Ricki Lake Gets Personal

Ricki Lake is going beyond Facebook and Twitter—both of which the talk-show host makes plentiful use of—to build an audience before her new daytime show even launches this fall.

“We have to engage our viewers in a very meaningful way well in advance of the show,” Stephen Brown, senior VP of programming and development for Twentieth Television, says about preparing to launch The Ricki Lake Show. “We have to create this groundswell, these ‘friends of Ricki,’ so that by the time we launch, we’ve built an army that’s already invested in the brand.”

Twentieth, the show’s producer and distributor, has plenty of plans in mind. For starters, it is broadcasting a live Ricki production meeting each month on Facebook and UStream. During the broadcasts, viewers can ask questions and make comments in real time via The Ricki Lake Show’s Facebook page, the UStream stream or Twitter. The next meeting is scheduled for April 26 at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET.

“People always want to see behind the scenes,” says Lisa Kridos, The Ricki Lake Show’s executive producer. “This is not like airing the show and then asking people afterwards what they thought. Every show says they use social media, but we not only say it, we actually do it and are listening to what people have to say.”

After the first production meeting broadcast in March, “likes” on the show’s Facebook page skyrocketed from 10,000 to more than 70,000. Kridos and her production team already are gleaning ideas from the socialmedia interactions. For example, one woman asked if Lake would be talking about blended families, noting that like herself, the show host is newly remarried and forming her own blended family.

“I immediately responded to her on Facebook and said, ‘Yes, tell me your story and your point of view,’” Kridos says.

Kridos expects Ricki Lake not only to gather ideas via its social media efforts, but also to occasionally cast guests that it discovers via Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.

In addition to the production meeting broadcasts, Ricki Lake is launching a digital magazine that will be available as an app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices, Brown says.

“It’s so exciting because it’s an adjunct to the show, and will include articles and information that aren’t on the show,” Kridos says. “It stands alone and gives our viewers and fans completely new information.”

The first issue of the magazine will be available soon, Brown says; content will include a welcome article by Lake, an interview with actress Kellie Martin on parenting and an article on body image.

“It’s not like before, when you just put on a show and hoped people would watch,” Brown says. “Online engagement is a 24/7 thing. It fulfi lls the promise of a 360-degree experience and of a 360-degree brand. It fulfi lls the promise that you are engaging in something that is bigger than you are.”

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Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.