Friday, April 3, 2009

Mailbag: What are the rules of a hiring freeze?


Our company announced a hiring freeze a while back but recently our main weatherman left and they hired a replacement. Yet when we want to hire another photog since we're shorthanded, we're told there's a freeze. What gives?

Well, hiring freezes aren't exactly like congressional amendments. Corporate can do anything it wants, depending on the situation.

In your station's case, management feels it can get by with one less shooter but cannot put on a newscast without a main weatherperson.

Most times I've seen hiring freezes, they do not pertain to replacing people who leave. But it all depends on the situation and the company.

Hey, maybe your new weather person will pick up a camera...


When an ad asks you to send your tape to Human Resources, do you address your cover letter to that person?

Nope. Find out the name of the ND and address the letter to that person. The HR people pretty much log the tapes and applications that come in. I've never seen an HR person have any input into the hiring process on the talent evaluation level.

By the way, all of the info collected by the HR people is sent to Washington DC, where it is put into that giant warehouse seen in the first Indiana Jones movie.


You've always told us to send thank you notes after an interview, but what do you say in those notes?

Keep it short, sweet, and handwritten. And don't waste time getting them in the mail. (Snail mail, NOT email.)

Dear (name),

Thank you so much for the hospitality on my recent visit to your station. It was nice meeting you and the staff, and I'm very excited about the opportunities there.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Green Eyed Monsters: available at a conveniently located small market near you

About twenty years ago I'd just started at a new station. My first day was a Monday, and at the end of the day I was headed out of the newsroom when the Assignment Editor stopped me.

"You find an apartment?" he asked.

"Yeah, but it's not ready yet. I'm still in the hotel."

"Then why don't you come by for dinner and watch Monday Night Football with me?"

Nice, I thought.

On Tuesday the reporter at the next desk asked me if I'd gotten moved in yet. When I told him no, he said, "Well, you're having dinner with me."

That's the way to welcome someone new to your station. You're in a new city, don't know anyone, your dishes aren't unpacked and you're still a little nervous about your new work surroundings.

But lately so many clients are telling me they are being welcomed to new jobs as if they are lepers. And most of this occurs in small markets. Shakespeare called jealousy a green eyed monster, and he was dead-on with that one. The monster is rearing its ugly head with the young generation, and I think I know why.

The new generation of reporters has been raised never having been told "no" by parents. (And yes, that is the fault of my generation.) When they've been in competition, no one ever "loses" as "everyone is a winner." And then they get out into the real world and can't deal with a ND who says "no" for whatever reason. When they come in second for that promotion, they find that not everyone gets a ribbon just for participating.

Welcome to the party, pal. Real life aint fair.

And when that "no" concerns a job for which they are passed over, they turn their venom to the person who got the position. Here's the typical scenario. Job opens up, everyone in the newsroom wants it, News Director hires from the outside.

The fallout: "Let's make the new person miserable."

I'm amazed at the calls I receive from young people who get venomous comments from people they barely know. Cutting remarks on appearance, style, and reporting skills are common from people who are barely out of college. They cut down any story idea pitched by the new person.

The result, the new person goes into a shell, finds a better job in a year or two. The jealous people are still stuck, now wishing they'd been nicer to the people who might be able to help them escape. You think the person they abused will have anything nice to say about them?

This is a very small business, and one in which connections are key. People that you cut down could be in a position to help you down the road... if you're nice to them and welcome them to the station with open arms.

Time to bury the green eyed monster, kids. There will always be someone with seemingly less talent who makes more money, has a better job, and seems to get all the breaks.

Might be nice if that person were your friend instead of your enemy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Big Brother is everywhere

Privacy is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

With cell phone cameras everywhere, anything and everything you do in public is now fair game for the Internet. Doesn't matter if what you see is true or taken out of context, if you do something in public, it can really go public.

A good example is the story regarding the video of what someone claimed to be Joe Biden's daughter that was being shopped over the weekend. It doesn't really matter if the person in the video was her or not; her name has already been dragged through the gutter. If the woman in the video turns out to be someone else, half the people who heard the original story will have missed the follow up. The end result is the same. How many of you noted that the lawyer trying to sell the tape has suddenly stopped trying? (That guy better get ready for a gang audit from the IRS.)

We all saw what happened to Michael Phelps a while back. One photo cost him millions and a ton of credibility.

The point today is not to lecture anyone on what you can and cannot do in your personal life. That's your decision. The point is that you need to be aware that if you're a public figure, anything questionable you might do could end up on the Internet and cost you your career. Anytime you're in public and recognized, people are watching you. And these days, someone may be taping you.

1984 is here, big time. Be very, very careful of your conduct in public. People love success yet worship a fall.