Welcome to the PIT List!

I'm a network field producer who also worked in local tv as a line producer and field producer. Over the years, I have had the great fortune to work with super people. Now I'd like to pass along what I know and rant a tad.

"Dear Maggie..." pitlist@gmail.com
I check it sporadically, but I love answering emails, so if you have an issue or difficult person you need help with, don't hesitate to shoot it my way.

Maggie L

Maggie L
One of the rare times I'm in the office

Monday, February 23, 2009

Contracts and Negotiating Pay

I got an email about contracts so I thought I'd pass along some info I had in response to it.

I don't think contracts are a good idea for producers because producers don't get anything out of it. It's not like with an anchor contract where you can get more money or perks-- they're not paying you more because you're under contract. They just have peace of mind that you won't leave anytime soon. I get why News Directors like contracts. Producers are a hot commodity and they're likely to lose you if they don't sign you to a deal. That is not your problem. Your problem is trying to get the best deal for you-- and all of your negotiating power rests in the fact that you can get another job offer and leave. Don't give up that power lightly. I once had a station say they wouldn't even INTERVIEW me unless I agreed in principle to a 5-year contract. You know what I did? I said thanks so much and walked my act someplace else. I don't regret that decision one bit because I got plenty of offers after that one.

Instead of a contract, say you'll sign a no compete, meaning you can't walk across the street to work for the competition. If you must sign a contact, make it the shortest you can and leave yourself outs. What are outs? One example, on a two year deal, during the last six months, you're allowed "out" of the contract if you get an offer from a Top 20 market say... or your hometown... or a network. Make it as big a hole as you can for as long of the contract as possible.

YOU HAVE NEGOTIATING POWER!!! USE IT!! Don't be meek. Ask for more than you think they would ever in their right mind give you. You can always back off. Women especially have been proven, in general, to be poor negotiators. If you negotiate your first salary for 5,000 less than what someone else is getting, that might not seem like much, but when that first salary is used as a starting point for your next job, you can see how over a few jobs, you will get hosed big time.

While we're at it-- trying NOT to disclose what you are making currently. Instead, try to find out what producers are making in that market. Do that by asking anyone you know who works or has worked in that market. People gossip. Don't find out, as I did once, AFTER you've moved to a town... that a producer across the street is making 10 grand more than you. Or again in my case (same job), don't find out by watching a documentary, where a station in the same company was paying its producers 10 grand more. In a much smaller market. Ouch!!!!

No one will fight for you but you!!! And look-- you are valuable!!!! Get paid every penny of what you are worth because you will be working hard! REMEMBER: For every reporter opening, there are a million resumes. For every producer opening, even in big markets, a lot of times, there are just a handful of candidates.

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