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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Deadly Guest Segments

We have all seen them. You are watching TV and they bring on a guest. Be prepared to take a nap for the next three minutes because that guy is deadly boring. The subject matter is something that catches no one's interest. And there's nothing but a talking head the entire segment. Snooze-fest.

Guest segments are easy filler. But take a couple of extra steps to make sure you're not losing viewers. Here's one of the biggest problems-- is this topic even guest worthy? Be honest-- ask yourself, "If this subject matter weren't in my show, would I actually pick up a magazine and read about it for three minutes? Would I listen to a three minute radio report on it?" If the answer is no, move on.

One of the ways you should decide whether something is guest worthy is whether or not it will lend itself to a good guest segment. Is there a demo? Are there props? Is there video? These things should be considered BEFORE you book the guest.

Also, consider the guest. How is this person over the phone? If they are dullsville over the phone, there will be no sudden transformation when they step into the studio. Cultivate good guests and maybe work them into a weekly or monthly segment. Lots of stations have chefs that come in regularly, but who else can you get? Look for guests who have that certain something and ask them back. I worked at a station that had a power house morning show. They had a guy who did garden segments-- out in the garden behind the station. There was a woman who could clean everything-- and took viewers calls on how to get tough stains out. And then of course there were movie reviewers, etc. How about a career counselor to take calls on tough employee/boss situations?

Guests can also add something to daily news coverage with a couple of big caveats. The subject matter has to be big enough so that people really want to know that much more (think big, breaking or ongoing stories). Keep the segments short-- just a minute or two. Make sure the guest is a good talker and actually has something to add to the party.

Finally, as a producer, you get a million PR pitches for guest segments. I would shy away from these. They can get really sneaky. They may pitch something that sounds good (party tips) but what they're really pitching is a particular product (this party item or items). Also-- remember-- you run the segment, not the guest.... you know TV, not the guest, so you have the final say on all aspects of the segment.

Don't Let this Happen to You

A reader in Arkansas sent this my way. A group of TV folks there made a video that made it to YouTube. Part of the video was shot in the newsroom. F-bombs are plentiful. You can read more about it here

We live in an age where it's really, really easy to make a video and post it. So be really, really careful before you post any pic or video.

Ask yourself:

1. Will this project reflect poorly on me or the station?
2. Would I be comfortable showing this to my boss? (Because they WILL see it. It's inevitable)
3. Would I be comfortable having a future boss judge me based solely on the content of this? (You may put a resume out and you never know why you didn't get a phone call back)
4. Would I want my mom to see this?

These rules extends to anything you put on Facebook, MySpace, etc. You may think this stuff is private, but it's not. When you take a job with a company, they own you. Anything you do can potentially impact their brand. It even extends beyond that---I had a friend fired because she was working a part-time waitressing job outside of work. Apparently, any outside employment had to be cleared in advance.

So be careful! Take a second to think before you do anything. What do you lose by not taking part in whatever it is? It's probably not as bad as losing your job.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oil Spill Coverage to Wane?

I saw this article and thought it was interesting. Now that well is capped, will coverage start to drop off?


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Key to Next Job? Say "Thanks"

I ran across an interesting article on what might tip the scales after your next job interview-- a simple thank-you note. Even an emailed one.

Here's the article.

I'd add to that. In addition to saying "thanks," you might want to include some follow-ups to the interview. Maybe add an interesting link about something you talked about. Perhaps some story ideas or ideas for the show for which you're interviewing. Can't hurt! And at the very least, you look classy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New Media Certificate

Maybe some of you just got out of school or maybe you already have these skills, but as someone who graduated, uh, a while ago-- and who has limited new media skills, there's a new program out of Ball State that looks interesting. It's a certificate program AND it's online. A lot of companies offer tuition reimbursement for classes that are job related but a lot of those dollars never get used because we all have schedules that can't accomodate classes. Well here you go: