And with everyone looking for an edge on how to make a great hire, here’s a free tip: Interview a journalist.
Because if you interview a journalist, you just might hire a journalist. And that could be very good for your organization.
Why a journalist?
Can your team use a highly educated, passionate, curious self-starter? Maybe you already have that kind of employee. But are they also trained to digest facts, strip away noise and understand what’s most important? Can they communicate that information across multiple platforms? Often multiple times each day?
What about the ability to ask tough questions — of a top manager or CEO, for example, who may not always be held accountable in team meetings? Can your employee do that and also solve in five minutes a problem that would stymie others for days?
This is all just another day at the office for most journalists.
None of this is to suggest raiding a newsroom. I bet you can make a great choice among some of the terrific journalists who have lost jobs in the past 13 years. You might be surprised at the wealth of talent available right here, right now.
Journalists and the ‘real world’
This isn’t exactly a great awakening on my part. I spent 36 years in newsrooms and have been part of the daily miracle that is publishing print and digital content. But it took leaving the industry and launching a strategic communications and digital media firm with my wife, Regina, to really appreciate all of the following:
- Not everyone in the “real world” understands the unique and very useful skills journalists possess.
- Not everyone is prepared to work at the same pace as journalists, who can turn a months-long research project into a comprehensive story in a matter of days.
- Not many other industries have experienced the pace of change that journalists have been force-fed over recent years.
- Many journalists do not appreciate how well their skills translate to the real world. This sad fact hurts more than my former colleagues. Just about every company out there needs in one form or another the unique abilities of journalists.
This is not to say that hiring a journalist will guarantee a perfect marriage. The person still must fit the job and the company, and the organization must be prepared to feed and water this wonderful new creature you’ve discovered.
But we now live in a world where creating and communicating specific messages for specific audiences has never been more important to digital marketing strategies, research analysis or teaching — just to name a few.
Do you really want to hire and train someone to do the 417 things, give or take, a journalist has already mastered?
Kevin Whitmer is a strategic communications/digital media expert and President of Whitmer Consulting LLC . He spent more than 30 years managing large news operations and building digital audiences.
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