Here's the countdown: media buyers, researchers and advertisers have about another 18 presentations this week. This is on top of seemingly endless cable upfront and New- Front announcements that they’ve been inundated with since March.
The upfronts are here, all right. To help you make it through, here’s a 10-point advice list on how to get through this final week of events.
1 Try to get to the gym and get a good night’s sleep. It’s vital to keep your energy up as you travel through several presentations per day.
2 Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. Your diet should be rich in protein. Stay away from empty carbs that will make you tired. The last thing you need is to be seen taking an involuntary nap. Remember: The person sitting next to you doesn’t want to be your pillow.
3 Make sure to wear or bring along some comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking and will be on your feet during the after-parties and client dinners. You can’t be dressed for success if you’re limping.
4 Sales and programming chiefs will be spinning their ratings numbers so much that you will get dizzy. My advice? Don’t listen! For example, you’ll be hearing about NBC’s triumphant return to first place in adults 18-49. Of course these numbers are largely due to Sunday Night Football, the Winter Olympics and The Voice. The far more important factor to consider, however, is how do the networks stack up based on the health of their scripted series, which is the backbone of every schedule? How many of their freshman series will get a sophomore season? While content providers will be touting liveplus- seven numbers, buyers and advertisers will be weighing the benefits of going with C3 or C7. So be selective in your hearing.
5 If you find yourself getting bored during the presentation, you can amuse yourself by keeping tracking of buzzwords and tiresome clichés. It’s amazing how many times you will hear the words “momentum,” “hits,” “stability” and “this was our best-testing comedy pilot in years.”
6 While watching clips of new series, keep an open mind and avoid snap judgments. Many shows do not clip well, especially comedies. Sometimes, the opposite is true: Shows that appeared to be just meh from a clip turned out to be amazing when watching the full pilot. Fox’s 24 is a perfect example. The idea of an action-adventure series with episodes taking place in real time was too much of a high concept for buyers to grasp from a two-minute clip.
7 It’s critical to watch the pilots and think about how the series could sustain itself over multiple episodes. Watch pilots with the intended target audiencein mind. It’s not about you. Avoid getting caught up in the availability of a networks’ content across multiple platforms. The decision to access content wherever, however and whenever is dependent on the desirability of the content. In other words, is the program binge-worthy or cringe-worthy?
8 Be aware of announcements of series that have yet to have a cast attached. In many instances these shows will never see the light of day. As a corollary, be wary of shows that are being promoted based on the stars attached. It’s been demonstrated time and time again that big stars don’t necessarily equal great shows, but great shows often create big stars.
9 General-admission venues mean first-come, first-served. Do not ask your assistants to save five rows of seats. It’s rude and obnoxious and you are putting them in harm’s way. New Rule: Effective immediately, seat-saving will have a one-row maximum.
10 For those of you who are just getting into the business, keep in mind that you are representing your company at a business function. Open bars are not an invitation to drink until you are fall-down drunk. You will not only embarrass yourself, but you will also embarrass your boss and your company. Trust me, you will forever be haunted by that viral video of you looking stupid. Your reputation will likely sustain permanent damage, and you run the risk of never eating lunch in this town again.
Shari Anne Brill is president/CEO of Shari Anne Brill Media.
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