Monday, January 5, 2015

Erin Como Reveals Her Timeless Model for Success

"I'll never forget the feel of excitement in the air." - Erin Como 

Interview by Sean O'Brien  

I had the opportunity to interview Erin Como, who is a reporter for Fox 17 Nashville.
As she shared her experiences with me, it quickly became apparent why she has rapidly achieved success in a very competitive media world.
From Como's earliest childhood days, through her education and diversified work experience, she consistently mentioned how she liked helping people. Every truly accomplished person who I have ever met has always noted that same point.
And with that, her story begins...
Hello Philly
Como's family moved from Richmond, Va., to Bensalem, Pa., when she was four-years-old.
Her father David Como, who is a licensed clinical social worker, became an Administrator for the Philadelphia's Northeast Community Center.
Her mother, Patricia Trautman Como, became a Director at Head Start.
She has one older sister, Leah, who is married and is a fifth grade teacher in Havertown, Pa.
Como recalls that her parents read the newspaper every day when she was growing up. The day's events would often be discussed at dinner each night.
"My parents always wanted to know what my sister and I thought about what was going on in the world," Como said.
"Because they were always trying to help people to better themselves, keeping up with the world around them was important to them."
Building her foundation
Her parents influence clearly helped form her social consciousness.
"I always enjoyed organizing parties and events when I was little. When I was in fifth grade, I remember starting a club. When we had a talent show in seventh grade, I asked the teacher if I could host it.
"I was President of my class and the anchor of our television network through all four years at Bensalem High School."
Como would often help her father obtain food donations for the Community Center. She also volunteered for four years on the Oxford Valley Mall Teen Board.
Teen Board programs were first started by Rainbow Promotions in East Coast regional malls in 1990. They provide volunteer and educational opportunities for young men and women, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, to represent and work with local malls to produce fashion shows, create special events and participate in community service projects.
Because of her close family ties, it was natural that Como chose to enroll at Temple University.
"I wanted to go to a school that allowed me to go home for dinner on Sundays.
"In the back of my mind I wasn't sure if I wanted to become lawyer, so I double-majored in Broadcast Journalism and English."
She worked as a legal assistant at a law office in Center City, Philadelphia during her junior year. But, the boredom that she felt made her realize that she needed to pursue a more interesting career path.
During her senior year she interned for Jeff Kolakowski, who was the Assignment Manager at CBS 3.
"I worked on the news desk and went out twice a week to work with their nightside reporters.
"One time I went with Walt Hunter (who is a veteran investigative reporter) to a meth lab bust. I'll never forget the feel of excitement in the air. That was where I fell in love with breaking news."
Because she was a double-major, Como also took a second internship. She did that at NBC 10 during the summer of 2006.
Collegiate scholars
Como graduated in the top ten percent of her class at Temple, with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Broadcast Journalism and English. Her accomplishment earned her a place in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
"NBC 10 Philadelphia offered me a position as a production assistant in September 2006, and promoted me to weekend overnight assignment editor in January 2007.
"I was just turning 23-years-old and had to work from midnight to 9am. I made a decision to choose my career over a busy social life."
Her internship experience, combined with past marketing positions and work as a promotional model, allowed for a smooth transition into a full-time career in broadcast journalism.
Professional experience
Como performed a variety of behind-the-scenes roles during her first year on the job. She ran news scripts into the studio for the 4, 5 and 6 o'clock newscasts, assisted at the assignment desk, welcomed guests to the studio and answered phones.
She also served as Tracy Davidson's intern, in her consumer department, and helped to field produce the stations 'Backyard Weather' segments with Doug Kammerer.
"There is so much research and time that goes into a newscast. Research must be done, facts need to be checked, sources have to be contacted.
"As a weekend overnight assignment editor and field producer, I was learning the business from the ground up."
Get-it-done attitude
Producing television news is a never-ending grind and consistent hard work is needed to produce excellent on-air results.
"You are helping people to get their product on the air, so you have to have a get-it-done attitude.
"You always need to ask yourself questions like: Who can I call? What facts can we check to enhance the story? Can we interview someone who no one else has thought of? Can we contact a witness, or find an element, to make the story into an exclusive?"
After a year of consistently producing solid results, Como became a full-time overnight assignment editor. That position gave her the responsibility of processing all overnight breaking news and preparing stories for the morning reporters.
Within another year, she became a daytime planning and assignment editor.
Professional mentors
"I've been really lucky to have worked with a lot of people who have been very helpful and have wanted to see me succeed."
One of Como's career mentors has been Dawn Timmeney, NBC 10 Philadelphia's Emmy-winning news anchor, who she credits with helping to develop her own broadcasting abilities.
Camille Cwienkala is another individual who she acknowledged as being key to her development as a journalist. Cwienkala, currently is Director of Operations at LNS (Local News Service) and was a former assignment manager at NBC10 Philadelphia when Como first began working.
"Camille is so smart and hard working. She showed me how to be an assignment editor and also helped me to develop my own on-air presence."
Chris Blackman, who is the News Director at NBC 10, is another of Como's mentors.
"He is so accessible and such a talented leader. Three years ago, I showed him a tape when I auditioned to be a traffic reporter. He was honest and told me that I was not ready at that time. So, I asked him what I could do to improve."
Erin Como Reveals Her Timeless Model for Success - Part 2

