If you’re trying to make it on-air in broadcasting, that can be a daunting task no matter how you look at it. The job market is shrinking and those who actually have the talent level to be on-camera every day is limited…having said that, it is easier than ever to get your work out there and show off what you can do.
Thankfully, gone are the days of making VHS tapes or DVD copies of your demo reel and mailing them across the continent to anyone you can find an address of. That is both costly and terribly inefficient. Today, you can promote your work very easily and at very low cost using the free tools on the internet. The number one question I get from people is “how can I get on-air?”. The biggest thing is reps and getting noticed by the right people. You need to have the right mix of talent and luck. But those who are successful know, sometimes having talent creates luck.
I am constantly looking to interview people for this website…you cannot imagine how hard it is to find people’s email addresses! What if I was a hiring manager and wanted to reach out to you…if I can’t find an easy way to contact you, I’m sure they can’t either and we’re moving on to the next person. I get it, there are a lot of creeps out there and maybe you don’t want your email or phone number out on the internet for everyone in the world to have…no problem! Create a professional or work email separate from the one you use on a day to day basis that you can post publicly that you can use for this type of thing. Not too many of us in the industry at this point in our careers have agents or managers to help guide our careers. We need to be as proactive as possible in order to get our work in front of the right people and most importantly, we need those people to be able to contact us.
Below I will offer my tips on how to use free tools to get your name and face out there. While some may be pretty obvious, it’s amazing how many people forget to do some simple things that might help jump start their career!
Your Own Website
Creating your own website is quicker and easier than ever before. There are sites like Wix.com that let you create a pretty slick looking website for free and without having much HTML or any website building experience. On this website you can create a hub for your work and for people to reach out to you. You can create a blog (that you should maintain and update at least once a month), post work you’ve done and create a contact page for people to get in touch with you. If done properly, it will be the 1st thing that comes up on Google when someone searches your name and in addition to that, google will also take any photos you have and add them to their image directory. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic you’ll site will generate if you place links to your site on all your social media accounts. In addition to that, your website can be a place where you link TO your social media accounts and that can help grow your potential audience on a day to day basis.
YouTube is a fantastic place to promote yourself if building a website isn’t really your thing. You can create a channel for free and post as much or as little as you’d like. Keep your demo reel as fresh as possible and try not to keep it sit for longer than a year without a refresh. Make sure to put your contact info at both the start and the end of your demo as well as in the description box below. You won’t believe how many times I’ve seen someone put “My sports anchor demo reel” and that’s it! Put links to everything you have! Your twitter page, your Linkedin page…your email! Give people a way of getting in touch with you.
Social media can be your biggest friend or your worst enemy when it comes to getting noticed in this industry. Everyone Googles or searches for people on social media before they call or email you about anything. If you are reporting on local teams, tag them in your posts. A lot of smaller market teams can use as much press as they can get. You never know, they might even re-tweet you or link to your work on their website. Its a win/win for both you and them. While the Maple Leafs might not re-tweet your story on Nazem Kadri, the Marlies could very likely share your William Nylander piece.
With so many social media channels out there that it’s impossible not to be on one of them. The BIG 3 in my opinion are Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Those generate the most traffic to this site and have the highest conversion rate of views to clicks. Social media is a great way to both promote what you are doing and what you have done. Are you hosting a game on Rogers? Post on all your accounts that you are! But here’s the big thing, point people to where they can see you! Make sure you give the time, the channel, the link…everything they need to find it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone tweet about doing an event but not posing how I can watch it. If you are doing a RogersTV show, make sure to tweet out the link to the video when it’s posted to your social media accounts. Twitter moves fast, so post it a few times so people don’t miss it. You are spending a lot of time and effort (and money to get to and from events or the studio) so make it worth your while and make sure you’re making it as easy as possible to people to find your work. Twitter has a feature where you can ‘Pin’ something to the top of your feed, do that with your demo reel or something you are really proud of. That will be the first thing people see when they come and check out your profile.
Public perception is huge on social media. Make your profile pictures professional looking and DO NOT insult or post negative comments about anyone/anything on social media. Not only does it look petty, but you might have some explaining to do down the road if you have to interview Brendan Shanahan after blasting him on Twitter. When I post something that I know the public can see, I think to myself, what would my boss or future boss think if he saw this. My personal rule as well when it comes to social media is that I only post things that are positive about someone/something, a statement of fact (“The Leafs are 0-8-2 in their last 10 games…their worst stretch since 1976” may be negative but it’s a fact) or something that is promotional to either the company I work for or this website.
