Monday, August 20, 2012

Top reasons you're not getting any calls

In a few weeks the fall hiring season begins. Right after Labor Day, News Directors need to start filling those openings so the new people will be in place for the November book.

So, if you've been sending out tapes all summer and have heard nothing, fear not. Your phone may start ringing soon.

But if it doesn't and continues to stay silent the rest of the year, there are various reasons that's happening. Some of which have to do with the quality of your work, some not.

-Your montage isn't grabbing anyone's attention. That first clip of your resume tape had better be your best work, or the eject button is hit. Keep in mind that your best clip might not coincide with your best story. That standup from your first package might not be as good as that killer live shot you did for a piece that isn't even on your tape.

-Your packages are ordinary. Scanner pieces, too many talking heads, and poor editing are all culprits, but if you don't have a memorable package, you might not be making the short list.

-Bad timing. This is perhaps the number one culprit after lack of talent. You're a woman and they need a guy, or vice versa. You're a perky morning type anchor and they need a serious one with more gravitas, or vice versa. You're too young and they want old, or vice versa. You don't fit the demographic they're looking for. You're too expensive. You're too expensive to move.

-No talent. Self explanatory.

-Obvious errors on your resume tape. Mispronunciations, bad grammar, etc.

-You're so talented they know you won't stay long. (Don't laugh, it's true.)

-You're not local and they know a person from New York won't stay long in Palookaville, so they're looking for local talent who will be happy with a town in which a Friday night trip to Wal-Mart is considered entertainment.

-Upper management or corporate overrules News Director. Very often people who have no experience whatsoever in the news business are making these decisions. A ND may love your tape, but it doesn't get past the higher-ups.

-Bad wardrobe and/or sloppy appearance.

-Voice problems.

-Errors on your cover letter. Misspelling the ND's name, addressing it to the wrong station, grammatical errors in the letter.

-You called and the ad said "no phone calls."

Remember, those pesky stars always have to align. You may have a terrific tape, but it just needs to find the right home.



Anonymous said...

I'm currently in the running for a feature reporter job - may include some weather anchoring too(which scares the crap outta me). Do you think being a feature reporter for 2 years will reduce the possibility of moving on to another station after my contract is up? Meaning, I will have very little experience in reporting hard news. This would be my first reporting job by the way.

-The Grape said...

Good question, as I spent most of my career doing features and also did weather.

Feature reporting is a double edged sword... it's the best gig in the newsroom with little pressure, and you get to stretch your storytelling skills.

The downside hit me in 1990 when every consultant in America issued a directive to get rid of feature reporters. There I was stuck without a news tape.

As for weather, it makes you more marketable, as very few weather people can report.

Bottom line, features have been coming back, and my "storyteller" clients have gotten very good jobs in the last year. But it's really hard to predict anything. It depends on where you see yourself long term.

Of course, if that first job comes with a photog, I'd grab it and take my chances.

Anonymous said...

It does come with a photog! And I bet I can sneak my way into a few hard news stories ; ) well, maybe... Thanks for the advice!

Anonymous said...

If this is going to be your first reporting job, I'd say take that foot in the door while you can. You'll get hard news opportunities. At the least, the ND will have you do hard news on days when people are sick/on vacation or there's short staff, and they need you to fill the 'A' block.