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HRTS Member Profile: Lauren Michal

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Lauren Michal

Lauren Michal is Manager, Program Planning & Scheduling at NBC. I recently had a chance to interview Lauren to discuss scheduling, mentoring and Desperate Networks.

Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in entertainment?
-Being an avid consumer of television, I studied Communications at the University of Miami and enjoyed everything about my programming class, especially being exposed to the book Desperate Networks by Bill Carter. I loved reading about the constantly-changing successes/failures of shows and the extreme measures that creatives took to develop hit programs. More importantly, I took an interest in learning how schedulers positioned shows so the right audiences found them. I realized the latter was more in line with my interests and after that, I began researching the career paths of key executives in Program Planning and Scheduling. I learned a good portion of them started in Research so I tailored my career accordingly and began working in Research at CBS in 2008.

Q: How did being an HRTS mentee help you?
-First and foremost, it facilitated relationships with executives excelling in my desired area of television. They were emotionally invested in my success starting from Day 1 of meeting me. Being a mentee also gave me validation that I was truly working hard to achieve my career goals but just needed to accept that I couldn't fully see the fruits of my labor yet -- and that was okay!

Q: As an HRTS mentor, how are you helping others?
-I am also creating relationships between my mentee and trusted people within my personal network who can help groom him in their respective departments and roles. This will help him excel in his current position, while becoming well-rounded for future opportunities. Encouraging him to educate these executives on his departmental function completes a full circle of insight to know that everyone gets something out of the interactions.

Q: What are your thoughts on a truly year-round schedule for new shows?
-Scheduling original content year-round is mandatory in this age. It is another opportunity to remind viewers of your brand, continue their consumption habits, and further represent yourself in a cluttered and over-saturated marketplace.

Q: How do you research and schedule top programs and their lead-ins/outs with respect to shows on other networks?
-Despite the rise in time-shifted and multi-platform viewing, compelling content will drive audiences to watch live on a day and time. Positioning a proven show as a lead-in to new programming can expose an audience who may have otherwise not sampled. Research is still showing that lead-ins greatly impact the success of a new show, so that will continue to be a factor when launching new shows. Ultimately, a schedule that showcases strong content will help promote our remaining line-up, regardless of the competition.

Q: What are some ways that research will improve in the coming years?
-I think research will become more customized to what advertisers want to base their spending. Measuring tactics will adapt accordingly to quantify the type of advertising a viewer sees and their subsequent action to learn more about the ad, which is what ultimately makes buyers want to promote on this platform.

Q: Anything you’d like to add?
-Without ever working day-to-day with my mentors, I considered every meeting as an "interview" for a job opening that did not exist. By proving I was passionate and qualified during these opportunities, I was the first person that came to their minds when they did hear of an opening and there was no hesitation from them in referring me for my current job.


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