Corporate culture at ProSiebenSat.1
Celebrating success, overcoming crises, and taking a stance: Five values unite us
7,284 employees1 in New Hope and Hamburg, in London and Unterföhring, in Tel Aviv and many other locations around the world. ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE’s business is diverse – and so are the people who create moments that matter within the Group every day. What unites these individuals across their various companies and countries? They love what they do, and they are passionate about the topics they tackle together. They believe in ideas and see creativity as an integral part of their DNA. They are driven by courage and curiosity – irrespective of titles or hierarchies. They think and act as entrepreneurs and always strive for the best solution. They take a stance and take their social responsibility seriously.
Since last year, five values describe what has always defined the corporate culture at ProSiebenSat.1: Passion, Innovation, Courage, Goal-Orientation and Responsibility. Developed by an interdisciplinary project group, these corporate values create a common foundation for all employees. They serve as guideposts for their work and strengthen cooperation. In interviews below, five colleagues tell us what they experienced in 2022, how they had to overcome challenges – and how they live out these values within the ProSiebenSat.1 cosmos.
1: Employee numbers represent full-time equivalents (FTE).
“Everyone involved on the different teams is excited about ‘Wer stiehlt mir die Show?’ (Stealing the Show!). And this passion radiates to viewers through the screen.”
Nobody steals the show from this show. Winner of several German Television Awards and the Grimme Award, “Wer stiehlt mir die Show?” (Stealing the Show!) by and with Joko Winterscheidt is one of the most successful ProSieben shows starts of recent years. The novel show concept offering what is probably the most off-beat prize in quiz-show history – control over the show itself – has been putting a whole new spin on the genre for the past two years. “At the end of the day, it’s more than just a quiz, it’s entertainment at its best,” says Barbara Gründl, the ProSieben Executive Producer responsible for the show. “It’s the perfect composition of ingredients. Like the favorite dish you love to eat because everything goes together so perfectly.” To play the game, candidates try to score points in eight quiz categories. If they reach the finale, they compete against Joko Winterscheidt for the chance to win their own episode. In past seasons, prominent artists such as Thomas Gottschalk, Anke Engelke and Bastian Pastewka have successfully challenged the host, going on to provide unique moments of television with their own versions of the show.
Barbara sees Passion, as a value, and the in-house ProSieben production as the ideal match. “The show is put together with an insane amount of attention to detail,” she explains. “Everyone involved on the project’s different teams is excited about the show. And in my view, this passion radiates to viewers through the screen.” The ratings likewise confirm this impression. In terms of reach, “Wer stiehlt mir die Show?” (Stealing the Show!) is one of the most successful German show series of the past year within the target audience of 14- to 49-year-olds. A resounding success for the ProSieben team. “I’m happy when I realize I can play a part in helping us get something great off the ground. I love what I do. Taking people to another world and entertaining them is my passion. And even when things sometimes don’t go according to plan, that only spurs me on. It doesn’t detract from my love for the job,” says the Executive Producer.
With the company since January 2022, Barbara was able to immerse herself in the Joko & Klaas cosmos right from the start. She already knew some of her colleagues from previous professional roles, including at production companies such as Redseven Entertainment, a production subsidiary of the newly founded Seven.One Studios umbrella brand. For Barbara, it was a great start to the new job: “When I began, we were all still working from home. And I have to say, I was impressed by how helpful all the people here are. This spirit and passion – it’s just incredible.”
“We need to give people guidance and help them get through the crisis as well as we can.”
As war broke out in Europe, energy became scarcer. Prices shot up, hitting household budgets hard. For many people in Germany, the year 2022 turned into an existential threat. “The energy crisis came as a bitter shock. No one expected that electricity and gas prices could sky-rocket in such a short time,” says Verivox press spokesman and energy expert Lundquist Neubauer, looking back on the eventful year. What led to the crisis? What can people do in response? And when will energy-market prices return to reasonable levels?
Questions that give consumers in Germany food for thought. For Verivox, a ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE company that lets consumers switch contracts digitally and easily, this has been a challenging time. As the energy crisis took hold, prices for new electricity and gas customers exploded within the space of just a few weeks. For many potential customers, this eliminated any advantage in shifting to a new provider.
“Our customers were understandably very unsettled. In the past, they were able to save hundreds of euros by switching. But new-customer rates were suddenly more expensive than their existing contracts – even if those older contracts had themselves been subject to significant price hikes. Although our business model in the energy sector is based on brokering electricity and gas contracts, we as a company quickly realized that the crisis demanded transparent, open, and honest communication. We need to give people guidance and help them get through the crisis as well as we can,” says Lundquist, describing the importance of Innovation as a value for Verivox. Verivox’s team responded swiftly to the shifting landscape: Placing informational pages prominently on the Verivox website, they worked to enlighten consumers, explaining the crisis and ongoing price trends as well as pointing out ways to save. This guidance took the shape of articles and videos that the company also promoted through its own social media channels and flanked with marketing campaigns.
