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With Hire of Turley, MTV Aims to Bring Social Conversation to TV

Turley Will Help Push 'Always On' Strategy

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MTV aired a 5-second clip wishing Miley Cyrus a speedy recovery shortly after she posted a Tweet saying she was sick.
MTV aired a 5-second clip wishing Miley Cyrus a speedy recovery shortly after she posted a Tweet saying she was sick. Credit: MTV

MTV is looking to bring the real-time conversation of social media to TV.

Richard Turley's departure from Bloomberg Businessweek, where he was the highly regarded creative director, to become the cable network's first senior VP of visual storytelling and deputy editorial director came as a surprise. But as Mr. Turley tells it, the move is a new way for him to tell stories visually.

He will also be helping to lead MTV's "always on" strategy.

"We want to have an ongoing conversation with the audience in an immediate way," said Stephen Friedman, president of the Viacom-owned cable channel.

While MTV has an extensive social presence, which it uses to respond quickly to pop culture events, Mr. Friedman said he wants to connect that social conversation to TV.

MTV has taken early steps in creating content with a quick turnaround before getting on-air, generating a 5-second clip that aired on the network, for example, wishing Miley Cyrus a speedy recovery shortly after she posted a Tweet saying she was sick.

And during the MTV Movie Awards earlier in the month, the network quickly created a gif of Zac Efron's shirt being ripped off and played that on the network.

MTV is looking for advertisers to be a part of these interstitials, Mr. Friedman said. It is in early discussions with clients to devise a new sponsorship model for this type of content, he said.

MTV isn't the only network looking to engage with its viewers on TV in real-time. Turner Broadcasting is also looking to bring real-time marketing to TV, currently seeking an agency or client partner to get marketing messages on-air in a 24-to-48-hour window.

Mr. Turley, who has been best-known recently for the splashy covers during his time at Bloomberg Businessweek, will be hands-on in creating images, videos and other content to live on-air and across platforms. While it is still early to say exactly how his role will look day to day, Mr. Turley said he envisions it like working at a daily newspaper. Mr. Turley worked at the Guardian in London before joining Bloomberg Businessweek.

"Come in and have a morning meeting where we discuss the goings on in the world and take that and turn it into content that will appear later that day," he said.

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