"People want to feel that what they are doing in the world matters." - Erin ComoThe mark of a professionalComo used Chris Blackman's advice about enhancing her on-air presence as a learning experience.
In addition to taking voice lessons, she gained on-air experience by working for in 2008. She began hosting 'Down the Shore', which is the website's internet-based information series that is set at various New Jersey shore points.
Those experiences helped her to build a better on-camera presence, find her broadcast voice and to hone her reporting skills.
"I was confident behind the scenes, but I had been somewhat shy on air. I learned to be persistent and to not give up," Como said.
"Chris always made time to critique the tapes that I gave him. Then, last summer, he said that I was ready to audition again for the traffic position."
In March 2011, she began filling in part-time and is now NBC 10 Philadelphia's weekend shore traffic reporter.
As a result of her efforts over the years, Como has been honored with two NBC Ovation awards. In November 2007, she was recognized for her outstanding team work. In November 2008, she was recognized for use of imagination in her work.
Work ethic"I've learned that being persistent, working hard and never turning down an opportunity can lead to success."
In the summer of 2010, Como worked full-time at the NBC 10 Assignment Desk and hosted the 'Down the Shore' show on
She also became a weekend host for Borgata TV, which is the Atlantic City-based Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa's website channel.
"Whenever they had celebrity guests, I would conduct red carpet interviews.
"I had the opportunity to interview many people, including Twilight's Kellan Lutz, True Blood's Joe Manganiello and television personality Mario Lopez."
Because her experience has been so positive, she is open to becoming an entertainment reporter in the future.
On-air success
Successful broadcast journalists are knowledgeable, project confidence, are well spoken and understand that they are one part of a large group of skilled professionals.
"You have to be a team player and work well with your producers, writers, photographers and editors. A quality newscast involves a large group of talented people. In addition, because there is a performance value to being on air, you have to be in control of the situation in case you need to adapt during a broadcast."
How the media benefits society
The media serves many positive roles in today's society. It often generates discussion on important topics and provides information that the public might not otherwise have.
"I am honored to be part of an industry with so many people who are truly passionate about being quality journalists.
"In the Philadelphia area we cover a lot of crime, but I love the stories about people who are making a difference in their communities. By covering these people, we are able to show that one person can create positive change."
Beyond work
In addition to her career, Como also devotes time to volunteer work. She uses her skills, along with her own creative talent in a variety of ways.
"About six months ago I got involved with RAW:natural born artists . I help that organization of artists, musicians, actors, photographers, models, painters and jewelry designers by handling public relations, hosting the monthly Showcases at G Lounge and by interviewing the artists about their work so they can have a professional media kit to help them network.
"Our mission is to provide independent artists of all creative genres, with the tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity.
"RAW connects people so that they might grow together, while also providing them with opportunities to give back to their own local youth communities through the arts."
Como also emceed Jenna Communications Halloween Charity auction last October.
Jenna Communications is a Philadelphia-based public relations, event planning and media training company that is led by Jennifer Sherlock.
Looking to the future 
Como offered some advice for those who would like to work in the media.
"Work hard. If you want something, go for it. Take the entry level position and be willing to sacrifice if you want to achieve your goals.
"Success happens so differently for everyone. Before there was a formula. You would graduate from college and then work in a small market, until you were ready to progress to a larger market. These days, with the influence of the internet, old models no longer work as they had in the past."
Como concluded by reflecting on her values and looking ahead to the future.
"There are so many different ways that you can help people. I am so thankful to have found a career that I love and that also allows me to help others.
"Someday I would like to get married and have children, but right now my focus is on working toward my goals. My career goal is to continue to be a good journalist and ultimately I would love to be an anchor.
"People want to feel that what they are doing in the world matters."
Three, two, one...
The media, along with the rest of our society, continues to evolve rapidly.
What we see as commonplace today will change within the next year, or few years. But, some things will likely never change.
Talent, hard work and a strong ethical foundation will continue to allow certain individuals to adapt and thrive.
Keep an eye on Erin Como, because she is one of those people.

(I hold all copyrights to this article which originally appeared on Yahoo's Voices platform in 2011.)


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