AOL and PBS introduced the Makers series in February 2012 as a video showcase for high-profile women such as Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and talk show host Katie Couric. Now Makers is broadening its scope to include women still rising in business.
AOL plans to invite up to 100 companies to nominate three female employees each for the new Makers@ program and attend next year's new Makers conference, according to the company. "I feel like this is the perfect way for companies to connect with the Makers in their organizations to elevate them and shine a light on them," said Maureen Sullivan, senior VP and GM-lifestyle brands and women's content at AOL.
Ms. Sullivan hasn't ironed out how those nominees will be communicated to the broader Makers audience outside of their respective organizations, but AOL plans to at least spotlight the participating companies on Makers.com. The Makers@ section will remain, however, primarily a showcase. "We're not trying to be a social network," she said.
The expanded focus underscores AOL's ambition for Makers to become a TED-like platform for issues related to women in business. Its inaugural Makers conference in Southern California next February will be moderated by Kara Swisher, co-executive editor at All Things D, and is scheduled to include participation by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg; Wendy Clark, senior VP-integrated marketing at Coca-Cola; Shelly Lazarus, Ogilvy & Mather chairman emeritus; Megan Smith, VP at Google X; and Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine.
Last fall the company organized a local version called Next Makers, where people could nominate women from their communities to receive video profiles on Makers.com.
More video content means more documentary films to follow this past February's three-hour broadcast premiere. Ms. Sullivan wouldn't commit to any plans but acknowledged the possibility of topic-specific documentaries like women in sports or technology.