At conferences such as Excellence in Journalism, first impressions are everything. When meeting industry newsmakers and future employers, everything is considered; from what one says to how one acts. It’s all a part of the first impression.
Note: this also includes wardrobe.
“I’ll give you a simple example,” said Brandon Mercer, RTDNF donor and Region 2 member of the Board of Directors. “I’m wearing a suit because I am hoping to meet people I want to hire, and I want to present myself as the best possible manager I can be.”
Mercer said you should still dress like you’re going to a job interview no matter what your purpose or role is at the conference.
When preparing for the Excellence in Journalism conference, WVLA-TV multimedia journalist Talia Samelian said she figured the dress code would be “business classy.” That’s why she packed flattering skirts and blouses as well as blazers. The Baton Rouge reporter said looking nice was the main priority. That includes ironing your clothes, wearing light makeup and presenting yourself well.
Because she’s on the air, Samelian wears gem colors as well as nicely-ironed dresses topped with blazers for a good on-camera presentation. When infusing her own style, she looks to accessories.
“I really like jewelry and bold necklaces,” Samelian said. “I think the jewelry is really how you can tell my style.”
Western Kentucky University Broadcast Journalism Professor Bradley Pfranger said journalists on camera, such as Samelian, must put in extra thought when considering their daily attire.
“Keep in mind that certain patterns will not work on camera,” Pfranger said. “Remember, if your clothes talk louder than you do, then you won’t be able to convey the story you’re trying to convey.”
Mercer said he elebrates his coworkers who dress according to their personalities and style is easily adjustable for events like EIJ and when meeting potential employers.
“Some people are known for being a little more quirky,” Mercer said. “You should absolutely dress like that if that’s your persona. Don’t be someone you’re not.”
At the Columbia Journalism School there is no photo or interview component that is required to apply for the school’s program. Assistant Director of Admission & Financial Aid Diane Nguyen said that although style may be moot in the application process, New York City lends itself to self-expression and that students’ style “varies very widely.”
“They’re out in the city reporting, so a lot of them try to relate with the audiences and (dress) depending on the assignment,” Nguyen said. “We have a very diverse class every year, and from what I’ve seen so far, they have had no problems with expressing their sense of fashion through their clothing.”
Samelian said she thought more women would be wearing heels at the conference.
“I wore heels because I like to wear heels,” she said. “I should have put my flats in my purse. My feet are definitely going to hurt in four hours.”
Ultimately, professional attire is the name of the game when considering the sartorial approach to events like EIJ. And for tonight’s opening night reception, cowboy boots are optional but encouraged.
“I don’t own any so I would have to go buy some,” Samelian said. “Although I did just move to Louisiana so I probably could have found them easily. But I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots in my life.”