20 Nov Want To Become A Media Personality? Read This
If you have read the Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, then you’re already familiar with the concept of the 10,000-hour work rule — an understanding that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.
Whereas there are different opinions as to whether you need to, primarily, accumulate a definite number of hours before gaining mastery of your art, there seems to be a shared understanding that becoming an authority in your craft requires intention and strategy.
Consequently, we invited two media personalities, Berla Mundi and Anita Erskine, at the November edition of #SFANLiveChat to discuss how folks looking to build their brands in the media industry can actualize that aspiration.
With a little retrospection and thought, we’ve picked out vital insights from the chat as follows.
1. Find your route into the Industry
The media industry is highly competitive and not short of talent. Hence getting your foot in the door comes with a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience says Berla Mundi. “I had quite an easy route into the media industry after partaking in Miss Malaika Ghana in 2010. However, I always advise people to enroll in media institutions, and whiles at it; they can get involved in Campus activities that further introduce them into the media space. But education is never enough. You must be passionate about it because the media isn’t an easy place to pursue your career.”
Tweeting from one side of the education advocacy line, Anita Erskine notes the importance of training for the job, “I think education is paramount. Preparedness and commitment are vital, and so is the appreciation that it may take longer than you plan to be fully immersed in the field.”
2. Find the personality that fits your style
Every great media personality has a unique style that sets him or her apart in the industry. Even if you’re listening to them for the first time without knowing who they are, Anita Erskine’s authoritative command of the airspace or Berla Mundi’s inspiringly youthful delivery style is quite unmistakable.
Both speakers agree that knowing yourself is of vital importance in creating a unique style.
Berla Mundi: Media work is about being you. It’s the only way to stand out.
For Anita, her brand style comes from a burning desire to change the art of storytelling worldwide. “I like the ‘low maintenance, high performance’ approach to life. Less talk more action,” she says.
Taking a personality test might also be useful in figuring out who you are and can save you hours of thankless work in trial and error.
3. Ensure that your brand connects with the audience and community at large
“I ensure, first off, that what my audience is seeing is my true and most authentic self. Then I hold on to my passion as well. I don’t compromise. It’s the only way my audience believes what I say. And finally, I believe in consistency; I try to avoid double messaging,” Anita says.
No matter how good you are, if you don’t have people who love what you do and are willing to tune in to listen or watch, you are nothing.
“You need to study your audience and connect with them emotionally. People want someone they can identify with and look up to,” Berla underscores.
There are several media personalities that nobody remembers their names or faces anymore. The industry is fast-paced, so you have to be continually present in the community and your fans’ minds by building trust and humanizing your brand. Join a cause, do occasional volunteer work, mentor the next generation…be present and approachable. Incredible things happen when your fans can sincerely connect with you, and Social Media helps you achieve this with ease.
4. Remain relevant to your audience
In an industry as fluid as the media, maintaining relevance is hard.
Innovation is always happening, tastes continually change, and the audience can be unforgiving. Therefore, consistently evolving and staying abreast of trends is imperative.
“I pay attention to global evolution because my audience is a part of the world, and it’s ever-evolving and changing patterns. As the world evolves, so do I change the texture of my voice, my approach, and my expectations. This way, I am always relevant.
The media is a powerful and great place to be. Being the custodian of information and developing the direction through which an audience can hear and absorb information is a humbling experience. But to be GOOD at what you do, you need to learn. Don’t shy away from that!
I’m self-trained, but additional education is always a better bet. I’m going back to school to study Broadcast Journalism formally. Education is paramount,” Anita elaborates.
The future of media is changing every day.
Online streaming, social media, and mobile phones create new preferences and diverging interests of consumers from traditional media platforms like radio and TV.
Today, job skills are beyond having a good face, voice, or writing skills. We are witnessing a need for thought leadership, high-performance skilled labor, and increased ownership of the landscape.
The business model for gaining and sustaining a high-quality media presence is, therefore, distilled into ensuring that you have a: (i) clearly defined route into the industry, (ii) personality that rhymes with your style, (iii) brand that connects to your audience and the community, and (iv) platform that is continually relevant to your listeners, readers or viewers.
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Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder & President of SFAN (Stars From All Nations). When he’s not building SFAN and helping entrepreneurs and rising professionals create fulfilling careers, he’s telling African innovation stories or advocating for people-centered policy. Tom-Chris is a former consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana, and the author of the forthcoming book: Breaking the Limits. He is a thought leader on youth development, social entrepreneurship, technological innovation, and the future of work.