Friday, June 29, 2012

Yet another market size myth... all markets are not created equal

Ever heard of Las Vegas? Memphis? New Orleans?

Sure you have. They are big cities, so well known you don't need to tell viewers what state they're in.

Now, ever heard of Spartanburg? How about Anderson?

Unless you've spent time in the deep south, you probably haven't. But those towns, get this, are bigger markets than the three cities mentioned above. Yet when you think of going to a bigger market, you never think of towns like this.

How is this possible? How is the town of Anderson, South Carolina, a town of 27 thousand people, a bigger market than Las Vegas, home of nearly six hundred thousand?

The answer is that markets are often geographical. In the case of Spartanburg and Anderson, they are South Carolina towns that are part of a large geographical area that doesn't really contain a big city. In the case of Las Vegas, there's really nothing once you get outside of Vegas. The market is Vegas, and that's it. Bottom line, there are more viewers if you add up all the small towns in that South Carolina market than in the city of Las Vegas.

So Vegas is market 40 and those South Carolina towns are part of market 37.

There are also small towns that are adjacent to big markets. Lawrence, Kansas is part of the Kansas City market. But no one would ever consider that town a big market.

Every market is different. You may think big market equals big city experience, but that is not always the case.

Remember, markets are nothing more than numbers. There are some smaller markets that are wonderful places to live and large markets that are the ninth circle of hell. Some big cities are in smaller markets than small towns.

When shopping for a new job, don't just consider the number. Consider what qualities that market holds.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An agent works for you, not the other way around

Employer: Someone who hires people to do a job.

Employee: Someone who gets paid to do a job.

Got that? It's a basic concept many people in this business fail to grasp. Let me make it even clearer. If an agent gets a job for you, he gets paid. Hence, he is the employee. He works for you, the employer.

But what I continue to hear is that news people are often letting the roles get reversed, letting agents dictate what jobs they take.

Here's a typical scenario. Reporter gets an agent. Agent asks what the reporter is looking for. Reporter says, "I'm from Florida. I hate the cold and the Midwest bores the hell out of me. And I never want to shoot my own video again."

A few weeks later the agent calls. "I have a job offer for you. One man band in Indianapolis."

But before the reporter tells the agent that isn't what he wants, the agent follows up with, "You really need to take this job. It's a great career move."

And the reporter takes the job even though he'll freeze his tail off and be bored out of his mind. Why? Because he assumes the agent is smart and knows what's best.

Yeah, what's best for the agent. Because, and don't ever forget this, if the agent doesn't find you a job, he doesn't get a commission.

Agents push people into jobs they really don't want all the time. This is especially true if the agent has been shopping a client for awhile. The agent gets frustrated, worries that he's spent a lot of time and postage, and wants a commission. Any commission. So the agent gets pushy, starts arguing with the client, doing whatever it takes to make the client take the job.

And get a commission.

Look, there are great agents out there along with the bad ones. But a great agent listens to what you want and tries to get it for you. You must be very specific when dealing with an agent. Tell the agent what you want and what you don't want.

As for thinking agents know more about the business than you do, don't let the title fool you. Anyone can hang out a shingle and call himself an agent. I can do it. You can do it. Even people with no experience in the industry can do it. There's no regulatory agency, like the NFL has for agents. And while many agents do have a ton of experience in the business, some have no clue and are simply in it for the commission.

Bottom line, the agent is your employee. You're paying him for a service, and when you pay someone to do something, you want it done in a certain way.

Only you know what's best for you. Just make sure any agent you deal with knows it as well.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grapevine honor roll: chicken salad division

This package is from my old photog Rick Portier who shot wonderful stories for me. Now he's shooting them for himself in Louisiana.

Anyway, Rick got what I lovingly call a "chicken salad" assignment; that's when you have to make chicken salad out of chicken droppings. (Our language was more colorful in the newsroom, of course.)

Anyway, here's an example of taking what could have been a boring man in the street story into something clever using simple math.

Meanwhile, keep the stories coming...


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hurricane forecast vs. dart board

Seriously, have we ever seen a more nebulous weather prediction than the one about Debby? It might go to might go to Florida.

I have pasted a hurricane tracking chart to my dartboard... and the storm will make landfall at...


We'll see how the dart fares vs. the forecast.