After nearly 10 years as a Journalist, Juliet Alohan quit her job as an Editor in a leading newspaper to establish a PR consulting firm in Abuja. The media Strategist and Lead Partner at Julyia Media Consulting speaks to TMG about her journey.
Tell us about your background:
I have a degree in Mass Communication from Delta State University, Abraka; a certificate in Social Media Marketing from the London College of Communication as well as a certificate in Social Media for Business from the London Academy of IT. These are aside several professional trainings I have attended with certificates, among which is Communication/ Project Management Technologies and Intervention Strategy, held in Las Vegas, United States in 2014.
TMG> How did you find yourself in the media profession?
Juliet> As a child, I’ve always wanted to be in TV- that desire came from watching NTA network news as a child. I would always tell my parents and anyone who cared to listen that I wanted to be a news caster like Eugenia Abu, Cyril Stober and the rest of them. My parents would always support you to do what you feel you are best at. That informed my decision to study Mass Communication at the university. I’m glad I wasn’t forced to study medicine or engineering; I wonder what type of doctor or engineer I would have been today. Although I eventually majored in print journalism, I’m glad I was allowed to pursue my natural passion.
TMG> How long have you been a Journalist and did you find it fulfilling?
Juliet> I started practicing as a Journalist in 2008.
Being a journalist was bitter sweet but overall it was fulfilling. There are moments when you feel on top of the world, there are times when you feel so low. And I must tell you journalism is a thankless job, you are as good as your last best story. You are your editors favourite one minute, the next, he’s breathing fire at you. Journalism is not for the faint hearted, you have to have a curious mind, be daring, confident, able to multi-task and knowledgeable about almost everything. The job consumes most of your time, you work round the clock, and there are no weekends or public holidays. For me, being a journalist has been the most challenging but fulfilling experience of my life.
TMG> Is it that difficult being a journalist?And how hard is it to reach out to your readers?
Juliet> I wouldn’t say it is difficult to be a journalist, but to stand out as a journalist takes a lot. Beyond what you are taught at the university or other institutions of higher learning, you need to master the trade on the field. The field is where the champions are separated from others, there are people who never studied journalism, who only stumbled into the profession, but they have distinguished themselves on the field. What it takes is to have the passion, you have to be hungry for good stories. Good stories are stories that those concerned would do everything to keep from going public. You have to read and research wide, you must be mentally and physically committed to the job, you must have the desire to effect a positive change through your reports, and most importantly, integrity must be your watch word. On how to reach your readers, that’s pretty simple. A good story gets to the readers. When you do a good report that generates public discourse, readers search out your contact and reach out to you to either commend you and offer more scoops or threaten you. Have you ever wondered why some certain journalists or media houses tend to get all the good stories? That’s because their reputation precedes them, readers have confidence in them to do detailed investigations and report objectively, so the leads keep coming in.
TMG> What makes someone successful in journalism?
Juliet> To be a successful journalist, one needs to be inquisitive, courageous, smart, comported and must avoid sentiments. Objectivity is critical for a journalist, you must set aside your personal views and tell the story as it should. To be successful, a journalist must avoid being used as a tool by vested interests, because sooner or later, everyone gets to know he/she lacks credibility and that would be the beginning of the end of the journalists’ career. Even those using you as a tool would have no respect for such a journalist neither will fellow colleagues. I must reiterate that to be a successful journalist, one must go beyond surface stories to the news behind the news and maintain rich contacts with impeccable sources within your covered beats.
TMG> How would you evaluate your work and what kind of feedback were you receiving from readers?
Juliet> If I am to evaluate my work, I would give myself a very good pass mark. However, it is always best that other people evaluate you. At Leadership Newspaper where I worked for eight years, I rose from a reporter to a senior correspondent within the period, each of those promotions came after general assessment, premised on the evaluation mechanism put in place by the company. More so, I was at some point appointed an associate editorial board member, which is an extremely rare feat to attain, and was also appointed as the news editor, weekend and Sunday Leadership. I believe all these are testament to the fact that I did a good job. In terms of feedback from readers, it was largely positive and encouraging. But there are also times when I received calls threatening my life or emails threatening a lawsuit, particularly concerning stories exposing wrong doings. But I developed tough skin regarding such threats as long as I know my story is credible with facts and supporting documents.
