Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hallmark Brand CEO Discusses How to Build Global Media Brands


Hallmark Media President and CEO Wonya Lucas spoke Feb. 21 to Georgetown University students about her experiences developing a global media brand in an increasingly digitized world.

The McDonough School of Business (MSB) hosted the event as part of its Stanton Distinguished Leaders Series, which brings together experts and industry leaders for conversations on business success. Michael O’Leary, the MSB senior associate dean for custom executive education, and Steve Schiffman, an MSB adjunct professor of management, co-moderated the conversation. 

Lucas said she had limited access to experiencing the world outside of her hometown of Atlanta while growing up. Media allowed her to see the world outside her own, which piqued her imagination and inspired her to enter the industry.

“I grew up in the South, and I’ve never left the South. Through television, I could see different types of people, I could venture into different types of worlds,” Lucas said. “I saw the power of television, and storytelling, and so that’s what intrigued me is really being able to do that for others, wanting to help create content that would transcend whatever physical barriers people may have or limitations.”

LinkedIn / Wonya Lucas | Hallmark Brand CEO Wonya Lucas joined Georgetown students to discuss her experiences leading a global media brand in an increasingly digitized age in the Rafik B. Hariri Building on Feb. 21.

Lucas said her unconventional background as an industrial engineer was critical to developing a technical foundation for her future in media. 

“I practiced engineering for about five years. The great thing about it is that it gave me a base of just strong quantitative skills that I could leverage,” Lucas said at the event.

Lucas attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania to learn brand management skills. Hallmark Media appointed Lucas as president and CEO in 2020 after serving in various leadership roles at WarnerMedia, The Weather Channel and National Public Radio (NPR).

Lucas said the company’s humble beginnings and storied history attracted her to the opportunity.

“The Hallmark Brand is 111 years old,” Lucas said. “A guy named J.C. Hall started selling postcards from his buggy. He met someone in Kansas City, and they formed a relationship that was really a foundation for Hallmark. That guy was named Walt Disney. So they were the first licensee, and continue to be the licensee, for Mickey Mouse.”

Lucas said that since its inception, Hallmark intentionally cultivates a purpose-driven brand that resonates with people from all backgrounds.

“It is all about putting care in the world. It is about finding that card that says exactly what you want to say to someone. But that card has to do that for a whole lot of people,” Lucas said.

Hallmark’s founders prioritized maintaining their brand image even as they expanded their business ventures beyond greeting cards into media channels. Lucas said she strives to keep this sentiment alive to distinguish Hallmark-branded media from its competitors.

“In the fragmented markets, brands matter. The great thing about Hallmark is if I say, ‘Hallmark Channel,’ how many people think of love? How many people think of rom-coms?” Lucas said. “Because people like romantic comedies, they want love. I was talking to the guy who used to run NPR, and I was telling him about Hallmark. And he said, ‘You own love.’ And it was just a brilliant way to express our brand.”

Lucas said she strives to build strong teams who are technically proficient and operate based on the foundational values of the Hallmark brand to tackle new challenges in an increasingly digitized media market.

“I look for people that are smarter than I am. I look for people who are subject matter experts, people I admire, not just for what they do, but for who they are. And I look for people who are kind,” Lucas said.

Lucas said that above all else, she aims to harness the power of storytelling to help everyone connect with their shared humanity.

“I believe you got to stay true to the audience. You got to stay true to the brand,” Lucas said. “So whether it’s a kid who’s trying to understand their identity and you’re a mom, or whether it’s about understanding cultural authenticity, it has to be relevant to everyone. And authentic is how we’ve always done it.”

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