The Power Of Owning Your Story  

The Power Of Owning Your Story  

Confession time: I used to be kind of a snob about journalism.

When I was earning my degree at The Ohio State University, social media was just beginning to take off. I only made a Twitter account because it was a requirement in one of my journalism classes. We were only just starting to understand the impact of “citizen journalists” with access to post whatever they wanted on their personal profiles and declare it news, and yet we had no idea what was to come (the term “fake news” hadn’t entered the national lexicon yet).

The idea of “citizen journalists” was incredibly offensive to me. Here I was spending thousands of dollars on an education to learn how to practice this craft, and some random person on the street could post a picture and dare to call themselves a journalist, and no one would know the difference.

I’ve had a passion for storytelling since childhood – I can still remember creating “newspapers” on yellow legal pads at my grandma’s house. She worked at a newspaper in her youth, and so did my uncle on the other side of the family. I guess you could say it’s been in my blood. That kind of deep-seated passion can make you pretty defensive.

All that ego led to dreams of being some hotshot writer at a national news organization. I mean, let’s be honest, if I got a call from one of those places I definitely wouldn’t hang up the phone right away. But my journey in life since college has shifted the way I see the world, and my place in this industry.

I still have a fierce passion for journalism. But I no longer believe journalists should live in ivory towers preaching the news to listening ears below. Instead of believing I alone can change the world, I believe in casting a wider net and empowering others to tell their own stories.

The industry as a whole is starting to shift, too. News organizations are starting to realize their audiences don’t need to be preached at, they need to be brought alongside the reporting process. We’ve started to listen more to readers and what they have to say, and we’ve been rewarded with content that our audiences actually care about.

When I think about an individual’s potential for social impact, I’ve stopped thinking about it from the perspective of myself as a superhero saving the world with my words. Real change can only happen when you bring others around you along the same road.

I’ve also stopped thinking I could only make an impact in this world if I rose to a certain station. For a long time, I thought this season of life was only a stepping stone to the next, better opportunity – which is a good way to miss out on the beautiful things happening right now.

I first moved to Richland County in 2012, and the past seven years have cemented my belief that local journalism is perhaps the most important type of journalism. Only your local news organization has its finger on the pulse of the community you live in, reporting on the issues that matter to you in your daily life.

In addition, solutions journalism has really opened my eyes to the possibilities for a local news organization to be a facilitator of that conversation, not just standing on the sidelines. Not to mention it makes my soul a lot happier to report on solutions, not just problems.

I was recently promoted to the position of Engagement & Solutions Editor at Richland Source, and I’ve quickly realized it is truly my dream job to work with our community to make our slice of the world a better place. Not only do I want to tell you all about the amazing things people are doing to find solutions, I want to empower you to be a part of that solution. This isn’t my story – it’s yours.

Gone are my days of scoffing at citizen journalists and pining for a faraway job because of the vague sense it’s what I was obligated to do. I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought possible because I decided to bloom where I was planted. I took a look around and realized the grass under my feet was just as green.

And now, I want to hear from you. If you could affect change in our community, what would you do? What stories do you have to tell about your hometown? Feel free to send them my way at brittany@richlandsource.com.

I’ve always had a passion for storytelling. This is just the beginning.

Embracing Positivity Through Digital Media

Embracing Positivity Through Digital Media

Hey there! I’m Emily Parsons, a digital marketing guru and lifestyle blogger. I believe that everyone has influence and the power of consciously influencing those for the better. It wasn’t that long ago that I left Atlanta, Georgia and moved back to Ohio. I had worked in Corporate America for long enough and needed a fresh start.

I realized pretty fast that the hustle and grind of Atlanta wasn’t what I wanted long-term. I moved back to Ohio, without a set job and two months worth of savings to get me by. Fast forward two years and I’m now living my dream, helping small businesses and women entrepreneurs lead consciously through this fast-paced digital marketing world. I started sharing tips & tricks for blogging, social media and creating an authentic brand. I had no idea that these topics would lead to such amazing changes in companies and myself.

Social Media has completely changed the way we perform, how we run a business and can take your circle of influence from 2 people to 200,000 overnight. It might sound cheesy but my current life and career are exactly where I want to be. I am able to live out my passion for helping people, growing businesses and positively influencing individuals on a daily basis. What more could I ever ask for! If I could effective one aspect of our society, it would be that everyone allows themselves time for daily personal development. Taking time to invest in ourselves, opens us up to a whole new world of opportunity.

