How King 5 Seattle has integrated innovation into everything they do

In the lead up to the Local Media Association’s Media Transformation Conference in September, we’ll be featuring some of the biggest names and most relevant sessions.

There’s a ton of innovation happening at TEGNA and King 5 Seattle and in a keynote address we’ll get deep on their very structured approach to innovation. We spoke with Frank Mungeam, Vice President, Digital Audience Engagement about what they are doing.

Frank Mungeam, VP Digital Audience Engagement, TEGNA

Tell us about the Innovation Lab, how it works and what results have come out of it?

The most important thing about the Lab is it’s not a physically separated room. It’s not a separate group of “innovators.”  The Lab is not isolated from daily operations, it’s a mindset of integrating innovation into everything we do every day.

 King 5 has done an incredible job attempting new ideas and really raising the innovation bar. How have you done it culturally?

Culture starts with leadership. So the first key is that KING5 leaders from the GM to the News Director have supported innovation. They’ve allocated both resources and time. They’ve also made it clear that it’s OK to fail. Not every experiment works. Once you have that leadership support, the other key is that the best ideas are bottom-up, not top-down. So there is a process where anyone can pitch an idea, and we see some of the best ideas have surfaced that way. 

 What project(s) are you most proud of?

I’m as proud of the “failures” because you can’t get to success without trying some big, bold things – and they won’t all work. But one innovation-in-progress is KING5’s new afternoon show “Take 5.” The team committed to reimagine what a ‘local newscast’ might look like. They partnered with a local text-messaging start-up to give the audience a more immediate and direct way to engage. They took the program out of the studio (they actually do it in the lobby!), and they have a mission of “Learn something. Feel something. Do something” that has resulted in a fresh, engaging experience for the audience. 

 What advice do you have for companies looking to start innovation centers/hubs?

Be willing to make a commitment of people, time and resources over an extended period of time. Innovation isn’t a box to be checked, it now needs to be integrated into our ongoing operations, forever. Be prepared for failed experiments. They are the cost of getting to breakthrough innovations; and if you aren’t failing, you aren’t being bold enough. Be careful about insulating your innovation efforts and teams from daily operations, which can create barriers and silos. Innovation can happen any day, at any level of the organization, and can come from any employee. As leaders, our goal should be to build a culture that encourages and rewards that.

 Any links to any work you have done that you’d like to share?

Here is a look at their Take 5 project:

Here is a VR immersive video KING5 did as part of their ongoing coverage of the homeless problem in their city. “Under the Bridge” takes you inside a homeless camp and lets you explore the scene in 360:

Register for the Media Transformation Conference right here.