Freelancing in the digital age

Want to work on your own terms? You need to build your personal brand. Freelancer, Mark Howard, outlines his story and how those experiences built his profile as a journalist. Plus, we talk about the perfect marriages between athletes and their brands. 

Listen to Mark’s story and advice to future journalists here:

The following is an excerpt from the Brand Storytelling podcast. Available on iTunes,  Soundcloud, and selected Android apps

Rakhal: As a feature freelancer here at Newsmodo we’re seeing lots of brands in the sporting arena, in particular, hiring journalists for work opportunities to create great brand and content. What’s been your experience of working with brands and why do you think they call upon you and journalists and other presenters?

Mark: I think that the second part of that question is due to the typical journalist’s ability to get the message out now. I think messages get lost a lot because there’s so many of them, but I think journalists understand how to cut through. So you see it especially in the sports betting sphere where so many of those guys deliver that message are ex-journalists and I think it works really well. I think that ability to cut through, deliver the message in a short and sharp way rather than banging it on and on and on makes it really effective.

Rakhal: We’re seeing some really exciting developments in the sporting media landscape here in Australia. We’ve got codes like the AFL building their own, in essence, media houses and of course earlier this year Newsmodo announced our content partnership with the NBL, where we’re engaging freelancers to cover games, write material, take photography, create feature stories and other content. One in particular that I know you like is the story about the Hawthorne football club Cyril Rioli it’s a great piece of content. We’re seeing more and more sporting brands get into this, could you tell us about your experience and also this Cyril Rioli piece of content

Mark: Yeah, it’s a really great clip. Cyril is a very humble, quiet man. He’s obviously had a lot of success now he’s won four premierships, he won the North Smith Medal which you get for being the best on ground in the AFL Grand Final. He finally did that last year. He went out to a school and presented a young man with a Cyril Rioli junior membership pack, so the young man didn’t know it was coming, it was shot almost like a candid camera style with a couple cutaways of Cyril walking in, cutting back to the kid.

The young man whose probably 9 or 10, he sees Cyril and it’s just perfect from there. Whether it’s marketing or telling a story. The young man goes up to Cyril and he’s gobsmacked, he doesn’t know what to say and he ends up in tears because he’s just so shocked that his hero is there. Then they interview him a bit after and Cyril gives him a hug and he talks about the fact that he loves Cyril and can’t believe he turned up. There are a couple real zingers for me that catch it, one is the young man cries and working in sport and making a few documentaries etc, people cannot turn off Rakhal.

Whatever you are doing, you can’t turn off if people are crying or laughing. If someone laughs at you, it’s hard enough to laugh back, if someone cries you focus in on this person. The young man cries and then Cyril’s reaction, it’s just priceless unguarded raw emotion and that’s what we try to get to show in sport. Raw emotion, and it becomes difficult because players are guarded the whole time and whenever they show raw emotion their often criticized when they show it, but if you can show raw emotion and that is often tears or laughter that will make anything.

That will make a sports broadcast, it’ll make a news broadcast, it’ll make a movie, it’ll make a clip, it’ll make a YouTube hit. Now emotion is what it comes down to, so the whole time I’m interviewing someone it’s not like I’m trying to make them cry, but if you can make them laugh and relax and talk about things away from the cockpit or away from the footy field or away from the cricket ground. That’s how you engage an audience 100% and I don’t think enough people do near enough.