If you’re looking to change your career path and transition from one industry to another, it might seem a bit scary. However, when you are able to carry over skills and lessons learned from one industry to another, it can make the process easier. I recently went from working in a busy newsroom in a top 10 market to working in digital marketing. These are five things I took from working in news that have made that transition easier and make me a better marketer:
- Know Who You Are Pitching and Why
- Write an Error-Free Pitch Email
- A Follow-Up Email Never Killed Anyone
- Don’t Call
- Don’t Be Rude
While I enjoyed working in news and appreciate the skills I gained from working in a bustling environment, I wanted something different in my career. This is why I decided to make the transition:
I’ve always been a news junkie, so I knew from a young age that I wanted to go into journalism. In high school, I started taking journalism classes, was on the yearbook staff, and was the editor of my high school’s newspaper. In college, I studied journalism and business and eventually got a degree in both.
Not long after graduating, I went on to work as an assignment desk editor and digital content producer for a station in Syracuse, NY. I moved through positions in the news/media industry and eventually ended up as the assistant editor of a lifestyle website in Washington, D.C. I loved every minute of it.
It was during my time at the lifestyle website that I started getting curious about PR and marketing. In the years I was working in the news industry, I had a lot of friends and colleagues leave journalism and go onto PR/marketing, so I knew the transition was possible and I wanted to see what the appeal was. I started getting coffee with these people and learning more about the business. I even attended events that were sponsored by PR and marketing agencies.
One day, it just clicked that it was time for me to make the leap. It was not an easy decision to leave, but one that I don’t regret. I am now on the opposite side of those pitches, working directly with clients, and I luckily have the opportunity to still be creative every day.
I was also lucky that I could still use my experience in news here at Go Fish Digital. I specifically call upon five key lessons I learned during my time working in the news that I apply to my job every single day:
Know Who You Are Pitching and Why:
There is nothing more annoying than receiving an email that has absolutely nothing to do with your city or is in no way related to what you typically write about. When I was a journalist, I received a lot of emails that just got deleted with hardly a second thought.
Now as the person sending out pitches, I always try to make accurate outreach lists. If you’re going to be successful in PR or marketing, you have to get your stuff in front of the right people. Additionally, by creating outreach lists that have solid contacts, you open up the opportunity to form good relationships with writers who typically cover topics that could be a good fit for your clients. There is nothing better than a writer who looks forward to seeing your email in their inbox.
Write an Error-Free Pitch Email:
I can’t tell you how many emails I received with my name spelled wrong or that had inaccurate information. While sometimes I would still reply to these messages (a lot of times I wouldn’t), it is always nice to have an error-free email. The less work you create for a reporter, the better your chances are of getting coverage for a client. Lay the information out for the reporter in a clear and concise way.
If an email is easily digestible, the less time you have to waste going back and forth with a reporter.
A Follow-Up Email Never Killed Anyone:
I think this one might be 50/50 depending on who you ask, but in my opinion, a follow-up email never hurts. There would be days when my inbox would just be loaded with unread emails or, even if I read an email, I would sometimes get caught up in the day and completely forget I read it. This is where a follow-up email comes in handy.
Pro tip: News organizations will have slow days! Send that follow up email. Maybe the first day you sent it, they were too busy. Maybe the second time they are having a slow day and you could get lucky. This could increase your chances of coverage.
P.S. Don’t send more than one follow-up email.
Never call a journalist unless they specifically request you to. They might not be answering your pitch emails because they are just not interested. Putting them on the spot with a phone call is just awkward and you run the chance of jeopardizing your relationship with that reporter. Send your initial email and one follow-up. If you don’t hear anything back, call it a day.
Don’t Be Rude:
Being rude or pushy won’t get you anywhere with a reporter and could, again, jeopardize your relationship with them. The news world is a small one and you don’t want to burn any bridges in your outreach journey. Remember: These are real people who often work long hours and have a lot on their plate. They have their good days and their bad days just like the rest of us, and it is important to keep that in mind.
There was definitely a learning curve that came with transitioning into marketing, but being able to take my skills and knowledge from my time in the news industry has helped me make the transition a little smoother.
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