Marverine Cole is a Journalist and Broadcaster, operating as a Sole Trader. Cole and her husband own and run an independent production company, specialising in corporate video production.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
As a little girl, I was inspired to become a Television News Journalist when I saw Moira Stewart and Sir Trevor McDonald reading the news on TV. So ‘I had a dream’, but I didn’t actually broadcast for real until I’d graduated from my first degree. I was 22 yrs old and I was a volunteer DJ, playing songs and reading out requests for poorly children and their relatives on Radio Lollipop, which was based at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
On the first day of my Broadcast Journalism post-grad, my lecturer, Prof Diane recorded us all speaking about our future ambitions. I said I wanted to anchor on a rolling news channel and start up an indie. So I’d always had a fair idea of what I wanted to achieve but I never mapped it out, saying in five years time I want to do this or that.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
I’ve always faced unusual reactions to me and what I do. On many occasions there’s been an incredulous reaction to my potential and what I’ve achieved. When I was a Radio News Reporter people seemed to be wowed by my work, but I wasn’t really breaking sweat. I was getting the job done: be that doing a ride-along with West Midlands Police on a dawn drugs raid, delivering updates and verdicts on Crown Court cases or Inquests, or reporting from the scene of a fatal fire. I relished my job and I don’t think I did anything vastly different from my fellow news reporters. All I knew was that the newsrooms I worked in were not used to see a black woman working there.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position in media for the first time?
You have to prove yourself and your expertise in your field before you can attempt to step into a position of leadership. At the end of the day, it’s all about credibility and authority. I couldn’t have managed video journalists without having built up a track record of solid news production and delivery, because the people I was managing wouldn’t have respected my decisions. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have had courage in my convictions if I didn’t feel I had the experience to lead a team. That’s just how I operate.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
I don’t have a typical work day. I’m a freelance journalist and my work varies. One day I might be editing my latest podcast interview, writing a newsletter to accompany it and producing graphics to go with that content. The next day I might be out on location shooting a film for ITN, the next I’m examining the footage and writing scripts for those films or editing them. I conduct Media Training and workshops for firms and individuals. I might be Skype mentoring aspiring broadcasters another day. I’ve been mentoring for more than a decade now, and that was mainly driven by the fact that people kept asking me ‘How did you get to be on TV? How do you become a TV or Radio Presenter? Can you give me some advice so I can start my own journey?’
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations? Particularly in the media, and women of colour
My best advice is to embrace social media. I meet a lot of women over 40 years old who say ‘I run a business, but I can’t stand social media. Why does anyone want to post a photo of what they had for breakfast?’
But the truth is social media is a tool to be harnessed. And if you want to drive business, you’ve gotta get in and swim. I don’t mean that cynically, because I certainly don’t class myself as a Social Media expert. But I observe how people are making a success of using Facebook, Twitter, Insta, YouTube and Snapchat and it’s fascinating. There’s so much to be learned by watching others. We need to be in the mindset of replicating successes to be successful in business. With social media, you can join communities and get involved, you can really engage and make new connections and friends, and also build you own community: which can also be incredibly powerful and satisfying.
All the aspiring broadcasters who I mentor, I recommend them setting up social media profiles, and start following people you’re interested in learning more about and engaging.
How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?
I mentor but I’ve never been mentored. And it’s one thing I think I’ve missed out on in life. I would love a media industry mentor.
Do you think networking is important and if so, what three tips would you give to a newbee networker?
Networking comes in many forms: the formal networking events are fine, but I prefer events. Being Britain’s first ever black British beer sommelier, I’ve hosted lots of beer and food matching events for women over the years. I think attending ‘out of your comfort zone’ events or active events like these, are a great way of having fun and meeting new people.
My Top Three Tips are
- ‘Relax’ . Don’t go into a networking event thinking ‘I need three solid business leads out of this event’
- Think long-term: the connections you make and help make might only pay off years in the future
- Be you. Don’t pretend to anything you’re not. People will either accept you or they won’t. If they don’t, their loss.
What does the future hold for you?
I’ve suddenly and unexpectedly been thrust into the world of academia, which is quite exciting. I was asked to teach a semester of Broadcast Journalism to undergraduates in Media & Communication at Birmingham City University. I’d done some Visiting Lecturing on a very small scale previously at the University of Wolverhampton: but nothing like the BCU work. It really dovetails with the mentoring I’ve done, the talks at I’ve given in the past at schools, colleges and Universities and also the extensive freelance media training I’ve helped deliver for the BBC Academy over the last decade or so.
Now I’ve the chance to take up some postgrad pedagogical studies and become a qualified Lecturer. I’m excited about where that could go because I’d like to be nurturing the broadcast journalists of the future in a more structured way.
I’m also enjoying developing my new content in the form of Quintessential, Britain’s biggest conversation celebrating women of colour. There’s a huge, huge list of incredible BAME women I want to interview for that. I’ve already landed some inspirational women who you don’t hear a lot about when it comes to their personal stories and journeys: Singer Laura Mvula, former Senior Beauty Editor Anita Bhagwandas, Founder of Black Ballad Tobi Oredein, actress Tameka Empson from Eastenders and Googlebox star, Sandra Martin.
I’d like to see Quintessential grow way beyond just me conducting all of the interviews. I’d like to be able to train up and enable aspiring young female journalists to do produce with me eventually. Of course, also being a live TV broadcaster, I’d like to see the format morph into a television version, a talk-show perhaps, a la Oprah. At the moment costs are prohibitive in terms of finding TV studios.
Maybe one day a dynamic brand or channel, that really sees the value in reaching, engaging with and nurturing a black and ethnic minority female audience, might want to invest in developing a TV proposition with me. I love watching BET International, and I just believe there’s so much potential there for original British programming to help the channel grow in the European market, so you never know. I put my trust in God that this will happen someday.