10 Questions with ... Lucia Folk
June 5, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I began my career as a fundraiser in Chicago, first for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I burned out on that career path at the ripe old age of 26, literally hit the road driving the Hershey's Kissmobile across the country, and then managed the Hershey Foods account for the experiential marketing and promotions agency, Marketing Werks, in Chicago. In 2002, I moved to Nashville and continued my unusual career path managing the CMT mobile marketing program--sending CMT promotional vehicles all over the country to spread the gospel of country music. Five years ago, I was lucky enough to land my dream job heading up the public affairs department for CMT, which combined my nonprofit and marketing experience.
1) For anyone that may not know, can you tell us what CMT One Country is, and its mission?
CMT One Country is the channel's national call to volunteerism, with the goal of inspiring CMT viewers to take action in their own communities. We do this by showcasing great acts of kindness, civic participation and volunteerism as well as highlighting the work of our six national nonprofit partners on all of CMT's media platforms. We connect our viewers to volunteer opportunities in their hometowns on CMTONECOUNTRY.com.
2) Why was CMT One Country established initially, and do you think some of its goals have been met?
MTV Networks has a long history of incorporating social responsibility into our business practices, from MTV's first Choose or Lose campaign in 1992, to the establishment of the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and Nickelodeon's Big Help, just to name a few. It was only natural that CMT create its own public affairs initiative to encourage our viewers to take action in their communities, especially since the genre of country music has always focused on family and community. CMT One Country has met a number of our goals, including working with our nonprofit partners to mobilize one million volunteers, helping our friend, Dierks Bentley, take his Miles & Music for Kids fundraising events nationwide to support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals; and taking advantage of CMT's reach to raise awareness and donations for important issues facing our viewers. One recent example of this is Music Builds: The CMT Disaster Relief Concert, which highlighted the 16 plus states that have been recently affected by tornadoes and flooding and raised donations for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Efforts.
3) You took the helm of the program in 2006. What attracted you personally to the program?
Honestly, if I could have written a description of my dream job, this would have been it. It was exciting because the Public Affairs department had just been created and I was its first staff member. CMT One Country and its nonprofit partners had been announced, but the entire initiative, from the logo, to the PSAs, to the mission, to the website-all of that had to be created. I was lucky enough to start on the ground floor and work with my internal and external partners to craft the direction of CMT One Country. It was thrilling and terrifying at the same time and it continues to be the most fun I've ever had in a job.
4) Who are some of the partners for CMT One Country and how are they chosen?
CMT One Country has six national nonprofit partners: Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Hands On Network and the USO (United Service Organizations). These partners were chosen because they focus on issues that are important to our viewers, and frankly, that some of our viewers may be facing-affordable housing, fighting hunger, support for our military and their families, providing access to the best hospital care for children, and providing safe places for children to learn and grow. In addition, these partners have local affiliates across the country that our viewers can connect to in their own hometowns.
5) How do the viewers get involved in their own community and has that aspect been successful?
CMT One Country's goal is to make it easy for our viewers to get involved by directing them to CMTONECOUNTRY.com, where every user can find volunteer opportunities in their hometown by just entering their zip code. We aren't afraid to use a carrot to get them there either-we have a monthly rewards system where every viewer who logs at least four hours of service is automatically entered to win goodies from CMT including an iPod, CMT swag and a donation to that viewer's charity of choice. Each of those monthly winners is entered to win a VIP trip to the CMT Music Awards. The rewards system provides us with great examples of our viewers who showcase how one person can make a difference and, hopefully, inspire others to do the same, which is what CMT One Country is all about.
6) Congrats on being recognized by Nashville Mayor Karl Deal recently at the PENCIL Foundation's BRAVO! Awards Luncheon. Was that for your tie-in with McGavock High School in Nashville?
Thank you so much. I am so proud of that award and for CMT being recognized as the Academy Partner of the Year for the Arts, Media and Communication industry in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). Both of these awards are so exciting because they acknowledge the incredible volunteer work our CMT staff has done over the past year as a business partner to McGavock High School's Academy of Digital Design and Communication. In one year, more than half of CMT's employees have volunteered nearly 1,100 hours of service-everything from our creative team teaching the relevance of geometry to the design process, to our engineering team rewiring the school auditorium.
7) McGavock is the largest of the Metro schools in Nashville--how has CMT's involvement helped.
I am sure McGavock's Principal, Robbin Wall, would have a better understanding than I do about that, but from my perspective, there are a few obvious examples. One would be our help improving the physical structure of the school including rewiring the auditorium, as well as donating equipment and our engineers' brainpower to set up a working television studio in a room that formerly housed the HVAC system. I was honored to be a part of an event where Governor Haslam toured the studio and was interviewed by the students on camera-their excitement was priceless. I've also been lucky enough to interact with our Academy teachers and hear their feedback about how working with CMT to provide real world examples in the classroom is helping engage their students in a positive way. In addition, each time we engage with students, CMT staff members receive emails from them saying how much they appreciate our time. An added bonus is that this experience has been equally rewarding for our employees.
8) How does CMT One Country tie in with the CMT Awards?
With the CMT Music Awards being our channel's biggest night of the year, it's important for us to highlight every facet of our artists' successes, including how incredibly generous the country music community is. Each year, CMT One Country makes donations to each winning artist's charity of choice. We promote those nonprofits on CMT.com, so when our viewers vote for their favorite artist, they are also voting for that artist's charity to win a donation that night. We engage the charities as well, so they can reach out to their supporters to vote for them. In addition, a few years ago, we decided that rather than give the performers and presenters gift bags of more stuff that they don't need, we would make a donation on their behalf to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to support their BackPack program. The BackPack program works through teachers, administration and school nurses who identify school aged children at risk who receive a pack of food on Fridays which they can take home to ensure they are have enough food for the weekend. CMT One Country's donation has provided 238,400 meals to 596 school aged children during the past three school years and the artists have loved it. Darius Rucker, Trisha Yearwood and Paula Deen have helped us promote the BackPack program in conjunction with the Awards.
9) What do you see for the future of CMT One Country?
I would love for CMT One Country to continue to evolve and grow partnerships with our nonprofit partners to support their programs in new and different ways. Right now, I am working Cody Alan from CMT Radio Live to draw on his experience and expertise in radio to directly benefit one of our partners, plus provide a rewarding experience for him, his guests and his listeners. We should be announcing that partnership later this year. We are also currently working on a campaign to provide resources for our viewers to pursue higher education and make the process a little less overwhelming and intimidating. It's exciting because while CMT has made great strides connecting to students in our community, this will expand our efforts to connect to students all over the country.
10) In your spare time you deliver for 'Meals On Wheels,' to seniors in a high poverty area. What keeps you motivated to these great causes?
Well, I have a wicked sense of humor, so I like to say that I do it to balance out my karma. Also, I couldn't really manage CMT One Country and ask our viewers to volunteer if it wasn't something that I believed in and did myself. The real reason I volunteer is what most people who do will tell you, I receive just as much, and often more, than I receive from the seniors I visit each week on my route. The sweetest lady, Miss Cleo, is on my route and just talking to her for 2-3 minutes each week is a treat. She has the best attitude and perspective on life and it's just great to have the opportunity to visit with her, especially because she's someone I probably would not have had the opportunity to meet in my everyday life.