Doing a successful pandemic brand pivot

How do you do a successful pandemic brand pivot?

COVID has spawned a cottage industry of advice on  shifting the tactics of your brand – amping up the education and free value to your followers, reaching out more often, focusing on empathy over persuasion, etc etc. But so much of it seems, well, timid and incremental. And – speaking as a focus group of one – most of it is absolute shite. If I log onto one more webinar that delivers lame advice taken from the back cover notes of a Seth Godin book, I swear I’ll walk off a bridge.

Where are the awesome pivots? Where are the titans forging brave new paths forward?

I went looking for awesome pandemic brand pivots. And found one right here in my own backyard. Click To Tweet

Well, I found one. And as luck would have it, he was right in my backyard, here in Victoria, BC.

Matthew Watson is the CEO of SendtoNews, the biggest sports video service you’ve never heard of (I can’t take credit for that handle – it was the headline of a great Toronto Star story). The company provides engaging, up-to-the-moment official video clips from major sports leagues to publishers. They even attach advertising to the clips, sharing the ad revenues with the publisher and league.

SendtoNews is a beast – outpacing even ESPN as a video sharing platform. They share over one billion video views a month. But when COVID hit, one of the first casualties was sporting events. No sports, no sports clips. How did SendtoNews pivot?

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Amazingly well, as it turns out. They started an entirely new video clip sharing service that actually made March 2020 the company’s most successful month ever.

What was the new offering? It’s all in the interview I did with Matthew. Enjoy!

Pandemic Brand Pivot: The show notes

  • 2:25 – We’re definitely making some lemonade here, after being served lemons over the past few months.
  • 3:15 – What SendtoNews does, as explained by Matthew.
  • 3:55 – The staggering number of videos SendtoNews shares monthly and daily.
  • 4:21 – The innovative monetization model – why publishers and teams love this service.
  • 9:05 – Big in New York, but virtually invisible here in Victoria BC.
  • 10:42 – How we passed ESPN in 2018, and what they thought of it.
  • 12:35 – The business model, and how it enabled SendtoNews to pivot into non-sports video.
  • 13:38 – Launching the lifestyle video service.
  • 14:11 – Staggering stats on the company’s growth.
  • 15:00 – How SendtoNews pivoted into COVID video clip sharing.
  • 15:37 – The COVID video player, and the incredible response from publishers.
  • 16:50 – The pivot to the COVID video business – how the SendtoNews team did it.
  • 18:40 – Why March was a record month.
  • 19:27 – 45 million unique viewers.
  • 19:50 – Does the COVID video business also cover sports?
  • 21:56 – What Matthew tells CEOs in these uncertain times.
  • 22:45 – Challenging teams to challenge you.
  • 23:12 – Don’t say whoa in a mudhole.
  • 23:46 – Inspiring things Matthew has seen in these unsettling times.
  • 24:45 – The NY Yankees story that resonated during COVID.
  • 25:36 – Keeping perspective: what we’re solving are high class problems.
  • 26:26 – Why this challenge is unlike any that came before.
  • 27:11 – How COVID has shaken us to the core.
  • 28:10 – There are sectors of the economy that are really doing well today. Most of these sectors didn’t exist 10 years ago.
  • 29:12 – How technology is helping us be resilient today.
  • 29:51 – If you think you have a good digital platform today, think again.
  • 31:05 – We pivot to chat about the incredible healthcare innovations we’re seeing today.


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