Austin's unique "BE"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ATXEquation Course: How to Pitch a Scene

- As told by ATXEquation student Erica Tillson -

Recently the ATXEquation class at St. Edwards University had an opportunity to learn from a highly experienced professional with an excellent reputation. Austin socialite, blogger, and writer for the
Austin American Statesman, Michael Barnes, joined us as a guest speaker.

Taught by collaborators and ATXEquation co-founders Heather McKissick and Bijoy Goswami, the Austin Equation aims at exploring what makes Austin uniquely Austin. Through experience and journalism, the class dissects the various scenes in Austin including those selected by the student groups: nightlife, food, music and fashion. Barnes shared his extensive knowledge of Austin. He also shared some fundamental aspects of good media journalism with students that day.

I think it's safe to say there aren’t many people that wouldn’t want Michael’s job. Michael Barnes is the Austin American-Statesman's social columnist. Michael is an ‘experiencer’ of events and scenes. Michael’s blog,‘Out and About’ depicts Austin’s uniqueness and fabulous experiential capacity as seen from his point of view. Two out of 3 people in Central Texas read the Austin American Statesman. @outandabout currently has almost 6,000 followers on Twitter.

This savvy entertainment journalist didn’t get to the top with out a few ground rules—which he was quick to share with students. “Remember only four words” Michael said about media journalism and pitching the Austin Experience: “Align goals. Attune personalities.” What is most important, it seems, is aligning goals with your audience and attuning with their personality - especially when it comes to media relations.

Some students agreed there is no better way to learn than getting hands-on experience from a teacher after a lecture. Barnes shared more insights as a journalist covering people, places, and scenes. He added that a journalist must constantly ask him/herself certain things and be self-critical of the work. After reminding us that a good journalist must ask "What are the communities in the scene?" Barnes surprised us during class by announcing we would be inviting him to the scenes of our choice via Twitter, email, by phone and in person. What followed was a fun, interactive workshop that was beneficial to all the students in "pitching" our selected scenes.

Personally, I had a wonderful experience during Barnes lecture and workshop, and practicing my scene-marketing skills on the Yoda of the Austin Experience only made me a more skilled communicator.

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