Amber: Hi, I’m Amber Ambrose and this is BusinessMakers USA, brought to you by Insperity, inspiring business performance. Today we’re coming to you from Columbus, OH. My guest is Mikaela Hunt of Mikaela Media; welcome.
Mikaela: So good to be here Amber, thanks for asking me.
Amber: Yeah, so the camera is no stranger to you, Mikaela. You have a background in TV and now you’re a brand journalist. What does that mean?
Mikaela: Brand Journalist means someone who is taking a very authentic look at a brand or a company and then telling their story. Most of the time when I do it I tell it online through video or through social media, but sometimes brands and companies they think they know the story they need to be telling their audience, but maybe there is something that kind of needs to be dug out, you know, of whatever is happening inside. So, I help do that and then make sure that story gets told to their audience.
Amber: Sure, and you’ve been doing it for seventeen years on TV before you started Mikaela Media, of course. So, tell me about your history in local news.
Mikaela: Everybody kind of has the same story when it comes to local news. You spend some time going around market to market, and it’s one of those things where I was in Columbia Missouri, I was in Central Illinois, and then I was in Columbus, Ohio anchoring the morning news for about six years, a total of seven to eight years at the station, the NBC affiliate here. It was great, I loved telling stories, I loved connecting with community and talking with people. That’s the reason that I got into TV news, and it was fantastic to do, and I was privileged to be able to do it for a long time.
Amber: That’s great. What made you make the switch?
Mikaela: Completely unexpected. I don’t think I realized when I started Mikaela Media about three years ago that there was a real change in the way that people were consuming content. I knew people were on social media and I completely subscribed to finding out the latest on how to use Twitter, Facebook, and all these things. Periscope was just barely on the map then, right? And this was, again, only 2015, so as happens in local news, brand new managers, change in staff from out of state, and I found myself looking without a contract at a job that I had for a long time. I had a non-compete for sixty days, and then they said that they couldn’t hold me to that non-compete, but by then I had already started asking around about what else I could do. I didn’t necessarily want to go the traditional PR route, even though I appreciate so much what folks in PR do, but I felt like I needed to be doing something with telling stories in a different way. So, I started asking around and I heard about this concept from a friend of mine called brand journalism, and I did some research and I said, I could tell stories for companies, are you kidding me? Yes, sign me up.
Amber: Totally fresh eyes and a fresh look that maybe someone that hadn’t had a journalism background and were strictly marketing.
Mikaela: A lot of people call me a consultant because of that. I like how you say that, a set of fresh eyes. I can come in and take a look at the story you think needs to be told, and then we can actually see, ok well what does it look like, you know, on video? What does it look like as you’re telling it on social media?
Amber: So, give me a specific example of when you had to dive in pretty deep and pull out the story.
Mikaela: There is a story that I did fairly recently, and it was an easy story to tell, but I had to really think about the angle. A local company, well known, and a large company in central Ohio wanted to tell a story about some individuals who got into a distracted driving accident, and with that story, wanted to be able to explain to their other employees why this policy they have is so important. The best way to be able to tell that is through the human experience, right? So, we dug really deep into that. We went to the accident scene, we interviewed the wife and him, got some video with the kids, but also talked to the vice president of the company about how it all folded back into why they have the policies they have and why it’s so important to have mobile device policies. That was a great story, but it had a lot of different angles to it because you weren’t telling it to a general audience, obviously, you’re telling it to their employees. That was an example of an internal one that we really dug into.
Amber: I know you do some stuff outside of brand journalism and you do trainings. Being in the media, obviously it’s an important skill for certain people. How do you train people to do that?
Mikaela: With it, a lot of times, I just got to doing one, actually, the other day. I probably do about ten a year total. Sometimes I partner with PR firms to do a 365-degree training for folks. We do the media training portion, so people understand what that looks like with traditional, for paid and earned media, but then we talk a little about owned. We talk about what is kind of the string that you’re telling in that story, right? What is the narrative that you are creating when it comes to your company and what you’re trying to do. And so, we talk about ways to do that and different ways to do that with different assets, different ways to even have your own videos if you can’t hire someone to do them for you. There’s so many tools out there, different apps and things you can use with a simple phone, a smartphone. We go in and we have those conversations with people and it’s great to see their eyes light up at the end of these conversations because they feel as though, wow, I could actually do this for myself. I can make a difference to my company, potentially, by being able to tell the story.
Amber: What do you love the most about being a business person in Columbus, Ohio?
Mikaela: We chose to stay here. I guess I could have gone into tv or kind of looked for a different tv job somewhere else. Columbus is a growing community that has access to so much, so I love the town for that reason, and everybody is incredibly helpful when it comes to business. Whether you need to have a coffee with someone, and I talked to a lot of people before creating my business. For them to help you out, you can get to them so easily, and they’ll talk to you, you can just ingrain yourself. I feel like it also supports you back. That’s what’s really great about it, and plus I’m a working mom. I love the fact, too, that in Columbus and doing the job that I do, I have flexibility. It’s hugely important and I actually can’t imagine not having that flexibility and not having this great community that’s standing by me and encouraging me.
Amber: That’s great. Well, we’re really excited to be here, so thanks for joining us.
Mikaela: We’re glad to have you in town.
Amber: Well, thank you, Mikaela. Once again, this is BusinessMakers USA in Columbus, Ohio, in case you didn’t catch that last little bit here. And my guest is Mikaela Hunt. Thanks for joining us.
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