Or, how Startup Institute taught me what I already know...sort of...but actually not really
Learning how to be a digital marketer for the last eight weeks taught me that at the end of the day, I'm a journalist through and through, in sickness and in health, for richer and (usually) poorer, until death by probably binge drinking do us part.
Well no DUH you're a journalist, Veronica. You had to go back to school to learn that?
Actually, yes, I did. Sort of.
Journalism doesn't always treat me well. Case in point, I went through my second layoff in less than two years in February. One day you're managing editor of three magazines, and then the next day, you're watching "The Simpsons" in your pajamas at 3 p.m. and making microwave nachos.
Getting laid off twice felt like the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results (results being gainful employment). I needed to pivot, and I decided to do it at Startup Institute. I knew two women who went there and came out of it with new skills, fabulous jobs and a sizable network of Boston tech movers and shakers.
So by "pivot" you mean "selling out."
Hey now wait a minute, voice in my head. Be fair. It's true, I did try to wear a marketer's clothes during Startup Institute, but they never fit right. The pant legs were too short, the blazer buttons didn't close, and don't even get me started on what they did for my butt (or rather didn't do).
This ill-fitting marketer's outfit repulsed me at first, and I didn't hold back in voicing my discomfort. But about four weeks into Startup Institute, I realized I didn't have to buy the entire outfit, but arm myself with the accessories my journalist outfit lacked: a nice pair of SEO shoes, some pay-per-click earrings, a retargeting belt and social media scarf, and to top it all off, a Google Analytics handbag.
There are plenty of people who rock the marketer outfit, many of whom I'm grateful to call my friends. They're unbelievably smart, tenacious and spreading the word about valuable products and services. To them I say, thank you for letting me raid your closet.
Cheesy fashion analogies aside, Startup Institute did more for mentally and emotionally than I thought possible. I feel reinvigorated about my journalistic future, my strength and energy replenished after the emotional roller coaster that is a second layoff. I want to keep finding news and sharing it across the globe thanks of all of these nifty new marketing skills.
Perhaps most importantly, I realize how crucial online audience development is to the future of journalism, and not just because subscription revenue means we get paid more than peanuts. More and more we rely on algorithms to decide what information we will and won't be privy to. We have a huge responsibility as journalists to make sure the principles of forum and fairness are upheld and our ability to affect change isn't lessened.
The Startup Institute Spring Talent Expo is like a vow renewal for me and journalism. I get to publicly declare my love for my soul mate ever since I was young enough to read the Sunday paper with my dad over waffles. Journalism and I go together like bacon and eggs.
In other words, I IS JOURNALISM.
Veronica Graham is a Boston-based journalist for hire with a knack for connecting media outlets with unique stories and the digital savvy to grow audiences that convert to subscribers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @vlhgraham