Today, we are happy to be speaking to an icon in our industry who is also an amazing leader! Carrie Ferenac has been a co-owner of CNTV (Convention News Television) for fifteen years and is currently the chairwoman of the board of directors of IAEE.
In this episode, Carrie tells her story and talks about her business. She shares her business experience and insights, offers advice for business owners, and talks about transparency, virtual learning, the importance of connecting, showing up, volunteering, and what needs to be done to build a company culture in our current environment.
We hope you enjoy our interesting and insightful conversation with Carrie Ferenac today!
Carrie and her business partner, Marcelo Zolessi, co-founded Convention News Television (CNTV) in 2007 after seeing a need for digital content and live production in the exhibitions and events industry. Now, the company produces live and remote content for more than seventy clients annually. The video stories bring events to life and offer associations and for-profit show organizers a new stream of revenue through sponsorships. CNTV also partners with IAEE, PCMA, TSNN, and Tradeshow Executive to produce video content and live coverage of industry events throughout the year.
Carrie has an extensive background in broadcast journalism and management. She spent eleven years at the NBC affiliate in Orlando (WESH-TV). Now, Carrie is entrenched in the meetings industry. She is the current chair of the IAEE Board of Directors, and Immediate Past Chair of the CEIR Board. She was a finalist for PCMA’s Supplier of the year in 2017 and 2019. She volunteers her time and energy to projects that forward the industry, including Exhibitions Day and the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign.
After graduating from the University of Florida, Carrie Ferenac became a hard-core journalist and worked in TV news for more than a decade. Most of her professional career was spent at the NBC affiliate in Orlando. She then ventured out on her own and started CNTV with her business partner in 2007
CNTV produces video content, live-streaming, and virtual events in the meetings and events industry. It is mostly for trade shows, conventions, and conferences.
Over the last year-and-a-half, CNTV pivoted, evolved, and changed. Now they are evolving into doing hybrid events.
Transparency has always been important at CNTV. With the onset of Covid, they spoke to their employees every day when the news was coming out, gave them updates on what was happening with all the shows, and kept everyone informed of the latest numbers. They also communicated directly with all their employees about their lay-offs and furlough. Maintaining that level of transparency helped them get through the crisis and the tough times.
They still have daily ten or fifteen-minute check-ins with their staff to keep the communication lines open and answer questions.
Every year, they have CNTV Day and spend an entire day taking every staff member on a full-day retreat where they plan for the future, answer questions about anything, do hands-on training, and even share some of their finances. It is done to keep the whole team as on board as possible and teach everyone about the business.
Starting a business
Starting a business is not easy because you need the stomach for it, and you have to be ready to evolve. Carrie and her business partner recruited a convention expert to consult with them about the industry.
Ask for help
It is always worth asking! Ask for help, and remember those who helped you along the way.
Carrie Ferenac took every class she could learn something from because she had to learn how to be a business owner.
Virtual trade show
It is Carrie’s belief that in-person trade shows are more successful than virtual ones.
Carrie believes that virtual learning and education are good and here to stay.
A live studio
Adding a live studio is a way to get thought leaders on camera to create content and assist with virtual content for virtual events.
When it comes to event marketing and creating unique experiences, hiring a producer is a good idea. Producers can help tell a compelling story, convert it to great content, summarize an event, and post it online.
Connecting is vital because people tend to remember the relationships and connections they make at events.
Showing up and volunteering
It is important to put yourself out there and get involved if you want to start a business. Showing up and volunteering is a great way to make connections and to get involved.
The CIER research predicts that we will be back to pre-pandemic numbers by the start of 2024.
2022 and beyond
Although Carrie is optimistic about the future, she believes that the rest of 2022 will still be hard. We are also seeing some changes this year that we will have to get used to in the future.
A changing workforce
The different and creative ways people are making money right now are changing the traditional workforce. Carrie feels that we need to be open to that and adapt to it.
Building a company culture in today’s environment
To build a company culture in the current environment, we should listen more carefully to what employees want. (Most people want fair pay, flexibility, and direction.) Employees also need to conform to the company’s values.
Connect with Eric
Connect with Carrie Ferenac
On CNTV website