When Warren Buffet spoke at Columbia University, a student asked what he could do now to prepare for a career in investing. As reported in the Omaha World Herald, Buffett thought for a few seconds and then reached for the stack of reports, trade publications and other papers he had brought with him.
“Read 500 pages like this every day,” said Buffett, or words to that effect. “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
The same concept holds true for communications, although I’m not advocating that you read 500 pages every day. Still, one could make the argument that real reading — setting aside time to read articles from start to finish annotating along the way — holds even more value in the communications industry.
And I’m not talking about staying apprised for industry news from PR Week, PR Newser and the like.
Instead, it helps to venture across an eclectic mix of reading that that both stretches and jars your brain.
A few colleagues recently asked me what makes my nightstand (virtual and the wood version). Here are seven suggestion that deplete my stash of 3M stickers often highlighting storytelling techniques:
1. MediaGazer: Brought to you by the same people behind Techmeme, this property aggregates all things media in one place. If you strive to be a student of media — and you should if your job touches communications — MediaGazer deserves a benchmark.
2. The New York Times: I’m not big on the old media guard, but the best newspaper in the country (yes, my opinion) delivers the goods. I’m constantly pulling content from the NYT for my storytelling workshops. You’ll find some of the best storytelling in journalism every Wednesday in the paper’s Dining section. And the tips on restaurants aren’t too shabby either.
3. Smashing Magazine: I’ve penned a number of posts this year on the importance of PR pros evolving their visual storytelling game. Through sheer osmosis, Smashing Magazine will nudge you in this direction. I find the channel on Web Design particularly useful with articles like “A Journey Through Beautiful Typography in Web Design.”
4. Nieman Labs: The publication’s charter is simple: Help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age. One could make an argument that a similar exercise would benefit the communications profession. While Nieman Labs hasn’t diversified into the PR realm, many of the stories have just as much relevance to communicators. After all, we’re students of media.
5. Moz Blog: As explained in our SlideShare, “The Blending of Digital Marketing and PR,” organic search represents a natural extension of PR. Regardless of your expertise, you’ll find fresh insights and what amounts to mini training sessions on the Moz blog.
6.Asia Tech News Review: For those interested in Asia, here’s a painless way to plug into the scene. Jon Russell, who spent three years as The Next Web’s Asia editor before recently taking a gig at TechCrunch — many many years ago Jon worked for our UK office in the bustling metropolis of Egham — curates the most interesting, significant or simply weird news in Asia from the previous week. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
7. Bloomberg Businessweek: You’ll notice that I didn’t hyperlink the publication’s title — the reason being you should fork out the money for the print version. It’s in the hardcopy that you’ll discover cool techniques for visual storytelling that periodically border on experimentation.