By: Ajel Balan
Photo Credit: James Parris
Meet James Parris - a senior of UMBC graduating this semester, completing his Media and Communication Studies major along with his Entrepreneurship minor. With an active mind and interest for business and marketing, Parris has started his own business in the form of a podcast, “The Jimbo Parris Show” - where he sits down with guests and have long-form conversations about their lives, the goal being to have these conversations teach and empower anyone about these topics such as marketing, business, and event things like art and spirituality.
Prior to creating this podcast, Parris used to own a reggae radio station, where he would put his focus on making episodes around music, with interviewing people occasionally. Over time, he realized his passion with interviewing and its cost effectiveness of cutting the business down into purely interviewing.
He attributes some of his success to his wonderful experience with his internship with General Electric. They would craft plans to attract a younger and authentic audience to the company. They want to work with influencers like Parris to draw people in. After the interviews, he would create snippets, ads, and reels that would display the scientist not as “a bunch of white men in stuffy suits talking about numbers”, but as a diverse group of individuals with passion for their work.
When it comes to courses in UMBC, he finds MCS 355 - Social Media: Networking and Mobility, MCS 334 - Media, Communication and Globalization, and MCS 499 - Capstone Seminar to be the most influential when trying to decide his path. It was through MCS 355, however, that he would find his direction. Taught by Dr. Donald Snyder, Parris goes into detail on how this class changed his perspective on the use of social media in marketing. He notes, “it showed me that social media was both an art and a science. I needed to see social media, not just in a purely logical standpoint of SEO promotions, et cetera, but there's people involved, there's emotions involved. When I began to understand that emotional aspect, I started to move my business in a direction focused more on inbound marketing, like content creation. It was no longer this fake, inorganic way of hunting people down. So it changed the general strategies I used.” He adds that even now, he keeps the textbooks used for the marketing class.
You would think that managing a business alongside doing university would put a strain on him, but Parris disagrees - as he notes the importance of passion when it comes to school and his business. Parris explains, “When you do something that's along what your purpose is, what you need to do, you're going to be able to perform well. And I think, maybe this is just me, but I think more people really need to focus in on the things that they're passionate about. This way, it's no longer a strain. Every Friday when I go down, sit down in my chair to do a show, or every Wednesday, I have a meeting with my team, it doesn't feel like work”.