But this commitment to making markets transparent also extends beyond the company’s own platforms. Even before the crisis, the Heidelberg-based company was evaluating and interpreting its own price data and making it available to the press. “We use our data to track movements in the energy market very closely. That’s why our work has always been data-driven,” explains the energy expert, who has worked for the company since 2016. “But what has changed during the energy crisis is the huge public interest in the issue as well as the speed with which prices are shifting.” In time, this growing focus made it difficult to provide data manually, so the company’s experts decided they needed a technical solution.
Today, the Verivox team provides numerous major German media organizations with energy price data via an automated interface, updated on a daily basis. The information has been appearing in publications such as Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, the Funke Mediengruppe and Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. Zeit Online even displays what it dubs its energy monitor prominently for readers on its home page. At the same time, the program soon drew the eye of national policymakers, who began studying Verivox’s information for use in their own deliberations. For example, the Gas Commission, which devised the electricity and gas price brake on behalf of the German government, based its analysis in part on Verivox’s price data as well as citing the company in its final report. One additional result of this transparent communication is that the number of times the company is mentioned in the media has doubled year-on-year.
Will the media interest remain when the energy crisis subsides? Lundquist is certain that it will. “The topic of energy remains highly relevant,” he says. “We have positioned ourselves as an honest, expert partner for journalists and our work has helped to keep this crisis in check. So in a certain sense, the cloud has had a silver lining.”
“Real love is for everyone. We’re committed to providing a platform that reflects that. Courage is important if we’re going to do anything meaningful and make meaningful change.”
Who are we? What do we stand for? What values do we represent? These questions are at the heart of Kristen Berry’s job as eharmony’s Vice President Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility. Her May 2020 start at the US-based online dating platform came at an eventful time. The COVID-19 pandemic, political disputes as well as movements such as “Black Lives Matter” were all generating calls for structural change and increased inclusivity in the United States. “People are expecting companies like us to create an environment that’s as inclusive as possible. They want the brands that they support to reflect their values,” Kristen says. For eharmony, which is part of ParshipMeet Group, the events of the last several years have offered an opportunity to develop new ideas for addressing these issues more directly. As Kristen and her team were crafting the corporate social responsibility strategy, they focused on one thought in particular: “How can we better support all of our community?” After all, especially when it comes to online dating, it is important to users to present themselves authentically while also making sure they are connecting with the people they are really looking for. “Real love is for everyone. We’re really committed to providing a platform that reflects that,” Kristen says. “It doesn’t matter what your racial background is, what your religious beliefs might be, or who you love. If somebody is looking for a real and meaningful connection, then eharmony should be the place to find that.”
That is why users have since 2021 been able to specify whether they are specifically interested in men, women, or all people when dating – an important change supporting bisexual people seeking partners. And this is just the beginning. eharmony is constantly looking for new ways to become even more inclusive for all its members, including people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Mindful of this goal, Kristen launched what is dubbed the “Product & Marketing Inclusion Task Force” in 2020. Twice a month, this group explores changes in the market and jointly analyzes the company’s own products with a view to diversity, equality, and inclusion. What do all these efforts and changes call for? Kristen is sure that eharmony could not function without Courage as a value: “Courage is important if we’re going to do anything meaningful and make meaningful change. The safest option might be to just maintain the status quo. But if we don’t do things that scare us a little, we’ll never make real change.”
“I never want to say, ‘We’ll do it this way because that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Every year, we make a fresh effort to find the best solution.”
Five thousand people are gathered in the MARX HALL in Vienna. Everyone is glued to the stage. With Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor Karl Nehammer present, Volodymyr Zelensky makes his first live video appearance in Austria, speaking about the war in his country. The president of Ukraine appeals to the world at large, asking for support. Taking place at the 4GAMECHANGERS Festival 2022, this was the kind of moment that raises goosebumps – and in this case was experienced by more than three million Austrians across all platforms. Bannered “The Power of Cooperation,” people came together in the heart of Vienna to change the world for the better and discuss solutions for the future. Appropriately, the event itself was based on cooperation rather than competition. For the first time in Austrian media history, ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 organized its international digital festival as a co-partnership with ORF. “This cooperation with our biggest national competitor came as a total surprise to the market,” says Nina Kaiser, a member of the ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 Management Board and Cofounder of 4GAMECHANGERS. “We’re a small country and we need to stick together on global issues and our shared future, or we won’t have any impact. ‘The Power of Cooperation’ is also a philosophy of life for me. It’s always better to do things together rather than alone.”
