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Effective communication takes a certain self-awareness. As college students, our generation (Gen Z and younger) is the first to experience the phenomenon that is social media throughout our entire lives. For Gen Z, the question of what to do with the influence we hold online – especially when it comes to political ideology – is raised on a daily basis. I wanted to learn more about professional development for communication, especially when it comes to political ideas. I turned my questions to Beverly Hallberg, founder and president of District Media Group, for some practical tips.
Cope: As a Clemson student double majoring in Communication and Political Science, I have received mixed advice from professionals regarding social media. Those in the communications field have advised against talking politics online to maintain professionalism, while others in public policy have suggested the exact opposite. As someone involved in political communications, what is the proper balance between voicing personal political opinions online and maintaining professionalism? If contributing to politics on social media is worthwhile to college students, how should this be done, or to what degree? If not, why?
Hallberg: “The short answer is that it depends. If your goal is to remain neutral–become a straight news reporter, for example—you have to keep opinions to a limit. You want to not only remain objective in your writing, but your social media profile should mirror that. If you desire to have a voice as a media commentator or to support a certain political perspective, having strong opinions matters. What is true across the board, though, is that to have influence in media and/or politics one must be on Twitter. It’s where the conversation and news happen. Every reporter, TV host, producer, politician, press secretary, is there.”
Cope: I know you recently left D.C. after many years there to move to South Carolina. From your perspective, how does D.C.’s political culture compare with the slower-paced South? Is there anything we take for granted about public policy or should pay more attention to in South Carolina?
Hallberg: “Covid changed many things, including cities not being as fast-paced and vibrant as they once were. There is a major transition going on, especially in DC, and shutdowns changed the culture. The benefit for many including myself was to work remotely and have the option to live near family. I still work hard, but I have a better work/life balance. The added benefit of getting outside the beltway and moving to a wonderful place like South Carolina is that you get to see on a day-to-day basis how policies do impact people either for both good or bad.”
Cope: Before starting District Media Group, you worked as director of Leadership Institute Studios. According to its website, LI’s goal is to “increase the effectiveness of conservative activists in the public policy process.” What is your practical advice to young people for public speaking? How can conservative students approach media activism while still engaging in the power of ideas?
Hallberg: “If you are an effective writer and/or public speaker you’ll have a bigger paycheck and a better job title as you move through your career. The most important advice I can give is to develop your communication skills. I recommend taking public speaking or another communications-related class if it’s not already part of your required classes. You can also hire a firm like District Media Group to receive training. And, most importantly, you can practice on your own. Set aside time to record yourself, watch yourself back, and make changes. Make effective communication a skill set that you seek to hone.”
Cope: Now, a fun question – what is your favorite spot to visit around Travelers Rest, S.C. or a recommendation for those of us in Tigertown?
Hallberg: “Go for a bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and stop at the Swamp Ribbit Café for amazing fresh food. https://swamprabbitcafe.com.”
Beverly Hallberg is the founder and president of District Media Group and a senior fellow at Independent Women’s Forum. An expert media coach, lecturer, and public speaker with more than 20 years of experience, she has trained Members of Congress, CEOs, policy wonks, reporters, non-profit and movement leaders, and politicos. Beverly is a guest columnist for the Daily Signal, Washington Examiner, and The Hill, and is a frequent contributor on Fox News and CNN.
An expert on all sides of the camera, Beverly has been a producer, director, and host. Prior to starting District Media Group, Beverly served as director of Leadership Institute Studios. She has edited, produced, and directed numerous TV and radio shows and anchored a weekend sports program for Salem Radio Network News. Additionally, Beverly has written and produced videos, PSAs, and live programs for government agencies including the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, among others. Beverly lives in Travelers Rest, SC with her husband and English bulldog. *