December 12, 2016
/ by Julia Rabin
Social media leverage and a keen understanding of your audience are vital to standing out in the marketplace.
Jamilah Lemieux, the VP of News and Men’s Programming with Interactive One, explains how she has branded herself and stays focused on her goals to produce smart, timely content.
In this interview, Jamilah discusses the most gratifying moments of the communications field, how members of the media can shape important conversations, and strategies to approach breaking news in an honest and insightful manner.
Thank you! I can’t share the specifics about what I am planning just yet, but I am excited to be partnered with Kierna Mayo again. We have a history of changing how Black media approaches the news of the day and, in particular, issues of race, gender and sexuality…and we are looking forward to continuing to do this at iOne!
I started a blog my senior year in college, after years of being told, “You should be a writer,” but not having much interest in writing. Within a few years, it consumed me and I realized that I wanted to work in the media.
I’ve won some awards and been on a few lists, but the most gratifying moments for me are when I’m out in public and someone comes up to me and says, “Thank you. Thank you for telling our stories, thank you for telling the truth.” Or, “I’ve learned a lot from you,” which I hear often from young Black men, which is so gratifying—knowing that my love of our people comes through in the work that I produce. That’s my biggest goal here, to talk to and about Black people in an honest way for a global audience, to document our triumphs and our struggles, to affirm our humanity.
When it comes to social media, I was an early adopter. I had a blog before many of my peers, I joined Twitter in 2008—before most folks. It has been my greatest tool, in terms of amplifying my individual voice, promoting work and connecting with a large audience. I consider social media a gift and a curse, for individuals and publications alike. Without a true understanding of the proverbial lay of the land, a compassionate and kind person can look like a monster, a capable journalist can look like a hack and a noteworthy publication can look like a trashy rag. If you or your team don’t understand how to navigate ‘Black Twitter,’ then you shouldn’t consider ‘Black Twitter’ a place to go poking around. Hire people who understand social media to lead your efforts there.
As far as individual journalists go, think about your long-term goals and the identity you have carved out for yourself. Are you an opinion writer, or a reporter? Not everyone can get away with expressing himself or herself the way that I do. That doesn’t make me a special snowflake, but I’ve branded myself in a particular way that works for me, but won’t work for everyone in this business.
I’m excited to help expand Interactive One’s multimedia content offerings at a time where there is a particularly urgent need for smart, well-produced coverage of these sensitive issues. Black lives matter to this company and they matter to our readers and viewers. Now, it’s time to sharpen the ways in which we express that.
These conversations require intellectual honesty, courage and an understanding of history—and I think the average person hasn’t been challenged to possess those values, or to apply them to these issues. Our writers, content creators and thought leaders must have the ability to lead them to that place.
Manage your expectations. Don’t measure your career trajectory against anyone else’s, or look at anyone else as your barometer for success. Work hard, stay humble and remember that people who work in communications must be good at communicating! Don’t hit up someone via Twitter DM’s or Facebook asking for a byline or a job! Use this access to people in your field wisely and perfect the art of networking.
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