Navigating through crisis as a young broadcast professional

Young Professionals
Cory Gylock

If you’re a young professional like myself, you find yourself in a situation that is surely unlike anything else you’ve had to face professionally. We certainly weren’t working during 9/11 (I was in my 6th grade D.A.R.E. class) and we most likely were not broadcasting during the 2008 Great Recession.

So how do we operate in this “new normal?” How do we, as YPs in the broadcast industry, step up and display leadership when we have no experience navigating through these unprecedented times?

Here’s several thoughts that have helped me lead through these challenging weeks with confidence and composure:

  1. Recognize that we are in this together
    The simple truth is we’re all figuring this out as we go and that is okay. From the President and his Task Force down to us local broadcasters, none of us really know for certain what tomorrow is going to look like let alone next week, month, year. There is no silver bullet. Nobody has the secret solution. We’re all in this together. All we can focus on is today. Make the most out of your situation, whether you’re working remotely or still heading into the office.

  2. Focus on what you can control, not what you cannot
    I’ve found an incredible level of peace in focusing on the things that I can govern. Right now, the news around the world can gobble you up and spit you out with things that you have no control over. Staying informed is important (see No. 4) but it’s not what should drive your professional decision making. What can you control today to make this a productive/successful day?
  3. Find the opportunity
    This is probably more of a sales/creative services-related broadcast topic than news because obviously news has no shortage of story opportunities. I’ll admit, a couple weeks ago finding opportunities to sell in this broadcast environment was a topic I was incredibly concerned about, but once I shifted my mind from the shock phase to the solutions phase I realized that there is no shortage of opportunity for our clients right now. Now more than ever, people are turning to broadcast. What are your clients doing to capitalize on this large and uniquely engaged audience? One of my favorite all time TV show quotes is “Chaos is a ladder” (Game of Thrones). I certainly don’t advocate anyone embrace that level of insensitivity towards this pandemic, nor am I suggesting that I have that level of sensitivity. However, the central point in that quote, when boiled down to a humane and respectable level, is that unique opportunities present themselves in times of crisis. This is a tremendous time for our clients (and our stations for that matter) to build brand. We here at FOX 25/48 have been pumping out PSAs, both sponsorable and not, supporting Shopping Local, #TakeOutTuesday, Salute to Frontline COVID 19 Professionals, etc. This is a great opportunity for you to reinforce your importance as a broadcaster and if a client wants to use your megaphone (that is TV and radio) and pay to join in on that message then all the merrier!

  4. Stay informed
    The level of misinformation out there right now is nauseating. Staying informed has allowed me to be a solutions-provider for my sales team and thus my sales team for their clients. It’s important to balance this. Stay informed but don’t let the news dominate your day. Remain calm, stay level, and provide answers for the less-informed.

  5. Stay the course, stay in broadcast
    No great story ever lacked for adversity. These are hard times for broadcasters no doubt. If you’re in news, your inundated with topics, working around the clock, working remotely, it’s challenging and draining. If you’re in sales, you’re watching your commission fall off a cliff. You’re searching for answers but a light at the end of the tunnel seems to keep moving further and further away. I’m here to tell you that the light IS at the end of the tunnel. Stick with it. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll be a much better professional for it. Even if you don’t see yourself being a broadcaster for the rest of your career, if you stick with this until we make it to the other side, you’ll never struggle for an answer to the famous interview question “What was your biggest professional challenge and how did you overcome it?” It’s very easy to look around for other opportunity right now but stay the course. Our time to step up as broadcasters is right now. As long as you love what you do, do not run from that challenge.

  6. We, as broadcasters, are essential now more than ever
    In times of tragedy and uncertainty, people turn to broadcast more than ever before. If that doesn’t psych you up to help keep your community informed (news), help clients find solutions in challenging times (sales/traffic), or produce uplifting and motivational creative (creative services), then I don’t know what will! We are broadcasters. We are essential always, but now more than ever, and together we will get through this. We will lead our communities through providing solutions, keeping our citizens informed, and sharing motivational messages of hope. When others don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, be the light at the end of the tunnel for them. God bless.

Cory Gylock, WLWX-TV, La Crosse