By Mark Willis, RTDNA Region 4 & 5 Director
Do you remember the phrase, “You've Got Mail?”
It's been used in movies, with AOL’S email service and a myriad of other ventures. The phrase is still relevant today. In this age of fast pace technology, the internet and email have given the listener and viewer a chance to send you a rapid electronic knock to your front door to tell you what you are doing right or what you are doing wrong. How do you answer?
We live in a world that requires instant response and even faster solutions because the world doesn’t wait for the 10 o'clock news anymore. You better be able to deliver because if you don’t your competition will always be a step ahead of you. How do you respond when people call the newsroom to voice their concerns about a story that aired? Do you shutter when they tell you how to do your job? Do you wish you called in sick when a lunatic fringe rings and wants to tell you about the end of the world?
Or when someone calls the newsroom, do you have the patience to listen to what they may have to say? Or when someone takes the time to email their thoughts, do you read all the way through it to make sure there is not some sliver of a news story that may have some relevance?
You should never take your viewers or listeners for granted. Never think for a second that they should be easily dismissed. Sure, you will get the occasional person that you will come to recognize by how they sound; they may be on the same rant and there is nothing new with their statements, but try to treat them with dignity and respect. If they become abusive or start hurling f-bombs over the phone, then the conversation is over. But if you take the time to talk with them, you will be able to develop a dialogue that may calm them down. If someone is really lighting your fuse, hand the phone off to someone else and let them take control of the conversation.
I had a General Manager call down to the newsroom I was working in a long time ago just to see how people answered the phone. Don’t think it can’t happen in your newsroom.
If you are like me, you want to hear from people that call or email your station. I had a case recently where a technology issue caused the same weather forecast to play over and over for several hours during the overnight hours. Not that big of a deal, right? Wrong. I had one person send me an email to let me know the weather forecast was repeating. Some people would think, okay, it’s the overnight, who cares? I do. I want the same type of quality and commitment to excellence 24 hours a day, 365. It matters to me what goes on the air day or night. I sent an email to that person and told them I really appreciated them getting in touch and told them how we were fixing the problem.
Remember, your television or radio station may mean the world to someone who relies on it as their source to the outside world. Treat every call and every email to the station like it was from your mom. Remember, “You've got mail.”
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