community.

So as part of this what you had was organizations, big and small stepping up and making commitment. And that commitment didn’t end on Giving Tuesday, which is again the Tuesday after Thanksgiving; it continued throughout the month. And so it began the opening day to the giving season. And so this is again, this November, November/December maybe and the Tuesday after Thanksgiving 2060 it’s happening. And you know what it represent is an opportunity for those nonprofit corporations. You know, cities get involved and really families and people to say, here’s the commitment I’m going to make and not only ally going to make it an going to talk about. There’s this reality that you know when we think about philanthropy, I think about maybe older wealthy people who give away lots of money and have lots of money to give. And I think what we are doing here is we’re opening up the conversation to say, well no, you can be philanthropic. You can give whatever you can, and maybe that’s not money. Maybe that’s volunteering or maybe that’s just helping somebody. But let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about online. Let’s talk about it on social to encourage other people to replicate this behaviour as well.

Michael Krigsman:

Okay, and with that we are about out of time for this episode of CXOTalk, and what a fascinating conversation. We’ve been talking with Sharon Feder, who is the Chief Digital Officer at Rachel Ray. And my guest co-host today has been Jessica Gotley. So Sharon and Jessica, thank you both so much for participating on CXOTalk

Sharon Feder /Jessica Gotley

Thank you

Michael Krigsman:

And we didn’t talk too much about puppies but a little bit.

Sharon Feder

Oh yeah, I missed that one. I guess I will you one, I’ll share a picture.

Michael Krigsman:

All right, so puppies are coming, and you have been watching episode number 189 of CXOTalk. Thank you so much. This Friday we will be talking with the CIO of COOP Italia which is the largest supermarket chain in Italy and we’ll be talking about digital transformation. Thank you ever so much everybody and have a great day and bye bye.