By: Carson Sweezy
Journalism is a Grind
NPR media correspondent, David Folkenflik spoke to a class of roughly twenty Digital Journalism students at William & Mary on a varying range of topics. Folkenflik, a professional with experience at the national level, brought his insight to the students and provided helpful advice for their endeavors. Underneath a general discussion about journalism and Folkenflik’s own career lay priceless advice on what it takes to hustle and grind in any role. There is one mandatory trait for a hustler, persistence. Persistence is key… Queue Dj Khaled.
David talked of perseverance and how getting past “gate keepers” is essential when dealing with large organizations or high-profile individuals. Gate keepers are the intermediaries between media and the person of power. If you want to interview Donald Trump, prepare to go through a lot of gate keepers.
When it comes to perseverance there is an old rule in marketing known as “The Rule of Seven’”. Simply put, the more your brand gets in front of a consumer the more familiar and likely to convert they become. On average, it takes 7 “touchpoints”.
In one instance of Folkenflik writing a story on then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, when asked for a quote her team gave silence. David didn’t give up. Folkenflik called them out on Twitter and after several tweets, they responded.
Act often, stay persistent, contact the subject with as many channels as you can find them, and results will come. Diving deep with as many mediums and contacts as possible is helpful to persevering.
Depth is important with any subject, whether marketing, reporting, or researching. What differentiates the experts from everyone else is how deep they can take a topic. Depth can be achieved by performing hours of research and in-the-field study. However, in most scenarios time is of the essence and depth must be portrayed with speed. Thus choosing what to go deep on becomes crucial, and that requires tact.
Finally, we arrive at one of the most important concepts to be learned in life. In our youth it’s easy to become headstrong, opinionated, and act like “know-it-alls” (as I write a blog post😏). This doesn’t do us any favors when it comes to winning others over. Whether interacting with an audience, an employer, or our social sphere whatever your message is must be conveyed in such a way that the audience feels obligated to take action. Our case must be so strong, so compelling that they immediate jump to arms. A book that I suspect Folkenflik himself has read is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. If he hasn’t read it, then he could certainly write his own book on the topic. The basic principle is that a concept can be screamed from the mountain top, but if the audience doesn’t feel convinced to do something, they won’t. Convey a strong message, convince the audience of the importance of the cause, and action will ensue.
Hustle is innate. Optimizing that drive to get the best outcomes on the other hand — that is a skill. Skill’s are tools, and they can be sharpened, refined and mastered. Developing sales skills, and learning when to deploy tact are essential to any business.