When I first learned about this conference, and started planning to go, I expected the learning to happen within the confines of the conference. I had no idea that I would spend the whole week learning, in the conference and throughout the whole grid that is Manhattan.
One of the convention’s keynote speakers was Mara Schiavocampo of Good Morning America. Mara spoke on the importance of branding and networking, what its like to be a woman of color doing journalism in 2017, her experiences and she gave her advice. I was engaged throughout her entire talk, and the Q&A that followed, but I was most impressed by her point about personal branding. When pinpointing one’s own personal brand, when asking the question “What is my brand?”, she said “Be yourself,” and encouraged to be forthcoming, be authentic and be genuine. According to Schiavocampo, you can usually decipher someone’s brand by giving their social media accounts a quick glance. This was thought provoking for me, I wondered about my brand, and asked my fellow Beaconites what they perceived my brand to be not long after the session had ended. She gave her extensive knowledge of Beyonce as an example. When she spoke about finding a niche, she reminded us that “What you do most is what you’ll do best,” and encouraged us to find a balance between our genuine interests and our career goals.
My takeaway: Be yourself. Do it consistently and in a way you’re proud of.
One of my favorite sessions was led by Michael Koretzky, of the SPJ Board of Directors. He led a two session theory entitled “Editor-in-Grief” part one called “Rule with an iron fist, wear a velvet glove” and part two was called “10 secrets of very sexy editors.” Koretzky gave leaders tips, tricks and strategies for managing a staff and running a productive publication. Throughout all of this lessons, team work was emphasized. I think this is important in any group, but especially at The Beacon. On this trip, in our free time we had the opportunity to explore Manhattan as a team and really grow in our relationships and bond. We explored Times Square (twice), we ventured downtown to NEMO karaoke, we waited in line and saw a live taping of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”, we survived Blizzard Stella. I think one of the reasons we are so productive at The Beacon is because we really are a strong team.
Having a niche was emphasized almost as much as networking and branding were, throughout the conference. It was mentioned in Mara’s speech, in panel “Making it there” that featured The Beacon’s very own, Malika Andrews, and in other sessions. It also came up when I was having lunch with LGBT national reporter for Buzzfeed, Dominic Holden. Although I’m not sure whether or not I would like to make LGBT news my niche, it is his, so we talked about it. He discouraged me from limiting myself to only LGBT news, because he said that Buzzfeed is one of the few publications that prioritizes LGBT news enough to have a person be solely devoted to it’s coverage. He encouraged me to make LGBT news one of four or five beats that I am very knowledgable about, and to go from there.