By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
Yesterday, we interviewed Maurice Cherry about his creation of the Black Weblog Awards. Today, we speak with him about his day job as founder of 3eighteen Media, a design studio based in Atlanta that specializes in web design, logo design, WordPress themes, e-mail marketing, copywriting, and a host of other services. We speak with Cherry about his company and why journalists should consider his services.
NABJDigital: You graduated from Morehouse. What was your major?
Maurice Cherry: Mathematics
ND: How did your major prepare you for the work you’re doing now at 3eighteen media?
MC: Not at all, actually! I studied pure Math — advanced calculus, topology, measure-theoretic entropy… fun stuff like that. My masters degree is in network and telecommunications management, although it’s like a cross between an MBA and an MIS. The concepts I learned there about finance and project management have helped me immensely with my business.
ND: What does 3eighteen stand for?
MC: It’s the month and day of my birth (3/18). I decided to have it as 3eighteen because I thought it looked more unique. Plus, the number 3 and the letter E together sort of look like the glyph for my astrological sign, Pisces.
ND: It seems like shops like yours are springing up all over. You have plenty of business and a great client list. What is it that your firm offers that others don’t?
MC: I have a very broad skill set that you normally would not find in a one-man shop. I’m a web designer, logo designer, copywriter, e-mail marketing whiz and I’m very knowledgeable on the psychology behind web design. I know what works for a site’s design depending on what their business goals are, and I’m good with color theory and meaning. I’ve also worked with several different types of clients ranging from big government to small mom-and-pop businesses.
ND: With all the changes in journalism, more of us are starting to brand ourselves. What advice would you give for those who want to take this path?
MC: Don’t shy away from the Internet because you think it’s too technological. The path to entry for starting a blog, shooting a video, or recording audio is lower than ever. The tools are often either free or very affordable.
Learn from those journalists out there who have effectively branded themselves as multimedia journalists such as Amani Channel and Mark S. Luckie. Create your own stories. Talk to bloggers. The best way to amplify your voice is to help out others online. Get out there and be social with social media. There’s so much journalists can do to brand themselves online.
ND: You know journalists are all on a budget. What tools would you advise us to use in creating our own brand, if we can’t afford to use a shop like yours?
MC: Creating your brand isn’t all about creating a website. If you have a webcam and an Internet connection, you can have your own weekly show on YouTube or Kyte or Blip.tv. Audio editing tools like Audacity are free and easy to use. And of course for blogging, WordPress is free, and there are a lot of free themes available. If a journalist is looking to create their brand, they shouldn’t lead with their wallet. You may be surprised how many shops will work with you (particularly if they have a low overhead).
ND: Overall why do you think it’s important for companies to work with a firm like yours for their online branding and marketing needs?
MC: Companies should definitely do their homework when it comes to shopping for a firm. Check out their client list, look at testimonials, and don’t be afraid to ask the clients how they felt the firm worked with them. And of course, look and see what the company is doing for themselves in terms of branding and marketing. Do they have other projects they are involved with in ther community? What are they doing to give back to their industry as a whole? Those sorts of things are important to establish a relationship with a great firm.
ND: Among the work you’ve done for your clients, which projects are you the most proud of, and why?
MC: I am probably the most proud of the work I did with the Borders for Atlanta mayoral campaign. It was such an intense experience during such a short amount of time, and every day presented a new set of challenges. I worked with e-mail marketing, social media, content management, finance, fundraising, volunteering, canvassing…you name it. And while my client did not win, the work we did set precedents for how social media and technology works with non-Presidential campaigns. As a matter of fact, I will have a book out this summer on how to use these tools in a political campaign.