Linkedin is the most professional of all social media so it’s the place where it really should be easy to find your contact info. You can set your privacy levels and you accept who sees your content and who doesn’t. So make sure an email address is listed under your contact info. Make it as easy as you can for someone to reach out…and for the love of God, please have a professional picture on Linkedin! Mirror selfies should NEVER appear on your profile. I’ll have more on profile pictures later.
Also, when it comes to your bio on social media, make sure you have links to your demo reel, your website, your twitter account…anything that makes it easier for people to get to know you better and find your work. Outlets like Instagram or Snapchat are great as well to both promote and share your work. I know you cannot really place a link on those posts, but they are great to grow your ‘fan base’ and share your personal brand as much as possible…keep them as active and professional as possible.
These days, your profile picture is everywhere. Please, take some time and think about what you’re doing. Even on Facebook, which is more personal than other social media outlets, try and keep things professional. If you want to be on-air, you will have to get used to being in the public eye and that means that mirror selfie or shot of you kissing your significant other has to go. While you don’t have to go out there and spend hundreds of dollars on headshots, keep it classy and give off the image that you want the world to see.
A few insider tips on profile pictures. You can give the world whatever impression you want. Did you go for a tour at Sportsnet? Get a picture of you on the set looking like you are just about to do a highlight read. Make that your profile picture! It gives the impression that you work on-air there…even if you don’t or were only in the chair as long as it took to take the photo. While I’m not saying lie on your resume and say you are an anchor there, let people assume what they want to assume.
If you are out in the field doing an interview with a celebrity…get someone to take a picture of you interviewing them. It never hurts to have a little star power on your feed. Doing an internship? Ask a reporter to go on a report with them and get them to take your photo with the professional looking mic flash while you are in front of the ACC or City Hall. Fake it until you make it!
Shold Media Group
I know I am a little biased on this one, but SMG is a great tool to get your name and face out there. I highly encourage anyone who is interested in reaching out and having their story told to get in touch with me and share your story on this website. We can include your picture, experience you may have and even embed your demo reel into the article. From there I promote it on the SMG Facebook group, SMG Twitter account and my personal LinkedIn account. Not only does your story get told to the SMG community that is filled with industry professionals, it looks pretty good when someone Googles your name and something other than your Facebook profile shows up. By having an article or interview on the SMG website, it demonstrates to others in the field that you are actively taking time out of your day to promote yourself and your personal brand. Plus its always a nice little ego boost to share this kind of thing on your own Facebook feed! Also, don’t forget! You can post whatever you’d like in the SMG Facebook group, you never know who might see it!
While I know when you are starting out, it’s tough to make a great demo reel. You might feel as though covering local events or city council meetings might not give you a leg up on the competition. Here’s what you can do. Go down to the ACC and do your own reports/stand-ups simply for your demo reel. You don’t need to even go inside the venue. Do a stand-up from outside and do a throw like you were producing an actual report for Sportsnet or CBC. Then another day (or the same day in a wardrobe change), go to the Rogers Centre and do a fake stand-up about a Josh Donaldson signing. It’ll look great for your reel and it’ll give you some more practice doing that kind of thing. These days you don’t need tons of equipment, heck…my phone shoots in 4K! Just get out there with a friend or your little brother and get creating stuff for your reel!
If you are lucky enough to have a great internship somewhere, approach one of the reporters again and ask if you can tag a long on their report. When they are done, ask if you can do your own stand-up holding their mic. Once the story airs, take their report, put your own stand-up on it and re-voice it over with your own voice during the VO’s…it’ll look like you had a report on a national network. When you are sending your reel to somewhere down in the States, they don’t know what Sportsnet or RogersTV is, they just see you and a slick looking report showcasing your abilities.
If you take only one thing from this entire article, take this: Make it easy for people to find your work and contact you. Showcase your work as much as possible on your own website, youtube or social media. If you are spending the time and money to do a podcast or a show on Rogers, make it possible for people to see it. No one is going to hand you a job out of the blue, you need to give someone every opportunity to see what you can do and an easy way of getting in touch. Once you have something you are proud of, start sending it out! Email it to hiring manager or news directors. In one afternoon you can send your demo reel all across the world with a little research and a few Linkedin connections.
You can find me on Twitter @tshold
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