What do broadcast journalism, public relations and advertising have in common with entrepreneurship? Some people could argue that the communication and business fields are somewhat related, but there is a bigger correlation than you think. As a recent graduate of Syracuse University, I had the chance to experience firsthand the rise of “Media Entrepreneurship” during my senior year at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Both young entrepreneurs and students were consistently encouraged to combine their traditional majors with skills in social media, web development, and business management. Here’s why this approach is crucial for students who are pursuing fields in media:
- The Industry is Constantly Changing: As the web and mobile are becoming more popular than TV and radio, people in media fields need to find innovative ways to reach their audience and launch startups that can be successful on these platforms.
- Media is a Part of Business and Vice Versa: Whether it’s pitching or writing a press release, young entrepreneurs can use their media skills to help propel their business forward or market products. While there are a number of aspects that determine whether your company floats or sinks, one of the key factors is clear communication.
- Some of the Biggest Startups Are Media/Communication-Based: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … you name it! Some of the biggest apps and sites revolve around communication and connecting with others. By learning the basics of both communication and business in the classroom, students leave with the skills to create the next big startup (and some could argue that they have less of a chance of failing).
- Can You Say Double Threat: When I was sitting in class with people in my major, we were all learning writing and production skills, but I always wondered what would set me apart. Media Entrepreneurship will not only make you a versatile entrepreneur, but it will prepare you for almost any job and make you stand out.
- The Trend Doesn’t Seem to be Slowing Down: At almost every school where I have interviewed startups, there was a startup related to media. For example, at Syracuse University, Melanie Witkower created Screen-Bridge, a company that creates social content for popular TV shows. Additionally, two young entrepreneurs in Columbus, OH created CapStory, a companion to wedding photography that helps guests capture videos and photos.
The Next News Startup and Journalism Innovation
Last year, I had the opportunity to take a course called “The Next News Startup,” a class that was taught by Dan Pacheco, the Chair of Journalism Innovation at Newhouse. The class taught students how to think about the future of the news industry as well as work on our own media startups. Our goal was to reach readers/viewers over mobile phones, tablets, the web and various digital platforms; one student used 3D Printing to create fishing lures and another created a website to promote diversity in the workplace.
Pacheco was ultimately running a “mini accelerator.” While the course was challenging at times, it was one of my favorite college courses. I never felt as if I were in a real class, but instead I was a growing a business while pitching, getting feedback from other students, Skyping with experts, and learning the “ins and outs” of how to create a business concept.
However, Pacheco’s impact on media entrepreneurship for the university didn’t end at teaching the course. Here’s how he’s helped grow media entrepreneurship and what other professors who want help students think differently about the industry can learn from his approach:
- He’s created “Digital Media Petting Zoo” where students can borrow new digital tools. I had the chance to rent out the Google Glass and interview student-run startups from a different perspective. This experience allowed me to see the potential of how journalists can tell stories in the future.
- Working with Drones: Pacheco has worked with other students on how to capture images and footage with drones. Drones can go places where people can’t – not to mention the aerial views.
- The Oculus Rift: Pacheco is making virtual storytelling possible with the Oculus Rift. He sees a future where people can be part of the story. The Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, could help the way people tell and experience news.
However, these examples don’t only apply to college students — any entrepreneur can and should learn how to combine their media and business skills. Through interviewing entrepreneurs and experts in the field as well as taking courses at SU, I have learned that you and your startup need both business and communication to survive.
Many people say that you can only be an expert in one thing, but I believe this is an exception. The key to Media Entrepreneurship – as we have learned from Pacheco – is having the ability to use and implement skills from both fields. Could you launch a successful business and marketing campaign without PR, press and creative thinking?