TV managers weigh in on the difficulties of recruiting, especially when it comes to the most difficult job openings to fill in local TV — news producers, account executives and creative services writer/producers.
In a recent Market Share column, How To Boost Your Local TV Recruitment Success, I made some actionable suggestions about how TV stations could improve their recruitment efforts.
I admit that I’m not an expert in recruiting, nor do I know much about human resources. My suggestions are based on my experiences trying to hire staff in creative services, feedback I’m getting from station managers about their challenges finding qualified candidates, and thinking creatively about the power of your reach as a TV station and in social media.
Some of the most difficult job openings to fill in local TV are news producers, account executives and creative services writer/producers.
“No one wants to be a producer,” said Bernice Kearney Bonner, news director at KSAT, Graham Media’s ABC affiliate in San Antonio, Texas.
“Everyone wants to be on TV. And that’s unfortunate because producers are usually the ones in line to later run the shop. I’m a perfect example of that. I came up as a producer and now I’m running the newsroom.”
Recruiting, said Jim Doyle, founder of Doyle & Associates, a management consulting firm that works with many TV stations’ sales departments, is “the biggest issue we face.”
In a recent blog, Doyle said a sales manager told him how she has account executives who need to go because they’re under-performing. But she can’t find anyone to replace them. So she settles for mediocrity.
In creative services, Matt Lebowitz, creative services directorat WJAR, Sinclair’s NBC in Providence, R.I., said “managers definitely need to be proactive recruiters even when you don’t have an open position.”
Lebowitz said he found his last hire was already working at the station, in master control.
“By paying attention to the people who work all around me, being open to people, and listening to them, I was able to nab a great add to the staff.”
That’s a great first step, looking internally, but it’s not always that easy. Often, depending on the skill set, you have to go elsewhere.
“I know my newsroom isn’t alone in this,” said Kearney Bonner about the difficulty of hiring news producers.
“All of the news directors in this company talk about how there is a dire need for good producers and a need for us to cultivate them. We developed a producer trainee program because it’s easier to grow our own and really teach a young person who is interested in producing how to do so in a working newsroom than it is to find someone from outside.”
Growing your own can be the first part of creating a good staff, according to Doyle.
“Working with them to help them get the skills and experience they need to be better is critical. Succeed at that and you’ll have less need to recruit in the future.”
After you train them, said Doyle, the second part of your plan is to retain them. Retaining key employees can make the job of recruitment so much easier.
But the third part of the plan is to continue to recruit, to go out and find great people, whether you’re looking for a sales executive, a news producer or a creative services writer/producer.
“I never had a big problem recruiting,” said Lane Michaelsen, a group news director for Sinclair.
Michaelsen said he recruits almost every day by watching newscasts from smaller markets for good journalists and reviewing resumes, reels and providing feedback to potential hires.
One key, Michaelsen said, is to make “the job sound exciting, not dull and analytical.”
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