Friday, September 25, 2009

Before targeting a market, do some research

A while back a female client got some interest from a certain market I knew to be primarily a war zone. I had done one story for the network there, and on that occasion we got a hotel in another town because we didn't feel safe parking the sat truck or our personal cars there overnight. She asked me what I thought of the market, and I said, "If you were my daughter, I wouldn't want you living there."

Many times I hear from young people who throw out names of markets they have as goals, and I think a lot of times people simply grab names they recognize. Just because a city is a big market, doesn't mean it's a great place to work or live. By the same token, you shouldn't discount cities in small markets that are great places to work and live.

It's nice to look at the market list and dream of working in one of the top markets. But you really need to do some homework before blindly sending out tapes. You need to do this in two areas.

First, do some research on the city itself. Along with the obvious stuff like cost of living and climate, consider important figures like the crime rate, as this may have a definite affect on the stories you cover. Does this market have the top murder rate in the country? Well, then, you might be covering nothing but crime every day. Does the market have almost no crime? You might be covering more substantial stories.

The second thing you need to research is the station itself, and lucky for you, many stations put their product on the internet. Before sending a tape to a particular station, watch their newscast. Is it solid, with the kind of stories you like to do? Or is it a bunch of flash and trash, with lousy photography from reporters who are obviously one man bands? Don't rank these according to their ratings, but according to the quality of the product.

I used to send out tapes blindly to places I knew nothing about. A few years ago I drove through a city to which I'd sent tapes and all I could think of was, "Why would anyone in their right mind want to live here?"

Doing research is even more important today since so many stations hire over the phone. And if you've ever been on a blind date, this is basically the same thing, except you don't have a friend fixing you up.

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