Starting on a different foot…exploring the shortage of Topical Producers. Fear not…there’s answers to all problems. In Part 2…but today, let’s go over what’s happening.
A good Topical producer is getting to be a rare commodity. No, wait, let’s rephrase. A good Topical producer who is willing to move to a new station is getting to be a rare commodity. There are scads of amazingly talented Topical producers working every single day and they deserve the biggest Well Dunne! one can bestow.
But when a Creative Services Director/Marketing Director/Promo Manager/All-Round Marketing Wrangler finds themselves in need of good Topical producers, replacing a lost member of their team promises to be a tough slog. Why is that? Why have Topicals become so hard to find?
1 – Burnout
Never met a Topical producer that didn’t love news, didn’t feel their blood rush when a big story was breaking, didn’t want to come up with the most enticing promo every time. They burn bright. But burning bright isn’t what one can do in the long run. Hours are tough…hard to have a social life when ‘after work’ means 1am and a breakfast date is what most people call a late lunch.
2 – Career Path
The upward trajectory of TV marketing people usually puts Topicals at the bottom rung of the ladder, so climbing upwards should be a breeze, right? Maybe that in itself is a red flag that could use some creative problem solving. Topicals are responsible for the most expensive and crucial air times – and they do it day after day. And because they are so good at their jobs, giving out a promotion where they don’t do Topicals anymore means replacing them. See the Catch 22 there? Does anyone knowingly hit himself or herself with the aggravation hammer?
3 – Money
Free market forces call for prices to rise when shortages occur. Happens in your sales department. Perhaps it needs to happen in the creative department. When was the last time the base salary for a Topical went up more than a mandated 2-3%, even when money was the reason you lost Topical producer possibles over and over?
4 – Respect
Perhaps the root problem begins in Journalism school, but overall, many News personnel don’t show respect for the Topical promotion people, despite the goal of both being more viewers. Perhaps it rests in the way News people process language. If a Topical writes ‘it’s raining cats and dogs outside’ a newsie would give them a blank stare and say ‘there are no dogs or cats falling from the sky…change that.” Oh my. They just aren’t on the same page.
5 – Reluctance to Promote from Within
Big chains have stations in all size markets, and the progression of smaller to larger market would be the ideal situation for Topical producers where one market would fill another’s opening. There’s a reluctance to put a fellow company CSDs in the position of having to fill a Topical at their station. This frustrates everybody involved.
All doom and gloom? No…Doesn’t need to be. Part 2 of this will go over possibilities to make it all better. Stay tuned.
Think About This: "I’ve got to admit it’s getting better. It’s a little better all the time." ~ Paul McCartney