Nina and her ten-member team have been organizing the festival since 2016. As an intrapreneurship project within ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4, they handle all the associated tasks themselves, from drawing up contracts with sponsors to marketing and event management. They think and act as entrepreneurs by funding all expenses through the event’s own income. “The world is spinning faster. Everything is becoming blurrier. With this event, we can get closer to new stakeholders,” Nina says. The festival is divided into three days: 4PIONEERS Day, 4FUTURE Day and 4GAMECHANGERS Day. On each day, opinion leaders from various sectors of industry speak in exciting panel discussions and offer presentations on topics such as tech and innovation, climate and sustainability as well as jobs and education. From the get-go, the event has been inspired by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. “With each program focus, we try to make a meaningful contribution to one of these overall global goals,” Nina explains. In this regard, they have been very successful. But for her, this is no reason to stick with the status quo because she and her team live and breathe Goal-Orientation as a value: “I never want to say, ‘We’ll do it this way because that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Every year, we make a fresh effort to find the best solution. Within the scope of what’s possible, we set our goals higher every year. And sometimes it doesn’t get bigger, it just gets different. COVID-19 was, of course, a huge challenge for us. We had to stay completely flexible.” In 2020, the team had to cancel the 4GAMECHANGERS festival only three weeks before its scheduled opening. In consequence, they broadcasted a completely digitalized version on TV the following year. This made it all the more gratifying to at last meet again in person in 2022 and rekindle networks of industry contacts.
“In this day and age, it’s important to make a statement and give socially relevant topics a platform.”
Diversity, acceptance, and respect. At the World Cup in Qatar, the major European soccer associations wanted to make a statement with the “One Love” captain’s armband. Then, at the start of the tournament, they decided against it. Just three hours after the news broke, ProSieben began displaying the “One Love” logo permanently at the top left-hand corner of the TV screen. A strong statement. “When the German Football Federation gave way in Qatar, as many other European football associations did simultaneously, it was instantly clear to us that we had to do something and take a stance. In the end, we were the first and the fastest to do so. That was much appreciated – by our employees as well as by viewers and advertising customers,” says Oliver Jahn, Senior Brand Manager in ProSieben’s Marketing department. Over the past year in particular, he and his team have implemented a number of key values-based campaigns for the broadcaster’s brand. These campaigns typically arise in the course of day-to-day events, which makes them difficult to plan for. “Issues suddenly come up that we as people have never had to deal with before,” Oliver says. So what do Oliver and his team set store by in their work? “You can’t go into this finger wagging,” he explains. “We’re not here to tell the world what’s good or what’s bad. We want to show what we stand for and what we don’t.”
In 2022, ProSieben took a public stance on a number of socially relevant topics, underscoring the importance of Responsibility as a value. For example, as part of “Zervakis & Opdenhövel. Live.” (#ZOL), the broadcaster launched its own fundraising campaign for war refugees from Ukraine and, at the end of the year, cast a spotlight on the fight for freedom in Iran in front of an audience of millions. Videos aired on TV and online offer striking evidence of how the people there – especially women – have risked their lives to protest against the Iranian regime’s brutal oppression.
“We run these campaigns because we embrace these values ourselves. ProSieben is open-minded. ProSieben is tolerant and empathetic. Especially in this day and age, it’s important to make a statement and give socially relevant issues a platform,” Oliver says. He himself drove an ambulance for four years, both as a community service worker and as a part-time job. That made him realize the deeper meaning of social responsibility. “We’re in a pretty privileged position in this country. We can do a lot in support of good causes. And that’s exactly what motivates me personally to keep doing these campaigns,” he says.
Values should come from within a company so as to authentically reflect its culture. That is why ProSiebenSat.1 set up an interdisciplinary project group comprising colleagues from a number of different areas. How many people were involved in this values development process?
Correct! More than 40 ProSiebenSat.1 employees worked on the values project in various workshops and discussion groups. Showing tremendous personal commitment, they contributed to this company effort while also doing their regular jobs and collectively put into words the core and special DNA of ProSiebenSat.1 as a company: Passion. Innovation. Courage. Goal-Orientation. Responsibility.
Unfortunately not correct! More than 40 ProSiebenSat.1 employees worked on the values project in various workshops and discussion groups. Showing tremendous personal commitment, they contributed to this company effort while also doing their regular jobs and collectively put into words the core and special DNA of ProSiebenSat.1 as a company: Passion. Innovation. Courage. Goal-Orientation. Responsibility.