You might be asking why you should embrace the new digital marketing millennium? Well, 97% of US adults under 65 are on social media at least once a month. The vast majority are on it every day. 57% of Millennials say that social media has made the ads they see more relevant to them. 48% of people say they made their last online purchase as the direct result of a Facebook ad.

Digital marketing allows small businesses to compete with a much smaller advertising budget. When managed effectively, it gives them laser-focused control over where and how they spend their money. When you have this kind of control and the data to support decisions, you make smarter ones. How amazing is that?!

My goal through digital marketing and social media is to reach as many people as possible in a positive way. If I’m able to spark a sense of joy and excitement for life with one person then I am living out my passion. Social Media gives us the ability to influence so many people, let’s make it a consciously positive one!

Communicating as an introvert

Communicating as an introvert

I attended one of those milestone high school class reunions last night. Let’s say I was anxious about going to see a group of people that I have had no contact with since I left the last class reunion 15 years ago.

As a class officer, I had reached out to the reunion committee to let them know that I would be happy to be a master of ceremonies. I knew that making a commitment to be there would help me to show up. For years, I did the morning announcements at school, excelled in the speech and debate club, and was the English department award recipient of the bunch. Everyone knew of me or knew my voice, which gave me some security.

The committee did reach out to me to see if I would do a welcome after dinner was served, and perhaps lead the group in making introductions. I was told that “no one on the committee can speak in front of groups”, and that they were all introverts. So my introverted self said no problem.

Let’s be clear, introverts are often overlooked and misunderstood

Many systems, workplaces and their cultures are built around extroverts. We are all too busy in our too busy places of work and life to give introverts the time to think through things before we want them to respond. We don’t have time to put out agendas before meetings to give introverts time to read it and think through what is being discussed and how they can contribute. We hold pop up brainstorming meetings where the extroverts will naturally dominate. Facilitators don’t stick to agenda and time-frames because we don’t want to cut extroverts off that go off topic, or never stay on topic in the first place. I don’t like to interrupt, but often find I cannot get a word in unless I do.

It’s my mission to show that introverts can be great communicators. When we know our subject matter, we can be maestros in delivering dynamite trainings. We can be inspirational speakers, and great facilitators, great actors and most importantly, probably the best leaders.

When an introvert opens their mouth to join the dialogue, listen. They have thought about what they are going to say, and have something important to offer the world. They generally don’t think as they speak.

I had a great time at the reunion. I loved reconnecting with everyone, and I made a point to connect with each person there. I intentionally talked about being an introvert and said that there were no rules for introductions. Of course, the extroverts standing took the lead. Everyone participated when they were ready. Some said too much, some very little. But in the end, this introvert could create an atmosphere of caring and acceptance, to make everyone feel special and happy that they showed up. It’s too bad that some had to wait many decades for this group of people they grew up with to allow them to be who they really are, to be listened to, to have the spotlight, and to literally applaud their contributions.

Introversion and extroversion is all about where you get your energy

Introverts generally have a tendency to be more sensitive to stimulation (noise, barking dogs, crowds of people, etc.). I know after a night like this, the best thing I need to do is to be by myself to gain back some energy and recharge. We all have challenges in managing our energy, but in very different ways. Introversion and extroversion lies on opposite ends of a continuum, and we are introverts or extroverts by varying degrees. It affects the way we communicate to others. It affects the way we see the world. It is something that can change over time, through the many phases of our life.

I am not as introverted as I used to be. Those pictures of me crying and screaming at my 2 year old birthday party or sitting on Santa’s lap, would be a good indicator I was over stimulated. The picture of me using my doll only as a prop for being by myself and reading my book would be another indicator of being an introvert who just wanted to be left alone.

The beauty of it all is that we can still all learn how to be great leaders. We can learn how to focus on each other’s strengths and personalities, while being mindful of our natural tendencies. The world demands that we must learn how to live with diversity. We must learn how to adopt our communication style and personality style to best meet the needs of others. We must create work environments and cultures that allow all people to thrive and be fully present and be heard. We can learn to listen more, to establish clarity, because my friend, despite all of this, we are still more alike than we are unalike.