Entertainment Jobs Q&A: What Does a Promotions Assistant Do?

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Confused by some of the job descriptions you read? Never fear we’re here to help.

I don’t know about you, but to me, some of these job descriptions make roles seem more confusing than they really are.

For instance, calling someone a petroleum transport engineer instead of a gas station attendant, is confusing. Now that’s not the type of job we have on our site, but you get the drift.

Sometimes I wish instead of saying, “Create, sell-in and execute turn-key promotions with affiliates with the objective of securing incremental on-air promotion from local operators” you wish they’d just say, “Increase revenue by creating and executing promotions that add value to our affiliates.”

Was that so hard?

The majority of questions we’ve received lately for our Entertainment Jobs Q&A column have fit this format: “I think this job sounds interesting, and I think I can do it… can you explain to me what it really means?”

Trust me people, I feel your frustration. The writers of job descriptions need to go back to 5th grade lit class and be reminded to keep things clear and understandable. The best prose is lost on someone who doesn’t understand the root meaning. Job descriptions aren’t written to win awards, they need to provide clarity!

OK, rant complete. But now we segue into our teaching moment.

The Q:

Hi Brian, I really like the videos you’ve done recently explaining an entertainment job and providing more detail into the roles, requirements and responsibilities of the positions. I have one I’’d like to add to the mix – I see a lot of jobs for promotions producers both in TV and Radio, and I also see jobs for creative services… can you explain the roles a little better? I think they are perfect for me, but I don’t want to apply for them if they aren’t!

Katherine, Columbus Ohio

The A:

This is perfect Katherine, exactly what this forum and discussion area is for!

Let’s start with an explanation of the promotions world. So many jobs in the Television industry revolve around the news operation; gathering, reporting, assigning, shooting, editing, writing etc. Promotions are a group unto themselves, outside of the normal news production crew, but their role is just as important.

As you would imagine, the promotions department (often referred to as Creative Services to answer the second part of your question) produces and develops all of the short 15-30 second clips that generate momentum for the daily news programming.

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Adobe After Effects is an incredibly important tool in Television Production and Filmmaking

If there is a big political story being told later than night, the promotions department will develop what we would call a ‘hype reel’, to build enthusiasm and get people to tune back in later that night.

James Rafferty, statewide promotions manager for Montana Television Network, a group of seven CBS affiliates, explains how different his role is from a typical news position, “I always tell our news staff we have opposite jobs, their job is to tell people the who, what, when, where, why, and how.  Mine is to avoid telling them any of that, but give them a compelling reason to join us at 10:00 to get those details.”

The reason some stations prefer to use the term “creative services” is because the role also requires the creative development of elements which run during the news broadcasts. Think animation packages to open the show, transition graphics to get from one story to another, specialty themed background animations when covering a fire or flood or tornado.

If the station wins a few local Emmy’s the promotions or creative services department will come up with a quick 15 second spot highlighting the achievement – this is called a news image promo.

If there is a rash of floods happening in the area and your station has comprehensive coverage, the promotions or creative services department will come up with a package of spots in various lengths to highlight that night’s coverage – these are called news topical promos.

You get the idea.

Skills Required for Promotions Assistants and Producers

  • Writing. But this is not your typical writing technique this is TV writing where you have to be able to build enthusiasm while walking the fine line of telling too much. If you tell the whole story, no one watches the show. If you don’t tell enough, no one is interested.
  • Shooting. Especially at small stations, you’ll need to be able to gather all of the components to tell your part of the story. Being able to shoot video is essential, since  the staff photogs will be out shooting the stories that are on-going.
  • Editing. Non linear editing using programs like Adobe Premiere, Avid and/or Final Cut Pro. The good news is once you know one system learning the others is a piece of cake, just different keystrokes, the overall concept is the same. I learned on Quantel, and have since learned Avid, Adobe and FCP in just a matter of hours really.
  • After Effects. After Effects is a powerful digital motion graphics, visual effects and compositing application used in the post-production process. This is the software that makes TV shows look more professional than homemade YouTube videos. Master After Effects and you will always find work in TV.

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Who is a Fit for Promotions Assistants and Producer Jobs?

  • Must be strong at multi-tasking, anyone who produces content knows that there are a lot of balls in the air at all times. You’ll be writing copy, while setting up a shoot, booking an edit bay and trying to wrap your brain around how this finished product should look.
  • Detail oriented. This is not a position made for someone who is just creative and leaves the details to someone else. Every promo represents the station and goes towards credibility. In TV news, reputation is everything and accuracy determines reputations.
  • Flexible. This isn’t a 9-5 job; it will require holiday and weekend work, late nights and some local travel. To really make it in this field you have to e willing to do all aspects of the job whenever they are required.

If this role sounds interesting to you follow this link and you’ll see all of the jobs we have in the promotions/creative services world of TV!

If you have a question for us just add it to the comments below and it will appear in an upcoming Entertainment Jobs Q&A column!

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.