Career Lessons from Rich Homberg of Detroit Public Television


Last week I had the pleasure of touring the Detroit Public Television studio as a part of the Detroit Economic Club (DEC) Young Leaders Series. This was the first DEC Young Leaders meeting I’ve been able to attend since becoming a member, and I had a wonderful time exploring the different TV sets and hearing Rich Homberg, DPTV’s president & CEO speak.

Homberg’s background is varied, and ranges from experience with radio to TV and much more, but he had a lot of insightful marketing-related lessons that were very exciting to a PR pro like myself.

dptv1Here are a few quotable remarks from Homberg:

  • “Be important, exclusive, urgent and dangerous.” This quote was regarding the art of negotiation. Urgent: explaining how important this opportunity. Exclusive: This opportunity can only come from you/your company. Urgent: This opportunity is newsworthy/relevant – right now. Dangerous: This opportunity is only ‘on the table’ for so long. This process is an art – an art that takes most years of experience to perfect – of perfect marketing.
  • “We don’t sell advertising, we sell thought leadership.” This. Is. Great. Specific to public television, ad spots have to be in the interest of their viewers at large. These ads have to evoke thought leadership to DPTV’s brand and provide knowledge-centered messages to its audiences. Understanding the marketing side of the business and only playing host ads that are consistent with their brand is perfection.
  • “Embrace limitations and advantages of (your) business.” I love this quote because although professional hurdles may arise it’s important to face them head on, and just go for it (after you do your homework). On the flip side, it may appear obvious to take advantage of well, the advantages, however sometimes that’s scary too –but it’s crucial to take risks.
  • “We have trust, and when you have kids you will put them in front of PBS.” DPTV/PBS has found a niche designing programs parents can trust. What a great understanding of their viewers: A need among parents to find a trusted network, matched by DPTV/PBS’ continued work to provide quality, educational programs for children. A perfect example of successful marketing to a loyal audience.
  • dptv5 (1)“Have a personal brand; be a leader.” Homberg went on to say that all of us (DEC Young Leaders) were leaders because we were there and we’re a part of DEC. Having a powerful personal brand that’s consistent is the mark of a good PR pro. Knowing how to tell your story and provide quality results over time is a marketer’s goal.
  • “It’s the good kind of tired.” Meaning that he feels rewarded by all that he and DPTV does – even if it takes a lot of work. Essentially the worthy things sometimes take the most work. I feel the same way about doing great things for great clients in my career.

This was such a great experience. I’d encourage all metro Detroiters and Detroiters under 36 to start a DEC Young Leader Membership.

What organizations are you a part of that have been impactful in your career?