There must be something in the water in Charlotte, North Carolina. Just a few weeks after we brought you the viral Facebook Live posts from WBTV’s Kristen Hampton, we received a reader suggestion about an anchor at WBTV using Facebook in a different way: to be real with her followers.
Molly Grantham has been an award-winning anchor and reporter at WBTV for the past 15 years. For starters, she’s won two Emmys for her work; she was named the RTDNAC TV News Reporter of the Year for both Carolinas in 2011; she’s reported on issues from gangs and terrorism to kids facing uphill medical battles; and she anchors the evening newscasts for WBTV. But she’s also a mother, and she’s not afraid to use social media to talk about the struggles that come with being a full-time working mom.
“There’s no real map on just how to be yourself with cameras and lights and a mask and a costume and makeup and tough headlines,” Grantham said. “There’s a lot of work you have to do to be real with all of that. So if you can figure out how to do that, if anybody in the world can figure out how to do that, that’s a good thing because people are just thirsty for authenticity.”
Right after her second child — her son Hutch who is now four — was born, Grantham started sharing weekly Facebook posts about everything from the sleepless nights with a newborn to fighting about naptime to the struggles of grocery shopping with two young kids. The posts have since slimmed down to monthly updates, but the important thing is that they’re still authentically Molly. “People, viewers, social media people, taught me it’s okay to say how tough it was,” Grantham said. “And it’s okay to be real about missing myself and missing my job when I was on maternity leave.”
Grantham was “trapped in the house with two young babies,” and it wasn’t easy. She received numerous comments on her posts, and “they comforted me,” she said. “It was like ‘Oh wow, it’s a two-way street.’” Through her posts, Grantham is able to communicate that she’s not just the person who reads the news every night; she’s a real person just like each of her followers.
That desire to share what journalism — and being a TV anchor in particular — looks like behind the “mask” is what led Grantham to give a Tedx Talk — “The Real We Are” — in Charlotte this past December. “This is not a glamorous job,” she said, “it just looks that way sometimes. You guys [the viewers] comment on hair and makeup, and that’s not what matters at all.”
Pulling back the “curtain,” and being authentic with your viewers, in your own way, is totally necessary, Grantham said. “Otherwise you’re just this big figure relaying words.” Showing the viewers that you care about what you talk about on TV every night is an important part of the job because “we’re all human.”
She’s even taken her musings about parenthood, and being real and authentic on Facebook, and turned them into a book – Small Victories: The Off-Camera Life of an On-Camera Mom. It covers about two and a half years worth of stories about balancing being both a mom and a TV news anchor.
As far as advice goes, she said the most important thing on social media is to “be smart, but be you.”
Do you know an anchor, reporter or meteorologist who is using social media to engage with his or her viewers and deserves to be our next Social Media Spotlight? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll check them out.