Trinidadian marketing and public relations consultant Ian Royer, who is based in Canada, was one of the first cohort to take part in the CNN Academy’s Post-Pandemic Journalism Training earlier this year.
Royer said he was recommended to do the course by mentor and media professional Dianne Bissoon and he recognised it was a great opportunity.
“CNN was looking for journalists and communication specialists from the Caribbean and Dianne Bissoon, one of the stalwarts in Caribbean television, recommended me. She has observed my growth in PR and communications for about seven years, and she felt it would be a great development tool for me.
"I took a look at some of the names of the keynote speakers, and recognised that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best producers, editors and journalists – how could I not do it?”
He said the week-long course was extremely intensive, comprehensive, fast-paced and rewarding.
“It was designed by the top experts at CNN to teach journalists about changes and shifts to a newsroom due to the pandemic, including delivering the same quality of product while working from home or with covid19 restrictions in place when you go out in public.
“Post-pandemic meant that we learned how to produce stories from home, including how to set up an at-home newsroom and creating sound proofing. For example, if the newsroom the anchor is presenting from is the living room, we learned about putting a blanket down on the counter to reduce noise from their hands. Things like learning how to wire the cameras to the LAN cable so they could be used for broadcast directly to the internet.”
They were taught how to use social media and user-generated content in stories, including how to use social media video and audio from users, how to quickly verify their content, and how to process those content sources quickly. They also learnt how to use new social media platforms like Tik Tok to become news outlets
“We were taught how reports are done in the field, how to leverage technology, how to break a story, and then develop scripts and news blasts with the CNN touch. We also had to do projects to demonstrate what we learned.”
He said the most nerve-wracking one for him was writing a TV script for a breaking news piece about riots in Europe.
"We also explored innovations in journalism with new social media tools such as TikTok and how they can be implemented into a newsroom, used as news outlets, and how to drive traffic to traditional news from them.”
Royer has been in PR and marketing for almost 14 years, starting as an agency copywriter, becoming the creative director of a digital marketing agency, and then opening his own agency, Anansi Tales Marketing.
“I’ve worked for brands like Fashion Week Trinidad and Tobago, NCC, Absolut Vodka Canada, Microsoft Trinidad and VISA Caribbean, Fantasy Carnival, and Woodford Cafe, just to name a few.”
He said another fantastic part of the opportunity was being part of a cohort of the world’s best journalists.
“I was proud to represent TT alongside Mahalia Joseph-Wharton, Ria Rambally, Stacy-Ann Providence, Kalain Hosein, and Shaliza Hassanali. We all banded together for the 5 am starts and got each other through the week and the projects we had to do to gain the certificate of completion.
“The course not only sharpened my editorial capacity, and writing skills, it also gave me very useful insights into how to use social media to source and seed content for pick up by newsrooms. These skills are particularly useful to me when innovating how I work with Caribbean clients, and not just in PR and communications, but in marketing.”