Defining Moments

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Jennifer Boardman, PR ’93

Jennifer Boardman
Jennifer Boardman

Jennifer Boardman (PR ‘93) loved news and, upon graduation, headed to Atlanta to work for CNN. After a few years, she struggled with what she really wanted to do in her career – news or marketing.

At that time, news marketing was pretty traditional – running on-air promos to build awareness for CNN’s programming. Jennifer’s defining moment came when a new CMO joined CNN with a very different vision for how you approach marketing a news product. His vision and mentorship changed the course of her career.

Scot Safon was an experienced TV marketing executive before joining CNN and was one of the first executives to successfully market CNN as something to watch for more than breaking news. He wanted CNN to build a relationship with consumers outside of the big news stories – and acknowledged that CNN didn’t always need to be so serious in its marketing approach.

“Scot opened my eyes to a whole other world that was out there,” Jennifer said. “He taught me pretty much everything I know about marketing, branding and the importance of building a relationship with consumers. He used to say ‘branding is what you want to be famous for,’ and marketing is about getting people to ‘love your brand.’”

In 2008, Jennifer worked with New York agency Civic to create the CNN Grill, a destination spot at the Democrat National Convention in Denver that featured programming from all of CNN’s networks and platforms, hamburgers from NY restraunteur Danny Meyer, CNN “Brew” and events with advertising sales clients, affiliates, delegates and other business partners. Caroline Kennedy was the keynote speaker on the opening night of the DNC and, after her speech, the whole Kennedy – Shriver clan came into the Grill for burgers. (Another defining moment.) It became the place to be at the DNC, with The New York Times calling it, “The toughest table in the hemisphere.” When the DNC was over, CNN turned around and built another Grill in St. Paul the following week for the RNC.

“We wanted to be creative in our approach and at the same time serve a lot of different parts of the business. I could have allocated a chunk of the marketing budget to traditional newspaper and billboard advertising in Denver and St. Paul like most of the other news organizations there, CNN Ad Sales could have gone out and booked restaurants for their events, CNN Programming could have spent money, renting space to set up the news operations and build a set,” Boardman said. “Instead we pooled all of our resources and built something really special and unexpected from CNN. The Grills enhanced our programming for consumers at home, gave us a unique space for entertaining clients and other VIP’s, and so much more. You saw the impact immediately. Plus, for CNN Marketing, it really opened our eyes to the types of things we could be doing. We didn’t need to take ourselves to seriously all the time. It was okay for our brand to have some fun.”

Which led here to where she is today. After a nearly three-year stint at NBC News, where she rebuilt their marketing team, Jennifer joined the CNN Grill agency, Ryan Seacrest’s Civic Entertainment Group, a renowned marketing and promotions agency based in New York, with special practice areas in experiential marketing, strategic marketing partnerships and cause marketing programs. Her clients include HBO, Cinemax, CNN, USA, Turner, Spike, Bravo, E!, and Planet Fitness.

Posted: November 9, 2015
Category: Alumni News
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