TMG> Is there any training period even as a full time journalist?
Juliet> When I was employed as a journalist, I wasn’t assigned a beat directly but made to understudy senior colleagues on the business desk where I was deployed to. It took about two months before I was assigned a beat. So that helped me get the balance I needed. Other than that, I received several trainings organized by the company over the years while I worked there.
TMG> What are the biggest challenges facing journalists today?
Juliet> It is the lack of press freedom, even in countries with laws protecting press freedom, Journalists are still not entirely free to practice. Nigeria has laws backing press freedom yet journalists are frequently harassed, arrested and detained without charges. Powerful forces in authority don’t want negative press, they often try to bribe journalists to look the other way, and if they can’t have the journalist to bend they come after you ruthlessly. In many other countries journalists are callously murdered while some are thrown in prison over some ridiculous charges. Secondly, in Nigeria for example, some media houses owe journalists salaries, this is a terrible development. Considering the tasking and risky job of a journalist, they should be highly incentivized by their employers. Also there are lots of fake journalists out there; in the case of Nigeria, you find many individuals who do not represent any media outfit parading themselves as journalists and blackmailing for money. Their unwholesome activities rub off on accredited journalists and negatively impact their public perception.
TMG> Tell us 3 things that you consider to be your strengths as a journalist?
Juliet> I would say my passion for the profession, my integrity and ability to multi-task.
TMG> Tell us about a memorable day of your journalism career you can’t forget?
Juliet> There are several of them but the day that is most memorable of my journalism career has to be my visit to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Yola and Maiduguri. I couldn’t sleep properly for days. I kept asking myself how did we get there as Nigerians? How could people live like slaves in their own country? I saw acutely malnourished babies, skinny looking mothers. There were young boys and girls who looked lost with hopelessness written all over their faces, their future were being destroyed. Their living environment and everything is going was bad, t was heartbreaking to see people in such conditions. While on the jet back to Abuja after the visit, I kept asking myself, why is it that I was on that jet flying back to the comfort of Abuja while those people remained without hope in those camp? Even on getting to my house in Abuja, I kept pondering on why I deserved to be comfortable lying on my bed and those people remained in that condition. I kept asking these questions for days and couldn’t sleep. I wondered what I could do to help, I felt helpless and guilty. But I thank God that the crisis is almost behind us now, I’m glad that most of the IDPs have returned to their homes. I’m glad that most of the kidnapped Chibok School girls have been reunited with their families, I pray the rest of the girls and other people in captivity are rescued soon. The nightmare is almost over.
TMG> So away from your journalism practice, tell us about your company and when it was established?
Juliet> Julyia Media Consulting was established this year. We specialize in media and public relations, corporate and crisis communications, content creation, branding, advertising, media coaching, development of communication policies among other services. We pride our company in our culture of commitment and excellent service delivery geared towards meeting our clients’ needs and expectations. In this era of cost effectiveness, we professionally deliver organizations media communications needs and develop policies at competitive price.
TMG> What are the aims and objectives of your company?
Juliet> Our main objective is to project our clients into a world of visibility and endless opportunities. To achieve this, we develop and execute strategies for our clients to connect with their target audiences; we work strategically with them to position their businesses for the next desired level of achievement by enabling them accomplish their brand and communication goals resulting in an overall positive impact on their revenue. Also, because we are strongly committed to societal development, we aim to deliberately support Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) focusing on women and youths empowerment, with media communication plans and strategy necessary to project their visibility and connect them with the right partners and donors who would further help their humanitarian course.
TMG> What type of assignments do media professionals of your level typically work on day in, day out?
