Change your career from: Media



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Your new gig: Publicist

WHY: “Your skills as an effective writer and communicator are well suited for internal or external PR,” says career coach Jeff Aulenbach. “I’ve helped get journalists jobs in the communications department of a major New York hospital and into investor-relations jobs with financial firms.”

1 Sell out. A little.
2 Reach out to flacks. Call everyone in your Rolodex whom you haven’t blown off one too many times and let them know you’re not dead. “Tap all the resources you have: parents, school advisers, school alumni, your sorority/fraternity alumni, and attend industry events [like those for PRSSA],” says Heather Flynn, staffing manager at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide.
3 Consider industries that are holding firm or growing: IT, public affairs, health care and anything green. Like many firms with NYC offices, Waggener Edstrom has devoted resources to addressing these sectors: It has a “Social Innovation” division that covers environment, corporate responsibility and global development.
4 Be humble. “Acknowledge you have a lot to learn,” says Jackson Jeyanayagam, a director at PainePR. “Many journalists assume they know it all and can do PR easily. While there is overlap in terms of skill sets, there are some things that you won’t know.”
5 Go agency. If external communications for a particular brand is your aspiration, then find out which PR firm reps it and apply there. “In-house PR could be frustrating as a first job,” says Jeyanayagam. “It’s more cutthroat, there’s more structure, more politics, and it’s less creative.”

Your new gig: Editorial strategist

WHY: “The most significant skill media workers have is the ability to frame complex propositions for larger audiences,” says ESPN the Magazine ed-in-chief Gary Belsky. “We profiled a former sports writer whose job folded. That guy is now in charge of the information on the back of sports trading cards.” Yes, you’re a pithy writer and a solid researcher, but what sets you apart is your ability to bring coherence and voice to any project—like your favorite vodka’s online presence or the content in a mutual fund’s newsletters.

1 Brace yourself: In many cases this position doesn’t exist. There’s an uphill battle here to convince hiring honchos that you’re necessary.
2 Find a need. Think you can punch up the Facebook profile of Brand X? Think that Bank Z’s newsletters lack objectivity, or even coherence?
3 Consider how you would satisfy that need. Keep in mind that your purpose is to carry Brand X’s message from the brain bank to a larger audience—be it the shareholders or consumers.
4 Pitch your ideas to the marketing or development departments. Reach out to associates and others with accessible contact info (you know how to google, right?).
5 Thankfully, a few such positions do exist, under different guises. For example, Todd Tilley, president of Maverick Digital (whose clients include Grey Goose and Citibank), is looking for a social-networking strategist: “We need a writer with media experience and marketing understanding who can not only create content for brands we work with, but can also monitor the conversations between the brands and users on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.” Apply through

Your new gig: Grant writer

WHY:“Grant writing is more similar to journalism than not,” says Deana Murtha, director of foundation giving for Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City. “You’ll be talking to experts to get information on the organization and explaining it to those you’re requesting money from, acting as a liaison between agency and funder.”

1 Volunteer. Many NFP agencies welcome skilled go-getters. “[Nonprofits] always take writers,” says Murtha. Search Once you’re in, get to know your agency and offer to write a few grants. The work will convey your understanding of the organization, as well as your ability to pass that message on to potential funders.
2 Offer to go the “other” route. Funding comes from either foundations and corporations or the government. Should the nonprofit have a grant writer in place working one of these angles, take on the other.

Your new gig: Project manager

WHY:“Media workers have the gifts of adaptability and organization,” says Allison Hemming, founder of the Hired Guns talent agency ( and author of Work It! How to Get Ahead, Save Your Ass and Land a Job in Any Economy. “This makes them ideal project managers.” Launching a new product or revamping a website requires someone who can make sure big and little tasks are completed.

HOW TO GET IT: 1 Get certified. Says Hemming, “Certification as a project-management professional (PMP) shows you take initiative and that you’re familiar with the basics.” The Project Management Institute ( offers PMP certification, as well as prep for the exam. NYU, SVA and other schools also offer project-management courses.
2 Put PMP on your MediaBistro profile, your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook page. “Job-aggregator sites find you via Web searches,” says Hemming. “Keywording your online rsum makes you findable.”

Your new gig: Private investigator

WHY: Doggedness and researching prowess will serve you well as a private dick. So will your lack of squeamishness and the sort of objectivity that will help you weather St. Marks Hotel stakeouts.

1 Be at least 25. Sorry, kid: Like the presidency, this job has an age requirement.
2 Get licensed. Take the $15, 2_-hour walk-up test at the NYS Department of State Division of Licensing Services (; next test Aug 31 at 9:30am). License: $400.
3 Join in. Annual membership in a group like the Associated Licensed Detectives of New York State ( gets you listed in its directory.
4 Get snooping. With your license, your surveillance is legal!


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