When it comes to local TV marketing and creative services, I can’t tell you how many times I get called by stations asking if I know of a writer/producer or a creative services director I can recommend. So based on my experiences as someone who’s hired quite a few people at the local TV level in marketing, and as someone who was a front-line writer/producer, creative services director and broadcast group VP of marketing, here are some thoughts about how stations should retain and recruit.
It doesn’t matter the market, the position or level of experience, from entry-level to the GM’s corner office, TV stations must always be thinking about recruitment.
Check any major broadcast company’s website, and you’ll see job openings listed by the hundreds for open positions in news, sales, marketing, engineering, etc.
Sinclair, for example, has more than 600 openings listed as of this month, including one for a creative services director at their station in Macon, Ga.
NOTE: Some broadcast companies have recruitment videos and throughout this column, I’ll share some of them.
Sure, some or many may have been filled already, but as those jobs get filled, more open up and must be filled.
I’d hate to be the person responsible for keeping that list up to date.
When it comes to local TV marketing and creative services, I can’t tell you how many times I get called by stations asking if I know of a writer/producer or a creative services director I can recommend.
So based on my experiences as someone who’s hired quite a few people at the local TV level in marketing, and as someone who was a front-line writer/producer, creative services director and broadcast group VP of marketing, here are some thoughts about how TV stations should retain and recruit.
Here’s a nightmare for you. You’re the GM and your creative services director tells you he’s accepted the CSD job across the street. Or you’re the CSD and your senior writer/producer informs you he/she is heading across town to another station for a few grand more a month.
That’s a killer scenario. In the case of a CSD/marketing manager, your competition gets someone who knows the market, and more importantly, all of your station’s intelligence that they can put to use for your competitor against you.
In the case of a marketing writer/producer/editor, the so-called preditor, you lose someone difficult to replace for the same money. If you hired and trained that person, you lose all that investment, and your competitor gains it. And your marketing product is unstable as you try to replace that person, a difficult task as the talent pool is small and many stations are looking.
In both cases, your competitor instantly gains. No ads, no moving costs, no lag time while the new hire gets his or her feet on the ground.
Stations need to do a better job of retaining key marketing personnel.
You’ve investing thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to train your people to be productive and just when you should be reaping those rewards, they up and cross the street or head out of town.
And you have to do it all over again, advertise, hire, move and train. Meanwhile, your product’s unstable, your staff is stressed and you realize that in the end, the money you’re going to spend to replace that key employee should have been used to retain them.
The new person is an unproven commodity no matter how much due diligence you did to vet them. It will take months for the new hire to be productive.
Retention of key employees is paramount in local TV marketing, but really in every category.
In almost every position I’ve held, even when I was a first-time writer/ producer, I worked under a personal services contract.
Where legal, have your key marketing people sign personal services contracts, especially the marketing director or creative services director. You’ll have to pony up with some money to entice them to do that, but if you don’t, you’ll spend that money anyway to replace them.
Preventing them from crossing the street to your competitor is worth whatever you spend, and that is the primary goal of getting them under a personal services contract.
And depending on the size market your station’s in, you can include an out in the contract that includes the top 10 or 20 markets.
Getting your people to sign a personal services contract usually requires a commitment from the corporate offices and certainly the GM, as usually there is a monetary consideration required as incentive to sign a personal services contract.
Some broadcast companies have a solid reputation when it comes to promoting from within.
In the case of marketing management, those broadcast companies have a system that encourages movement to larger markets. This is very important in retaining key marketing managers.
To retain key staff writer/producer/editors at your station and within your company, create a path to management to show how much you value them. Get them involved in decisionmaking, the budget, media spending, network and syndication relations, all the administrative duties that you can.
Sometimes, it’s not always about more money, but growth, opportunity and recognition.
Just as it’s devastating for your station to lose a key employee to another station in the same market, it’s outstanding to hire a key employee from a competing station to your shop.
For all the reasons it hurts them, it benefits you.
If you’re the GM and you just lost your CSD, is there a CSD at a competing station who’s a star?
Find out if they’re under contract. Perhaps a third party can contact that person for you.
If they are not under contract, I would start my search there.
Failing that, is there an assistant CSD at a competing station in the market that might work as a CSD at your shop.
If you’re the CSD, and you just lost your best preditor, start your search in your competitor’s shop.
Perhaps a third party can contact that person for you to determine their contract situation and interest.
Failing that, there are other places to check for talented writer/producer/editors within your market like small ad agencies, production houses and certainly local colleges.
I make no money from TVNewsCheck’s paid job postings. But when a marketing opening is advertised on TVNewsCheck’s job board, I do write a FREE Market Share column about the opening, the market, the lifestyle, the cost of living there in terms of housing and apartments, fun things to do in the area, etc.
I’m told those series of columns, under the “Picture Yourself” umbrella, get quite a few click-throughs to the ads.
When I was the VP of marketing for Nexstar, I traveled to every market where Nexstar owned a TV station, and discovered that every market had its charm. And it’s that charm that I try and capture.
Here are a few examples from the “Picture Yourself” series.
Picture Yourself In Memphis As Creative Services Director
Picture Yourself In Iowa As Marketing Director
Picture Yourself In Alaska As Marketing Director
Picture Yourself In Toledo As Promotions Manager
Live On This Yacht As Creative Services Director In Miami
Some stations have created videos that tout the merits of working at that station and in that market.
I think these videos should have sections that could be changed and updated to reflect whatever open positions the station currently has.
What is your company doing to retain and recruit marketing staff? Does your company have a recruitment video?
Does your station have a recruitment video?
Share your story of whatever efforts your company/station is doing to retain and recruit employees with me by contacting me at email@example.com or 817-578-6324.