Melissa Wright is leading vision, strategy and execution of local and national broadcast and digital programming and other projects in the new role of chief content officer at Twin Cities PBS (TPT).
Wright, most recently TPT’s senior vice president and general counsel, now also oversees the public service media organization’s publications, educational curriculum, websites, marketing and communications.
Wright joined TPT in 2014 and has overseen content teams there for several years. In addition to her legal, government relations and compliance responsibilities as general counsel, she led the Ready to Learn, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and education departments.
“I was building that knowledge and experience to work in the content space while I was still wearing the hat of the general counsel,” Wright said in an interview. “That was added to my work, which is not a typical general counsel job, but I loved it.”
Wright said she is challenging the organization to improve engagement with existing audiences and earn the trust of new ones. A new digital storytelling project, “Racism Unveiled,” works with community members to define racism and is “bringing in different voices, to tell stories in their own way.”
The project began production before social justice concerns that erupted this year. “What we hope through this project is that it is allowing our community to start dismantling systemic racism,” Wright said.
Wright’s experience includes working as an assistant attorney general in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, senior counsel at Wells Fargo and externship director at what then was William Mitchell College of Law, where she earned her law degree.
“Melissa’s breadth of experience, community relationships, portfolio of national PBS Kids programs and keen business insights are ideally aligned to this key strategic position,” TPT President and CEO Sylvia Strobel said in a release.
Q: What led to creation of the chief content officer role at TPT?
A: There wasn’t one person minding the shop across all the different platforms, from digital work to on-air work, from local production that we do to serve our Minnesota community to the national work, to make sure there was a strategy and vision for that. This allows us to see more holistically and allows me to see all the opportunities there are. Sylvia Strobel joined TPT this year as our new CEO and president. She wanted to create a position where somebody would step in and do this.
Q: What is your immediate focus?
A: Working with our teams to create large-scale programs. We did this a few years ago with “Minnesota Remembers Vietnam.” It allows us to use multiple platforms. Back then we had events; we’ll probably have virtual events and use national platforms and local ones. “Racism Unveiled” has many of those elements. Almost everyone at TPT will somehow be involved in this and it will have strands of art and history and culture and public affairs all embedded as well.
Q: Where are you looking long term?
A: We’re going to be really deliberate and intentional in how we address the needs that our educators, children and caregivers may have.
We’ve already jumped into that space with some of the programming that we’ve had now that we’re in this virtual classroom world. We’ll be listening to parents, educators and others to see how we can formulate something that helps their community.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is email@example.com.