Media + MarComm
Media + MarComm
Three Nuggets of Advice for Entry-Level Job Seekers and Intermediate/Next Step Employees Looking for New Opportunities
I recently met with a graduating senior from a local university who conducted an informational interview with me to learn more about launching a career in writing and communications. In the past, I managed intern programs at companies and organizations as mentoring students and offering them the opportunity to learn, grow and most importantly, walk away with hands-on work experience while learning about real workplace culture, has always been something I’ve been passionate about. Why? Because when I was an intern, so many professionals in the media space did the same for me. My most memorable was at WBFF Fox 45 in Baltimore, where I went out in the field on countless news stories, from the tragic (I admit, my mouth was agape the first time I saw a body bag being zipped up), to the “didn’t see THIS happening today” (asking Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, a question in a presser!). I also remember the real talk. One multiple EMMY-award winning longtime reporter at the station sat me down in the news van while we were waiting on a live shot to tell me that in her experience, a career in broadcast journalism had been rewarding beyond compare, and one she wouldn’t trade for anything – but came with many, many personal sacrifices. She gave it to me straight.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve always accepted invitations to talk to classes at University of Rhode Island, Salve Regina University and Johnson & Wales (one time I used the word “Rolodex” in a talk and it was evident the students had no idea what I was referring to…). This much I know is true: getting your foot in the door can be intimidating. I’ve put together some quick tips to get noticed:
1 – Your cover letter is your only chance to prove your case that you want this job and you’re the best person for it. First, show to the company you’ve done your research. Employers can see right through a generic “insert company here” cover letter. Point to something that resonated with you – maybe it’s an initiative the company or organization recently launched, or something they made headlines for, or maybe it was something the CEO said in a speech. Be specific. "I like your company's Instagram" isn't specific. "I like how you leveraged your social media community for buy-in when you launched your 'Shop Local' promotion to create a positive, community-wide economic impact to help struggling small businesses during the pandemic" is specific.
2 – Highlight where your experience match position’s responsibilities and qualifications – even if it’s in an untraditional way. Doesn't it make you head spin when an entry-level position also requires a few years of experience?! Here's what: experience is gained in myriad ways. If you were a student reporter, you’re accustomed to demanding deadlines and you have demonstrated storytelling skills. If you organized a food drive on campus or in your community, you’re experienced in logistics and you possess project management skills. Where have you had to work collaboratively, or had to utilize your organizational skills, including multitasking and time management? Don’t be intimidated by a job posting’s qualifications – that’s the brass ring. Still apply if you see places where your skills and their needs align. Let them know you’re a quick learner who adapts swiftly.
3 – Networking is a given, but how do you actually network when you’re just starting out? I’m going to let you in on a secret. Ninety-nine out of 100 people are intrinsically altruistic (just look at Facebook – someone throws a question out there like, ‘Where’s the best local pizza joint?’ and the replies pile up one after another). Identify people doing what you want to do, or at companies that excite you, and reach out to ask for 10 minutes of their time to have an informational interview. How’d they get there? What do they love about their job and what is the most challenging aspect of it? And ask what their advice is for someone looking to launch a career in that field.
Don't forget to have a few set of eyes review your resume and even your cover letter drafts. Customize your resume for each position to show where your experience and their needs align (and save them in a folder so you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time!).
Lastly, a thank you note is obvious, but take it to the next step by sending an actual hard copy thank you note. Mail it on the same day to expedite delivery. Oh, and don’t get discouraged. Easier said than done, but be positive, be persistent and keep going.
I’ve been endlessly fascinated with the systemic shift in America’s workforce. Side hustles have become full time jobs, companies that once declared working from home impossible have transitioned to all-remote or hybrid workplaces, employees and job candidates have been rethinking their relationship to work and re-evaluating their priorities altogether, and more people than ever are asking themselves, “what do I truly want?” The Great Resignation is real. A record-high number of American workers ‒ approximately 38 million ‒ left their jobs in 2021.
As professionals rethink, retool and reinvent, I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of questions since launching this site. In the past year, I’ve advised more businesses than I can count about content growth, media leverage, PR and digital marketing, and I’ve had long discussions with individuals looking to create a website that showcases their professional experience so that they have a digital presence beyond their resume to attract new opportunities. If you’re looking for some insight on the latter, I recently shared this advice:
1. Decide if you want to DIY your website or outsource. I thought long and hard about building my own website, and even took a deep dive when exploring platforms including Squarespace, Wix and Weebly. Ultimately, I decided it was too important to leave it to trial and error on my part, so I found a creative whose portfolio best aligned with my vision.
2. Have a solid understanding of your needs. Ex.: Shopify and Squarespace have all the e-commerce bells and whistles and point-of-sale features you need to start, run, and grow your business. Conversely, if you don’t need e-commerce, you can look for a simpler platform and hosting package. It’s like jeans: just because one brand might be amazing for somebody else doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you.
3. Do the work. Even if you’re outsourcing, your designer will be looking for you to provide content. Think of it like this: you’re providing the chef with all the amazing ingredients so they can work their magic. Collect your images. If you don’t have existing photography, a branding shoot is well worth the investment. It doesn’t have to be extensive — short and sweet will get the job done and you can repurpose images for social, marketing collateral and more. Also, look for relevant stock images on sites like Unsplash or Pexels.
4. Decide on the pages you need by keeping your audience top of mind. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple — you can always add more pages. Once you’ve established your pages, you can better organize the copy. If you’re not confident in your writing, that’s fine (that’s what people like me are for!). Make a list of key points you want to convey and work from there.
The more you have teed up in advance for your web designer, the smoother and quicker the process will be for you both.
