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NBC4's Angie Goff Speaks to Communication Students

Professor Steve Piacente brings in professional journalists like NBC4's Angie Goff to provide a richer experience for students.

Professor Steve Piacente brings in professional journalists like NBC4's Angie Goff to provide a richer experience for students.

American University Professor Steve Piacente invited NBC4’s Angie Goff to speak to his Writing for Communication students so they could hear firsthand the story of how she has risen to prominence in one of the nation’s most competitive markets.

Piacente, who spent 25 years as a daily print journalist before moving into a federal agency as a speechwriter and communications official, has long felt that substantial benefits result when students can interact with working professionals. Past guests include Taylor Shapiro, the youngest full-time reporter at The Washington Post, Jeff Blount, director of NBC News, and the professor's daughter Danielle Piacente, communications manager of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Piacente, the self-published author of Bella and a forthcoming prequel titled Bootlicker, blogs and speaks frequently about his self-publishing experiences. He wrote the following piece after hearing Goff’s account about how she used social media to enhance her reporting on a tragic local story.

TV Reporter Goff’s Discipline Yields Valuable Lessons

A 17-year-old girl collapses in gym class and dies hours later.

A TV journalist and crew pack up to go cover the story. There is no chit-chat during the drive from Washington to suburban Maryland. Instead, the reporter logs onto Facebook, finds friends of the girl, and makes contact. Soon, the reporter is friends with the friends, who send her quotes and photos that enable a richer, more compelling story.

NBC4’s Angie Goff shared the story with Piacente’s class this week at American University.

Embedded within are some key lessons about how to use social media for business purposes.

  1. Think like a handyman: Define the goal, then pick the best tool for the job. Facebook was ideal because it enabled immediate interaction and photo-sharing.
  2. Don’t embarrass your mother. This was a sensitive story, and, while deadlines loomed, Goff showed compassion throughout. Whether you’re reporting from the scene or pitching a book, say please and thank-you, even when online.
  3. Show yourself. Goff maintained the proper professional detachment on the air. Later, on her blog, she admitted that being a mom makes such stories difficult to hear and “even harder to cover.” Your followers know you’re human; it’s okay, and even beneficial, to show it now and then.

In extending our reach, social media tools have made it easy to forget the power of a handshake, or at least a cyber-shake. Facebook is great; Facebook plus face-to-face is better.

For more on Angie Goff, check out this recap of the visit on the class blog from student Kyla Whitmore.