It was a big decision for me to move away from a career in broadcast journalism.
I liked everything about a newsroom environment: the latest news, researching topics, identifying sources for stories, and feeling like I have an impetus for trends and problems in the world.
I was also successful in it. In fact, I've worked at some of the largest news companies in the world, including CNN, ABC News, CBSLA, and others.
At some point – because I spent so much time on social media looking for the latest news and ideas for stories – my interest in social media developed.
I knew I wanted to make a transition, but I was afraid to take a leap and turn to social media marketing.
Today I can tell you that I am so happy that I did it. I have learned that my job is not my entire identity, and through journalism I have so many transferable skills to be successful in any industry.
Changing careers can feel exciting, but brings feelings of self-doubt and fear.
Here I want to highlight how broadcast journalism has helped me succeed on social media and tips you can use if you are thinking about moving your own career.
7 lessons from journalism that you can use on social media
1. Ask the 5 W questions.
WHO? What? Where? When? and why? These questions are anchored in every journalist.
The basic questions about collecting messages also apply to content creation, marketing plans, and any content strategy. For example, every marketer is likely to ask the following daily questions:
Who is this message for?
What is the key message that you should dissuade from it?
When (and where) are you most likely to consume this message?
Why should you care?
"Why" also goes a little deeper on social media. The Internet is flooded with information and it is your job to attract someone's attention – and to draw their attention to your content.
Why should someone click this ad?
Why are we targeting this group?
Why is it important that you see this message?
The root of these questions helped me break through the jargon of promotions and company announcements to get to the root of the message in the simplest words.
Per tip: In the journalism school, I learned to simplify the facts by "explaining this story to my mother". This framework really helped me to simplify information to the core. I often practice this when I try to get a complex company announcement the easiest way.
2. Focus on the core story, not the details.
When it comes to content creation, journalists have a unique element that they bring to the table: storytelling.
Some people may be involved in numbers, the slogan, a paragraph in an announcement, etc.
As a former journalist, I think about the core of the message that we want to convey in a social contribution.
The key to take away could include visual elements and emotional triggers, but its foundation will include a concise message or story.
3. Stay up to date on industry and competitor trends.
The advantage that journalism has given me when doing research is that even if you have an intuitive feel for your audience, your journalistic instincts will force you to "look inside" and confirm your hypothesis.
For example, to do market research – including what my audience feels, thinks, fights, dreams, reads, etc. – I put on my "investigative" hat and check out Facebook groups or other websites that people use can go to comments or questions (like Quora or Amazon reviews) to gather information about what my audience sees, thinks, and feels.
In addition, a number of keyword searches provide me with a framework that I can use to research.
By referring to the latest studies, trends, and reports, I can identify overlaps and become a successful social media professional because I am always informed about topics that are most important to my audience.
A little research is a long way in terms of content and writing on social media.
Journalists are curious people by nature, so we are sometimes entertained by trends and topics that make people talk. We want to get involved quickly with such behavior and find out what the hype is about, who started it and why it takes off.
It's amusing to say the least, but this innate ability of journalists has helped me on social media because I can (mostly) keep up with the latest memes, videos, or other trend news that are popular that day or week . It also helps me to remember previous news events or trends that were popular in the past.
The context of topics, target groups and trends helps me make editorial or marketing decisions and create content.
4. Create high quality content, even with minimal effort.
When creating content, journalists had to work with small or large restrictions when telling a story. You may have few usable sound bits, poor video quality, or you may only be working with sound.
Broadcast journalism has helped me feel comfortable improvising and maximizing all the available assets.
I learned how to edit video, audio and photography. I learned different storytelling formats such as radio, TV, print and online as well as how to differentiate each piece (i.e. infographic, video, blog post, listicle) and how to adapt it to different social media platforms .
I have learned to do this as precisely as possible, which has helped me enormously when writing short headings and easy-to-understand texts that contain a call to action.
5. Write precisely and let every word count.
Whether it's writing text, writing with the voice of a brand, creating catchy headlines and titles, making copies that convert a user, including a call to action, or enticing a reader to learn more in everything is important to social media.
Broadcast journalism helped my social media career solely with my writing skills. Ultimately, it is so important on social media to pack information precisely.
Twitter has a 280 character limit. However, I am proud that I learned how to write tweets when there is a 140 character limit – including the number of characters for photos, videos and GIFs attached!
Brevity is always a proven method when it comes to writing on social media, and broadcast journalism has helped me to be successful.
Effective writing helps your audience understand you, what you offer, and your value, and is an important skill to attract an online audience.
Per tip: Practice reading your words out loud to identify typing errors or unpleasant sentence structures. I learned this from writing television news texts and it helped me tremendously in creating social media posts.
6. Learn how to communicate effectively in a crisis.
Social media is an extension of every brand and it is important to understand when something poses a reputational risk.
My career in broadcast journalism has helped me identify potential pitfalls or anticipate comments that people may make. The last thing I want to do is look deaf or miss the brand with marketing messages.
Working in broadcast journalism has trained me to never lessen my vigilance and always keep my eyes open for threats or liabilities in social posts, marketing campaigns, and images.
I also understand news cycles and during a crisis I learned to develop and adapt to new circumstances and information.
For example, during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, different phases of the crisis communication companies had to be understood. Among other things, it was important to stop marketing and messaging, to pan, to identify weaknesses and to reposition your brand.
Through years of working with so many PR and marketing professionals, I've learned how to "own" a brand story and how to act as a brand manager on social media.
7. Stay resourceful and help your audience find answers to their needs.
I say I'm a strategist for digital content, but really a professional problem solver.
If I don't have an answer, I will either find the answer or someone who does.
Radio journalism taught me to be resourceful, to help my audience with valuable and actionable information, to think quickly and to choose smart points of view.
I've come across so many random scenarios while working on social media, including:
- Convert and transfer files
- Help people with their WiFi
- Synchronize folders on Sharepoint
- Identify fonts
- Pitching a story on behalf of the company
- Search for an alternative channel or format for communicating a message
- Procurement of videos to the original owner
You name it, I probably helped someone find out something, so I am invaluable to my team and my company.
I solve people's problems (personally and online), which makes me feel like I am doing a great social service.
Journalists have a great opportunity in the areas of marketing, social media, content strategy, storytelling and advertising. If you are on the fence, I recommend you take the plunge.