Juliet> I am constantly working on how to get my clients ahead of the competition, how to get them heard and more visible with a view to improving their bottom-line. So I’m either working on a communication policy, a press statement or strategizing on branding/rebranding a client’s firm or personal image. At other times, I could be working on facilitating a seminar or roundtable meeting, creating advertisement contents or working on slides for training purposes. All of these assignments are tasking, they involve a lot of activities and you have to pay attention to details and deliver jobs that meet clients’ expectations.
TMG> What do you like most about your practice?
Juliet> I like the creativity aspect of it. Most times clients would give you a general idea of what they want, it is my job to give life to that ideal and execute it in a way that would result in expected outcomes. I like the fact that it’s a solution oriented and value addition practice where we help others achieve set organizational goals. At Julyia Media Consulting we go the extra mile to treat every project like the only thing that matters, and that moment when you see a nod or broad smile of satisfaction on the clients face gives me the most satisfaction.
TMG> How do you stay educated about new trends to develop yourself?
Juliet> I read widely, this year alone despite my busy schedule, I have read at least six major books. I subscribe to newsletters and follow informative blogs all of which are geared towards my personal and professional development. I also watch very educative documentaries both on TV and online. Attending workshops and conferences is also my way of keeping up with trends. Another trick I employ is to frequently engage senior and successful colleagues, I learn something new each time I interact with them. I am someone who is not ashamed to ask questions, what I don’t know I don’t pretend about it, laugh if you want, I won’t be put off but I will sure ask and get answers. That’s how I improve myself.
TMG< What do you find most challenging about your practice?
Juliet> I can’t really point to anything challenging, apart from to say it is a highly competitive industry, as with most other sectors. There are lots of very smart people in this practice, it is not a place for quacks.
TMG> What do you do differently to ensure you are of good quality to the public as a professional?
Juliet> I treat every project with utmost commitment as if it were the last there is. I leave nothing to chance, I pay attention to every detail. I ensure I relate with my clients beyond project delivery to measure outcomes and continued progress. In most cases, I offer free consultancy to some clients in terms of valuable tips or strategies that can be implemented to resolve any perceived challenge. I treat every case uniquely and refrain from applying a general prescription because what works for company A may not work for company B due to various factors and variables.
TMG> Who are your role models and people that motivated you into this profession?
Juliet> Motivation into the media profession owes its origin to watching Cyril Stober, Eugenia Abu and others on NTA 9pm network news while growing up. But now I admire professionals like Hajiya Lami Tumaka who was named one of the top 100 global PR professionals last year by Toronto based EvanCarmichael.com, but I’m inspired by Richard Edelman, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Edelman, a leading global PR firm.
TMG> Tell us about an accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Juliet> Founding Julyia Media Consulting is for me a great accomplishment that I’m very proud of. Not only will I be living my purpose professionally, it would also afford me the opportunity to render service to humanity through my support service to selected NGOs.
TMG> Tell us about your management style and how you handle your co staff?
Juliet> Our culture is one of teamwork, where we encourage excellence, commitment and result oriented spirit. Every team member is highly respected and valuable. I take opinion and suggestions from everyone as I cannot claim to know it all. I have Partners who are invaluable to me, as a matter of fact, I wonder what I would do without them.
TMG> What way can you encourage others to be independent in any profession?
Juliet> First of all you have to believe in yourself because you are your greatest asset. You are the only person responsible for your success. In the face of challenges you have to be mentally resilient. You have to remember that without action there can’t be progress, hence you must be persistent and remain focused. It is ok to stumble or fail but you must never stay down, you must pick up and start over. Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t or you are not good enough, start with those very little steps, soon you will begin to run. Don’t wait until everything is perfect before you start, start with whatever is available.
TMG> How do you spend your free time?
Juliet> I am mostly a private person. I would either be reading or watching a really good thriller or suspense movie. Because of my curious mind, I enjoy the task of trying to figure out the twists in the movies. I sometimes take time to engage in outdoor activities with a few friends and do some fun stuff. But most importantly, I don’t joke with my holidays, I always ensure I give myself a well-deserved vacation once a year, away from the pressure of work to visit some lovely cities around the world.
Yes, that statement says it all. ThanksShow quoted text