When it comes to teaching broadcast journalism, most schools tend to focus on reporting. Sure they teach video skills, too, and a few also prepare newscast producers, but there are many other jobs at TV news stations that rarely get a mention. One of those jobs is that of a news promotion producer.
“It’s fast-paced and ever changing without the stress created by live news coverage,” says Joe Doolittle, a promotion producer for WJTV in Jackson, Miss.
Doolittle describes his job as promoting the station’s brand and its newscasts, 10-to-30 seconds at a time.
“It fulfills a creative desire that you can’t get in traditional news jobs. You get to have more fun — it’s a different side of news.”
To work as a promotion producer, Doolittle says you have to know your market well so you can figure out what stories will grab and hold the audience’s attention.
“Most promos run during commercial breaks when people aren’t really watching,” says Doolittle. That pushes promotion producers hard to come up with innovative ways to “sell” stories, but it also creates some challenges.
“It’s hard to avoid giving away too much of the story, and then there’s the fear of over-selling it.”
So, what skills does a good promotion producer need? In addition to creativity, writing, shooting and editing, Doolittle says a knowledge of social media has become critical for success on the job.
“You have to know what makes people click or share.”
Beyond journalism courses, Doolittle suggests anyone interested in news promotions should also pick up some marketing or advertising classes.
“I took one marketing class; I never even thought about news promotions as a job.”
Now that he’s got it, Doolittle is a happy man.
“It’s nice to have a job I genuinely enjoy and one that challenges me, keeps me on my toes and is fulfilling.”