Most people who work in local TV marketing come to the position by happenstance. A new program at the NBC/Telemundo owned stations fast tracks candidates with the right stuff to step right into a position at their stations. “We really should be growing our own,” said Dianne Hannes, creative services director at WMAQ, NBC’s Chicago O&O.
A one-of-its kind new program is quietly underway for the NBC/Telemundo O&O stations to find, groom, and place local TV marketing staff at their stations.
The NBC and Telemundo Owned Stations’ Marketing Promo Producer Program is a 12-month commitment that helps train the next generation of branding experts to fill important roles within the stations’ marketing departments.
Certainly, there is a need industry-wide, said Therese Gamba, NBC’s chief marketing officer and SVP of acquired programming.
“Working with the general managers here, it clearly showed how tough it is to find good people who have the skill set. It’s not just about cutting promos anymore. There are a lot of different machinations that go into it these days.”
“It was like, hey, we are not finding these people readily,” said Dianne Hannes, creative services director at WMAQ, the NBC O&O in Chicago. “We really should be growing our own.”
Why is it so hard to find local TV marketing people?
Unlike TV journalists, there are no college grads coming out with degrees in the field.
“Broadcast promotion isn’t taught with any rigor in the university,” said Hannes.
And people already with experience in local TV promotion tend to stay where they are.
“It is tough to get people to move,” said Gamba.
Plus, the job itself can be an impediment. The position requires highly specialized skills for frontline staff — writing, videography, computer editing, graphic animation, not to mention the right personality to interact with other departments.
“Working in TV creative services and promotions ends up touching every aspect of our business,” said Susan Solano Vila, VP of creative services and community affairs for WSCV, Telemundo 51 in Miami.
“We are working closely with news, with the community, with programming, we are doing public relations. We are wearing many hats.”
The Marketing Promo Producer Program isn’t an internship but a year-long working position to mentor and train qualified candidates to the specialized world of local TV news and station marketing.
“It is a full-time job with benefits and salary,” said Hannes. Her station, WMAQ Chicago, is the first where a graduate of the program is working full time.
“The whole idea of it was we wanted to find somebody that would work in every single department, interface with every department in the station exactly like a promo producer would,” said Hannes.
Hannes sent this spot from WMAQ as an example of the work done by the station’s promo associate who graduated from The Marketing Promo Producer Program.
The program places candidates in the Telemundo stations as well.
Vila is currently mentoring a candidate in the program at her station in Miami.
“Her first day was Dec. 1 of 2018. So she has only been with us for six weeks, seven, eight weeks at this point. There is not anywhere else that somebody can get both Spanish language and English language promotion exposure and experience.”
“We have developed a curriculum. It starts with how do you read a ratings book, so they understand the value of the program that they are writing in, why a promo in Ellen is different than a promo in Law & Order and what the tonality of it needs to be. Really get them to understand who they are writing for and who they are trying to reach. We really work on letting them master one area before we move on to another. Topical promo writing was the first area, and now let’s introduce how to do a weather spot, a community spot. And any given day could be completely different depending on what is happening with the news or if you are in sweeps or if you are in the middle of a big campaign.”
“It was great if they knew something about branding, research and now digital and social media as well,” said Hannes.
“It was kind of the skillset that we were looking for.”
With Gamba’s passion for the role of local TV marketing, it’s evident that NBC/Telemundo’s innovative program will continue to attract marketing candidates for its stations.
“I was a guest speaker talking to a bunch of news promo, and TV news producer candidates, and I started talking about where I started and what a promo producer does. I said if you want to be part of a news team and you like the energy of being in a newsroom, but you don’t think you want to be a reporter, a news writer or a person in management, come talk to me about the fabulous world of promo producing. You are constantly involved in what is going on, you get to be creative, and as I like to tell a lot of people, more people might see your promos than see the actual newscast or TV show.”