April 6th, 2019 - Business Growth

All I really need to know I learned in journalism school

One morning a few months ago, my darling kiddo sent me a text from school announcing she was going to take journalism in university. Whoa. I thought she was teasing me and quickly texted back “Oh good. So many journalism jobs these days … um no. Print is dead!”

I was wrong – not on the print is dead part, the jury is still out. No, I was wrong on the teasing part. She was determined.

So I checked my gut reaction and reflected on my own training in j-school. Over a few days, a few conversations with friends who are working journalists, others like me who shifted gears over the years, and a few glasses of wine with my husband, I slowly changed my mind.

I owe my everything to the things I learned back in journalism school – how I see the world, how I tell a story, how I create a client experience and, yes, even my love for black coffee. It’s all a credit to those gritty, beer soaked days, learning how to poke into the deep recesses of a story and then share the story with the world, marrying words and photos that pull the reader in.

Show, don’t tell

The first rule of journalism is show, don’t tell.

Show, don’t tell is a technique used in various kinds of texts to allow the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author’s exposition, summarization, and description. It avoids adjectives describing the author’s analysis, but instead describes the scene in such a way that the reader can draw his or her own conclusions.


Sounds easy, but as I think back to those first few weeks of college and the red ink on my early and awkward attempts at writing news stories, I can assure you it’s not.

This technique is something I’ve worked on with clients over the years with some surprising results. We create websites that tell these stories that get readers passionately involved and they reach out. They want to find out more. They want to ride with this business that expresses itself differently.

Perfect. Right? KaChing!!!

Nope. Here is where I see the first of a couple huge, aching, nasty gaps in the client experience.

A potential client comes calling, all prepped from your website and perhaps your social media presence, they book a meeting, and over the course of the conversation the spark in their voice slowly extinguishes. Why?

People inevitably forget to carry that first rule of Show, Don’t Tell to the sales pitch. Nerves take over. Details about contracts and dollars creep in. And the prospect fades away.

Funny, that. At the most critical juncture – closing the sale – the ball gets dropped … over and over again.

There’s an easy fix. Sales tools and process.

Developing vibrant sales tools that help you tell your story, keep you on track through the discussion, and close the business are vital. Think flow charts that follow your process or handouts that outline your services with the help of gorgeous photos and page turning prose. These tools are gold.

I know this from personal experience. Using the Blackcoffee toolkit with clients turns those sparks into burning fires of desire. And I have seen the same results when my clients invest. 

Blackcoffee’s Sales Kit Converts

Check out the Blackcoffee Services Magazine

Sales tools mean your story continues to be perfectly told. They provide a means to keep your sales conversation on-track. And they tell your potential clients you’re a professional, that you’ve got this, that they’re hard earned dollars are safe with you.

Want to learn more about building a strong sales process and creating tools that keep the story spinning? Email me at Shannon@BlackcoffeeStudio.com.

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at www.BlackcoffeeStudio.com


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.