Kristie Gonzales is promotion and digital brand manager at WABC-TV in New York City. She previously worked at stations in California and North Carolina. In this interview, conducted by email, Gonzales talks about her job, the relationship between news and promotions, and her advice for journalism students.
Q. Describe your job. What is your typical day like?
A. The first thing I do when I wake up is turn on “Eyewitness News This Morning” and “Good Morning America.” Before I arrive to work, I’ve posted on social media for abc7ny, and I have a good idea of what stories are trending that day.
Once I get to work, I attend our 9 a.m. news meeting to learn how we’re going to cover those stories. From there, I pow-wow with our promotion and digital producers to see how we can attract the most viewers to our various platforms. We are putting a lot of emphasis on expanding our social media video right now, on top of our regular on-air duties.
The rest of my time is spent working on image campaigns, various shoots and outside media spends. I take frequent social media breaks to listen to what our viewers are saying because they are the heartbeat of our operation.
It’s wonderful; I never get the chance to watch the clock in this job and no day is ever alike because you always have the possibility of breaking news.
Q. What is the relationship between news and promotions at TV stations like yours?
A. News and promotion are incredibly close and work hand-in-hand at WABC-TV. Our department attends news meetings and is expected to contribute story ideas and evaluate stories based on promotional appeal. I always tell our new interns that news tells the story, and we sell the story.
We try to be as educated as possible on what our viewers want from us, so there’s always a healthy discourse with our newsroom colleagues about how we craft our special reports. Plus, one of the more interesting aspects of promoting in social media is that it has virtually killed the tease. It’s forced us to be more like news because we are focusing on delivering solid content versus slick-sounding promises in our on-air pushes.
Q. Before going to New York in 2014, you worked at TV stations in Fresno, California, and Durham, North Carolina. How did those experiences in smaller markets help you in your current job?
A. I cannot overstate the importance of gaining experience if differently sized markets. Not only is it better to make your mistakes in front of half a million people instead of 20 million, but you will also learn different lessons in each market.
In Fresno, I learned you can do so much with so little. That prepared me to be a better steward of the larger budgets I encountered in top markets. If you can do your best with a crew of one or a crew of 30, you’re more prepared to handle whatever comes your way.
I’ve done almost every kind of production job in TV, and that’s made me a much better director and manager. You also don’t buy excuses because you know there are different ways of getting TV done.
Q. What advice do you have for student journalists?
A. I hope you don’t mind a list! These are the little nuggets I’ve been collecting and sharing over the years:
- Just scrub your social media clean. Plain and simple. You would think everyone knows this by now.
- Learn every possible media creation tool you can. I get hundreds of intern applications so I only look at candidates who can edit, write, shoot and have experience in social media.
- Take any foot in the door that you can get. You never know where it will lead! Walk through that open door.
- Don’t be afraid to move or take that first low-paying job. You’re smart – you‘ll figure out how to make it work!
- Come prepared. Do your homework before you ever walk in the door. That includes knowing the day’s news, the competition and who the talent and executives are.
- If you are looking for advice or a mentor, come with specific asks.
- Aspire to leadership. Our business needs more diversity behind the cameras in management.
- Follow me on social media and feel free to ask me anything, or shoot me an email!
UPDATE: In June 2016, Gonzales was named president and general manager of KVUE in Austin, Texas.