STV Drum News Scotland

Nine ways to turn round an ailing TV station: STV’s Rob Woodward’s top tips

By Gordon Young | Editor

April 5, 2012 | 4 min read

Rob Woodward, the CEO of STV, told a business gathering in Glasgow this morning that the company plans to relaunch its online local services for Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as giving them a list of the guiding management principles that helped him rescue the station.

The new metro services will aim to provide local news and video to Scotland’s two biggest sites, building on the functionality that already exists at

At the moment the company has around 21 such local services across Scotland, and sees the concept as a key part of its strategy to extend its online offering. The launch will be marked with a new TV commercial for the Glasgow service, which was previewed at the session which was organised by Dunning Creative Sparks.

However Woodward was in a reflective mood giving his audience insights into how far the industry and his company has moved since he took over five years ago.

“Five years ago,” he said, “I inherited a business which was facing administration. Now we have a company which is rightly acknowledged as having a lead in digital media and the market it serves.”

Key successes, he says, include kick starting the company’s production department again – and cites a deal where STV has been commissioned to produce the Antique Roadtrip as a landmark example. The business has also relaunched its website over the period and claims to now attract 3m unique visitors.

Said Woodward, “TV has actually ended up being a lot more durable than previously thought. Scots still love television and watch 4.5hours on average, per person every day – which is the highest level in the UK.”

On the back of this STV has also rolled out a localised news format which serves centres such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen and developed new programmes like Scotland Tonight.

Although he acknowledged the business has still a long way to go, he is confident the business is now on the right course. Perhaps buoyed by the fruits of his labours becoming more apparent, the former Channel Four commercial director and City highflyer shared the leadership principles he aims to follow at STV.

1) Build your team: make sure you have the right people round you


2) Set out your ambition:

He said: “When I walked in five years ago STV lacked ambition, people had no sense of what they wanted to achieve, but we have now imbedded a real sense of clarity, and even made public our KPIs to make clear the objective we were setting.”

3) Be aspirational:

“Set out your goals beyond the attainable, so people push themselves hard. For example we have just come up with new KPIs and we are not even sure as a management team how they will be achieved.”

4) Communicate relentlessly:

“Particularly to your own staff.”

5) Be accessible:

“anybody who has been to my office will know I don’t have one. I have the worst seat in the business, where I plonked myself right in the middle of the floor. The key is we are informal, professional, but informal. But we are also accessible, so come and talk.”

6) Retain humanity:

“and a bit of humility on your journey”

7) Trust your instinct:

“Remember you are paid to lead, you can do all the analysis but ultimately it will be down to you to make the decision."

8) Know when you have to change your mind:

“Particularly important in an environment where we are all experimenting and trying new things. Sometimes you will have to say it is not working we have to stop.”

9) Instil confidence:

“Instil a sense of real confidence right across the organisation.”

STV Drum News Scotland

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