For all those journalists who wondered whether they could start and thrive in their own business, they might be surprised to learn that some of their existing skills are transferable.
And for all those entrepreneurs who wonder what they might be able to learn from media professionals, this article will offer some helpful succinct advice.
Three former journalists who shifted gears into B2B entrepreneurship found their acquired media talents played an integral role in helping them in the corporate world.
From journo to biz coach
Rita Smith’s journalism path took off from Taxi News, where for seven years she wore many hats: writer, editor, layout, distribution and ad sales.
Today, as an Ontario-based Dale Carnegie Business Coach, Smith helps corporations teach their employees to improve performance, manage stress and increase results.
Three major journalism skills have been helpful in developing her corporate career:
- “Journalists think in terms of ‘stories’ which makes it easier to pitch ideas to potential clients. The demand for clear, concise, compelling writing is greater now than it has ever been.”
- “Journalists are trained in research and finding answers quickly, which can be helpful in building a business case.”
- “Interviewing skills are key. Being able to pull the best words and ideas out of the right people is essential. Listening thoughtfully to the answers can be the difference between success and failure.”
Always be selling
Lisa Ann Pinkerton was a former NPR reporter and PBS broadcast reporter who parlayed her skills into three businesses based out of the San Francisco area.
Today, she runs: Technica Communications, a PR and marketing firm that caters to cleantech and sustainability companies; Women in Cleantech and Sustainabilty, the non-profit to promote women in the sector; and a workshop company focused on teaching networking and leadership.
Three major career skill overlaps for her, as she told B2BNN:
- “Selling is selling, no matter if you are selling an idea to an editor or a client.”
- Being a reporter taught her skills at “managing my time and dealing with multiple bosses – customers.”
- “I definitely understand how to help people feel at ease quickly from being a reporter interviewing people who were a bit nervous. That makes it easier for me to get prospective clients to feel relaxed in new business conversations.”
Making it in B2B
Mary Ellen Slayter of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, left a 12-year career in journalism, via the business news department at Washington Post, and finance editor at SmartBrief, to start B2B marketing agency Reputation Capital Media Services.
The firm has grown to service Fortune 500 companies, with five full-time staff and a network of freelancers.
Slayter found the following skills carried over from journalism to B2B:
- “If you can’t describe your target buyer in a single, plain-English sentence, your odds aren’t good.”
- “I know how to tell a good story, selling the concept. Business owners don’t always know how to tell a story. People think of sales as tactical and signed contracts. Long before you get to that point you have to be able to sell that vision to contractors and employees. People don’t respond to numbers. You have to tell them that deeper story. In journalism, that’s true as well.”
- “Like in journalism you need to be able to ask, and get, answers quickly. You have to be independent, evaluate data credibility, assess information and be able to find the phone number of the person you need to find.”
Also, read this Op-Ed on how playing tennis made David Silverberg a better entrepreneur
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