Pivot certainly has an admirable mission.

Created by Participant Media and launching this summer, the cable network will be packed with programming – including a new twist on the variety show by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a docu-talk hybrid from Meghan McCain – designed to not only entertain millennials but to inspire them to make the world a better place.

But the 15- to 34-year-old audience that pivot – and that’s pivot with a lowercase “p” – aims to reach is known to be easily distracted. So how does this new player in an already crowded multi-channel universe capture their attention? Christine Champagne spoke with Kent Rees, Participant Television’s EVP of marketing, scheduling and operations, to find out how pivot will get young people involved when it launches August 1.

Christine Champagne: Can you tell me more about the genesis of pivot?

Kent Rees: Our parent company is Participant Media, which is a film company that was founded by Jeff Skoll. Jeff was the original, first employee and president of eBay. After his time at eBay ended, he decided to spend the rest of his life giving his money away for pro-social causes, and he did two things: He founded the Skoll Foundation, which supports social entrepreneurs all over the world, and he founded Participant. Participant is based on Jeff’s vision of a story well told can change the world.

Pivot is here to bring that mission and Jeff’s vision to television, which is arguably the most impactful form of content on the planet. It’s the most talked about, the most tweeted about and really, it’s an opportunity to message 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The network is going to be entertaining and exciting and really something that’s inspiring, and then also have the room to generate social messages as well.

Champagne: I am sure a lot of discussion and debate went into choosing a name for the network. How did you arrive at pivot?

Rees: We chose the name pivot because we see it as meaning choice or choosing to change in a positive way. If we all pivoted our thinking a little bit or chose to do something slightly different, those choices could add up to make meaningful and lasting impact. Really, we look at the millennials as being the next greatest generation to help save the world.

Champagne: How have you begun to market pivot to your desired audience of millennials, and how will the campaign develop?

Rees: Obviously, social media is the first place we started. We’ve fired up our Facebook pages and all that sort of stuff. There is a piece of video content that you can see there that gives you a flavor of what we think the brand means and why it should matter to this audience. [below]

It’s really important to connect the launch of a network to content. I think people want to know, “Great, you have a network. Good for you. What’s on it?” One of the things we really want to do is make sure that the shows are front and center. You’re going to hear about all of our programing right out of the gate. A lot of times, I think a show is a much better example of a brand, in television particularly, than just the brand itself.

We have a live program, “TakePart Live,” which is going to launch the first day of the network as well. We think that having a live show from day one is going to be a non-traditional way to get people connected from the get-go.


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