Got questions? ➡Reach out here.
You know the old adage about the cobbler’s kids? I can relate. My career is centered on working with clients to create or improve communication with their audience, whether via media coverage, e-commerce, newsletters, their social media platforms or digital content. And yet, I haven’t made my communication on this platform, nor my website’s blog, since officially launching Andrea McHugh Media last year. The great news is I’ve been too busy working to do so, but no time like the present to revisit career goals.
I set out to dedicate these two digital spaces to offer helpful tips and tricks, new tools and resources, industry trends and other nuggets to learn from, be inspired by, or bookmark for future use. I’ve created an editorial calendar with monthly posts, so if you’re following, thank you; and if you like what you see, please share.
So, in this first post of 2022, I want to challenge you to update your media list. No time like the start of a new year to perform a quick audit because I can guarantee you’ll find new or outdated contacts, reporters and writers who have changed publications or beats, and new talent as well.
Next, edit your list. When it comes to your media list, it’s the quality of your contacts, not the quantity, that matters. Remember, the quickest way to get on a publication’s bad side is to send your press release to everyone in the newsroom. Media is stretched thin as it is, doing more than ever. Irrelevant emails are a time suck. Only send your release or story idea to writers who cover your industry or genre. In other words, the food critic has no interest in your new commercial development, unless it’s food-related, and the education reporter isn’t interested in covering health care trends. When in doubt, send your release to the general email box (usually the news@..., newsdesk@..., or info@...) as those mailboxes are typically checked regularly. (You can CC a general mailbox if you have a specific contact’s name, just in case.) Lastly, be sure to keep your release or story idea informative but concise, and be sure to mention if you have images or b-roll.
Click the title There’s nothing quite like the clean slate of a new blog’s inaugural post. New, fresh, and everywhere to go from here. I know a thing or two about blogging. I launched Newport Stylephile a dozen years ago. No literally, it was TWELVE years ago, and it’s brought me some pretty amazing opportunities. Save for some articles I’ve written for national or regional publications related to lifestyle topics, Newport Stylephile has been mostly independent of my work. I launched it when I was a magazine editor and I learned about cool things and cooler people and interesting places that maybe didn’t land a space between the pages of a pub, but had an extraordinary story to tell nonetheless. I continue to post lifestyle content on NS, but this space is dedicated to tips, trends, insights and innovations for marketers, communicators, content creators and media mavens — in a nutshell: practical advice — all from an insider’s point of view. Click the title to link directly to the podcast.
So, let’s jump right in. I’m highlighting not just podcasts I’ve devoured over the past year of the ‘ol pandy, but specific episodes I took nuggets of advice from, dished out by thought leaders, trailblazers and risk-takers. Sometimes you just need to hear the right thing at the right time and the magic happens.
1.) Skimm’d From the Couch: Diane Von Furstenberg (April 7, 2021)
The first pod out of the gate is a trilogy of business, finance and ... fashion? Hear me out. Diane Von Furstenberg founded her company in 1972 and five years later, appeared on the cover of Newsweek as the portrait of the successful businesswoman (it was the 70s and it was radical). She’s had epic successes and admitted failures. She is the daughter of a Holocuast survivor, a mother and a grandmother, a women’s lib warrior, and she’s seemingly unstoppable. On this episode of Skimm’d, Von Furstenberg talks about being a child and not knowing exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up, but knew she wanted to be “a woman in charge,” and how today, being in charge means keeping a commitment to ourselves. Seventy-four years young, Von Furstenberg says to own our imperfections and make them our assets, to show our vulnerability so it becomes our strength, and to deal with the obstacles placed in front of us. She concedes that despite her success, she still experiences self-doubt. “Many days I wake up ... and I feel like a loser. Only losers don’t feel like losers (sometimes),” she says -- but those feelings let you reinvent yourself every day." Spend 25 minutes listening to this inspirational titan.
2.) Just B with Bethenny Frankel: Jonathan Adler (March 2, 2021)
Famed Housewife and self-made serial entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel has a big personality, and on her Just B with Bethenny Frankel podcast, she only wants big guests. Just half a year in and she’s hosted Hillary Clinton, Mark Cuban, John Paul DeJoria, Maria Shriver, Chelsea Handler and other luminaries. Frankel’s format is a short opener with her take on a hot topic or mundane observation followed by a 25 minute interview with her guest, so fast forward to about the 10-minute mark if you want to just jump right into this funny, self-deprecating interview. What I loved about Jonathan Adler was his candor. So often, the uber successful talk about their journey with rose colored glasses, leaving out the struggles, the moments of doubt, or the bankruptcy filing; painting their career trajectory as nothing short of meteoric. Adler talks about being somewhat aimless after college and how his affinity for making pottery unexpectedly turned into a career (he was surprised the first time someone called him an “artist”). His rise to the top was organic; less cost–benefit analysis, more trusting your gut. And he’s just so darn charming.
3.) Skimm’d From the Couch: Kristen Welker (Feb. 28, 2021)
Since she’s living one of my dream jobs, I was all ears when Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News (and co-anchor of Weekend TODAY) Kristen Welker was the guest on this episode. In it, Welker talks about the tireless work she put in at the very start of her career, covering small town city hall meetings -- not quite “bright lights, big city” news. But the lesson she learned was to say what you want out loud and be willing to work your ass off for it. People notice passion, she noted. Welker also talks about how she still gets nervous doing her job from time to time, including when she moderated the final presidential debate of 2020. “It’s okay to be nervous. It means you're challenging yourself. It means you're doing something important and it means you're doing something that you really care about.”