How Fox News Hires: It’s All About the Brand

fox-news, reilly
Credit: Justin Hoch, Wikipedia Commons

by Paul Petrone |

Love them or hate them, here is a fact about Fox News that no pundit could dispute: they are killing the competition.

The New York-based, Rupert Murdoch–owned news channel attracts more viewers than its biggest two competitors – MSNBC and CNN – combined. In fact, a 2013 Gallup poll revealed that Fox News was the leading single source for news.

There are plenty of people who criticize the channel, arguing that it is essentially a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. But looking beyond that and viewing Fox News purely from a business perspective, the question is: how are they doing it?

Well, there are many factors for success at any organization, but one of the most crucial factors is always how they hire. And analyzing Fox News’ process, it is clear that they are doing a great job of attracting and hiring people who believe in their mission.

Understanding Fox News’ Culture

Let’s face it – Fox News has a particular market in mind, conservatives, and markets to that almost exclusively. The proof is in the numbers, as only 3 percent of Fox News viewers describe themselves as Democrats.

Most of Fox News’ pundits lean right, from Sean Hannity to most of the hosts on The Five. And while commentators like Bill O’Reilly and Neil Cavuto are allegedly more objective, most people would agree that they clearly lean right as well.

So the culture at Fox News is pretty straightforward. While most other media outlets are dominated by liberals (four in five reporters who align with a party at all say they align with the Democratic Party), Fox News presents the counter-balance, a place where (the stats show) mostly Republicans go to get “fair and balanced” news.

How Do They Hire?

So does Fox News on its career site say they want only conservatives who love red meat and bashing the president? Not quite, but it is there in a subtle way.

First off, Fox News’ reputation precedes itself. Because the product itself is public in its very nature, it is going to attract a certain type of person. Unlike CNN, which most journalists might apply to, Fox News is more likely to get applicants who believe in what they do.

But it goes further than that. There is a very revealing recruitment video prominently displayed on the Fox News career site to entice people to apply to the company.

Along with the normal platitudes you see in most of these videos (great opportunities to advance, great environment, etc), there are highlights from the channel. And most of the highlights revolve around a Fox News personality taking on a liberal or a liberal ideal.

Specifically, there is a highlight of O’Reilly screaming at US Rep. Barney Frank (a high-ranking Democrat out of Massachusetts) to “stop the BS here.” Additionally, there is another scene of Hannity holding a sign of a piggy bank with the words, “Keep your hands out of my piggy bank!”, clearly referring to the government and taxes.

Some people are going to get turned off by those highlights. The ones that are left are the people Fox News wants.

Additionally, recruiters put an emphasis on how much applicants know and care about Fox News. On the website GlassDoor, where people describe interview processes at various companies, nearly all of the people who talked about applying to Fox News said they were asked about their view of the product, with questions such as who their favorite Fox News anchor was.

The Takeaway

From a business perspective, Fox News has done an amazing job of understanding its consumer base and then building a product around that. They have a very clear idea of exactly what they need to do to be successful and all aspects of their organization revolve around that.

And that extends into hiring as well. While they don’t come out and say it, Fox News is lacing their recruiting collateral with its ideals so they attract the right people and they screen applicants based off how much they know and are passionate about the company.

While some might not like the mission itself, the lesson of Fox News is one that applies to every organization in America. Figure out what your target market wants. Build a company around those desires. And then hire people who believe in what you’re selling.

[Photo: Credit: Justin Hoch, Wikipedia Commons]

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