10 tips to help you become the best TV Researcher

Hi Hi!

Those of you who have been with me from the start know how I came to find myself in London but those of you who are new – WELCOME! – may not know I moved to the big smoke to kickstart a career in television.  A few weeks back I went along to an event hosted by RTS Futures – the arm of the Royal Television Society aimed at helping new entrants to the industry make the most of opportunities that come their way.

RTS Futures is open to anyone who has been working in the TV industry for less than 2 years and is free to join.  They regularly host events in London and across the UK which you can check out here.  I’ve been to a couple of them now and it’s a great opportunity to pick the brains of the people who have paved the path for those coming up the telly ranks as well as meet likeminded folks you might like to collaborate with in the future.

The most recent event they hosted was about becoming the best TV Researcher and while I was there I made a few notes I thought I’d share here in case any of you are interested in dipping a toe in the telly pool.

1 LISTEN.  Listen to what’s being asked of you and respond accordingly.

2 KNOW YOUR SUBJECT MATTER.  If you’re not already an expert in the area you are researching make it your mission to become an expert in it.  If you’re doing casting research, (finding people to appear on TV), try to put yourself in the shoes of the person you are trying to find.  If you were them, where would you hang out?  What would you be interested in?

SOCIAL MEDIA IS GREAT BUT HUMANS ARE WONDERFUL  

3 PICK UP THE PHONE.  This was a really key message of the evening.  Anyone can send a tweet but it’s far better to pick up the phone and have a chat with someone to best find out about them.

4 READ NEWSPAPERS.  Daily.  And not just the newspaper you normally buy.  Read a selection and look out for interesting articles and people that might be brilliant on TV.  Check out reddit and Twitter too to see what’s trending.

5 FACT CHECK EVERYTHING.  If you don’t have total confidence in the accuracy of the information you are passing to the rest of your team stop and check it more thoroughly.  Not checking something properly can have consequences for colleagues who are relying on you to know your stuff.

6 IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE OWN UP.  Don’t bottle it up, especially if you think it’s a biggie.  The sooner you own up the sooner you and your team can work to fix it.

7 COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT.  If you’re not sure on something just ask.  However, do try and find out the answer yourself first.  Recognise that your fellow colleagues are time-poor and working to deadlines, as you are, so be considerate of their time by finding out what you can before approaching them.  If you still can’t find the answer don’t be afraid to ask for help.

8 DON’T PROMISE THINGS YOU CAN’T DELIVER.  A great thing about being a researcher is you get to interact and build relationships with lots of different people.  It can be tempting to promise something if you think it will encourage someone to want to appear in your show but unless you are certain you can deliver on it don’t do it.  It’s not fair to that person and you wouldn’t like someone to do it to you.  If people are gracious enough to give you their trust treat it well.

9 SOUND IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS THE IMAGE ON SCREEN.  If you’re asked to go on a recce,  (to meet a potential contributor or check out a filming location,) and you interview someone make sure you think of sound.  Is the location you want to film outdoors?  Is it on a flight path or near a busy road?  These things can really disrupt filming and make it hard to hear what your contributor is saying.  Coffee shops can be tricky too – huge fancy espresso machines are very noisy!

10 KEEP YOUR CV SHORT & SWEET.  Talent Managers receive a huge volume of CVs every day so keep your CV succinct and leave out any waffle.  List your key skills at the top and emphasise why you will be a great asset to the team that is hiring.  An employer wants to hear what you will bring to the job they are advertising not what your long term career goals are.

If you’re interested in working in TV I hope these tips are useful to you.  They came straight from the mouths of experienced Casting Execs, Producer / Directors, Researchers and Presenters so they’re worth a read through.  Look out for RTS Futures events happening in your area and get along to them if you can.  It’s a great opportunity to pick up tips from the experts but also to network and get on the radars of industry gurus.

The next RTS Futures event in London is the Summer Party on 16th July.  Click here for details.

See you next time!xx

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