Case Study - Promotions Assistant
Alison is a promotions assistant with a small ITV company. After completing a design degree, she worked as an advertising copywriter and art director before landing her present job.
I work alongside the Head of Promotions, who has overall responsibility, and the Promotions Scheduler, who decides which promos will be shown in which slots. We are a small team - most ITV companies do have larger promotions departments - but then we make relatively fewer programs than most other companies.
We are responsible for any on-screen promotions that are broadcast. For example, you might have three minutes of airtime between programs, two of which could be taken up by commercials. That then leaves a minute which we would fill up with our own promotional material.
All the ITV companies link up by phone on a Tuesday, when we tell each other which programs we are putting out and what promotional material is available for those programs. We will then make a list of all the material we can access, and from that we'll decide which programs need most supporting. Then we'll get a copy of the relevant material and edit it in such a way that we have our own 30-second commercial for each program.
I would say that to work in promotions, you have to be creative, but you also have to be adaptable with your ideas; and you need to be able to take the most convoluted idea and turn it round very simply. You need to know what looks good on screen, and it also helps to have a good ear for music.
Really, what we are doing is advertising programs instead of products, with the ultimate aim of boosting viewing figures because more viewers ultimately make a television company more money. All we can ever hope to do in promotions is to generate interest and to get people to tune in to a program. They may, of course, turn over after five minutes, but if we have got them to the point of tuning in for it, then we have done our job.
Performers (actors, dancers, musicians etc) work on a contractual basis. Most of them hire an agent or manager to find them work and negotiate their contracts.
Case Study - Music Presenter
Paul is now a music presenter. After university, he decided to go into industry and he gained broadcasting experience working for a hospital radio station in Newcastle, which broadcast to ten hospitals in the area. Paul's regular job enabled him to travel extensively in the UK, and wherever he went he got to know the local radio station.
My hospital radio work was excellent training. I was determined to become a music presenter on a local station and sent out hundreds of letters and audition tapes, which were met with rejection upon rejection. Eventually one station offered me a series of training sessions and, as a result of these, I landed myself a freelance job on an overnight program.
After this, I was soon offered another program. Meanwhile, I was keeping an eye out for any openings within the company. I was offered holiday relief work which I managed to fit into my annual leave from my other job in industry.
A few months later I was offered a full-time presenter's job on a contract basis, so I left my job in industry. In fact, I think the experience I gained outside radio has been an advantage. My advice to anyone trying to get into radio is 'keep at it'. There are bound to be moments of despair as the rejections pour in, but determination is the only way to succeed. Competition for music presenters* jobs is extremely tough - there are thousands of would-be disc jockeys around the country, but there's only room for the good ones.
There's no such thing a^ a typical day in radio. My schedule depends on how many programs I'm responsible for in any one week. Generally, I have a three-hour afternoon program six days a week. I usually arrive at 9.30 and spend the first hour opening mail and making arrangements for it to be answered. Then I concentrate on the content of the afternoon's program, choosing the records and researching. Once the running order has been planned (the listing of the records and the timing of the program), I log the records for royalty purposes. After lunch, I usually spend the time before going on the air scanning the music press for interesting stories. Sometimes in this period before my program begins, I have to read advertisements or promote the station's activities.
My program runs from 3 pm till 6 pm. When it's over I clear the records and usually set off home by 6.30 pm.
On-Screen Promotions Staff
My job as an assistant in the stock department involves preparing the cosmetics for the artists both for studio make-up and on-location work, as well as ordering the necessary equipment and cosmetics and keeping up-to-date records of the accounts. Although the job is a junior position, I feel that it will eventually help me to achieve the job I want - more so, in fact, than if I had chosen to stay outside the industry until I was a little older. At the moment, I can see exactly what the job of a make-up artist involves, what cosmetics and effects are available, and the demands that the job makes on my colleagues. I am now in immediate contact with those who can best advise me. This seems to me an advantage I have over those outside the industry, so I am really hoping that I will be chosen for the training scheme.
The career openings in television are few, and in such a competitive field as television make-up it is often a case of getting in wherever you can. Although I can only continue doing a job of this nature for a limited time, it is up to me to do the best I can and with luck I will in the end become a make-up artist.
Weather forecasts are generally prepared and presented by qualified meteorologists, who see radio and television work as only a small part of their job. Some companies specialize in the production of television weather bulletins, such as International Weather Productions (who prepare the forecasts for GMTV and those which follow ITN's news programs on ITV) and The Weather Department (responsible for the bulletins on many of the regional ITV stations). Both companies employ very few staff, all of whom are highly trained and experienced, and are therefore not in a position to offer work experience.