This week’s featured media mogul in the making is writer and publicist, Njera Perkins! Her work has been featured across many platforms including AfroTech, The Demo Tape, Daily Rap Facts and BLUNTIQ Magazine. Learn more about Njera’s journey below.
You are a multi-talented individual dipping and dapping in a bunch of other expressive fields. So, what was it about journalism or media that piqued your interest?
“Thank you, I honestly never saw myself having a career in journalism or media. Growing up, my teachers took note of my talent for writing but I never took it seriously. At the time, I wasn’t well-versed in media and communications so I didn’t see a real future in it. I had goals of going off to school to become a doctor so I set my sights on that. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I started taking steps to pursue a career in journalism. My love for music is what initially piqued my interest, but it introduced me to a whole new world I didn’t expect to immerse myself in. I would submit job applications for positions at magazines, talent agencies, and media companies religiously, any way to get my foot in the door. I waited to hear back from companies for months, but I wasn’t having much luck so I spent more and more time writing and eventually discovered my love for it. I think of myself as a storyteller which is why I chose to pursue careers in journalism and PR – they’re both flexible fields that allow me to merge my passion and skills together.”
How did you get your start in the media field? Did you study communications in college? Internships? Hobby writing?
“So halfway through my sophomore year of college, I switched from being a Kinesiology major to study strategic communications and public relations. I was looking to fill a void and my first writing gig with Blackaphillyated – a local entertainment publication – helped me find my purpose. The pro-bono work I started with helped me realize I wanted to turn journalism into a full-time career. I worked several internships in communications, PR, and marketing throughout college and joined organizations on campus related to communications, while still writing on the side. My writing hobby led me to other opportunities with publications such as The Gumbo, BLUNTIQ, and Daily Rap Facts as well as The Demo Tape and AfroTech, where most of my work lives online. Three months after I graduated from college, I moved to New York to work a full-time internship at a boutique PR agency. All my previous job experiences helped me secure a full-time job at my current agency and staff writer position at AfroTech. In the last four months, I’ve received a tremendous amount of exposure for my spotlight and news pieces for AfroTech that have expanded my network, especially with New York-based media professionals and influencers.”
Tell us how you built up your platform. What’s your mission/goals? Who’s your audience?
“When I first began my career as a writer, I treated it as a hobby but I invested a lot of time into my craft. I’m where I am today because of the people I’ve met along the way. A Black woman gave me my start in this industry and Black women have continuously showed up for me in most of my career opportunities that I’ve been afforded. I started at the bottom of the chain and quickly worked my way up the ladder because my mentors saw my drive and promoted me to positions where I could continue to nurture my skills.
My mission has always been to keep the integrity in my work. For me, I’m happy to get the recognition, but my work is bigger than me. The messages in my work are attached to a bigger cause and I always aim to start or continue those larger conversations. There are thousands of talented writers in this industry, so instead of turning my writing into a competition I’ve made my work so unique that no one can compare my style to anyone else’s. For those who have been following me since the beginning know that my work has tremendous range – my articles can go from hard news stories to op-eds to cultural think pieces. I knew coming into this if I was going to make a name for myself, I had to set myself apart from everyone else in this space to make sure my voice was heard loud and clear.The biggest compliment I get on my writing is my ability to bring new things to the masses and sincerely cover stories with a kind of skill most news outlets lack. That’s why I do what I do.
My work is of course for all to consume, but I write for the little Black girl who didn’t know she had such a powerful voice. At the end of the day, it’s not all about the amount of clicks and retweets I can get for a piece. Knowing I’m doing the work of the people is enough recognition for me.”
So far throughout your career, what has been your proudest personal media moment?
“I feel like I have so many at this point because I never imagined I would be in this field, much less get as far as I’ve gotten. I’ll give you two since they’re somewhat related. 1. Getting a chance to interview one of my idols, media personality Mouse Jones. It was a full circle moment for me because I’ve been following his career for the past three years. I missed my first two chances to interview him in person, so when he surprisingly reached out to me I knew it was meant to be. 2. My accidental interview with journalist and cultural commentator, Ivie Ani – one of my role models in journalism. I originally reached out to her to get a brief quote for a story I was working on, but she didn’t get back to me in time before I published the article. However, I didn’t want to pass up the chance to pick her brain so I asked if she was open to a full-blown interview for a profile story and she agreed. That interview turned out to be one of the most insightful pieces I’ve written to date.”
What advice would you give aspiring mediapreneurs looking to enter the field?
“Do the work and don’t doubt yourself. For years, I suffered from imposter syndrome because I thought I didn’t belong in this space, but I realized I’m where I am because of how hard I work. People see that and they show love. No one gets anywhere in this industry looking for a handout – you have to show that you have ambition. Every opportunity I’ve been granted was never by chance, but always based on the work I put in. When I packed up and moved to New York, I only dreamed of making a living doing what I love and I’m happy to say that I’m doing that. Even though I’m still not where I want to be, I’ve come a very long way. Stay the course and people will eventually catch on. If you sincerely follow your dreams then the rest will naturally fall into place.”
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