Has old media’s not-so-sudden collapse killed your job? Got you laid-off?Do you have the gut feeling you’re next in line?
You’ve worked your your arse off, and the good thing is, if you do get canned, you’ll have more time to figure out what exactly it is you want to do.
In the soothing words of a former colleague: “A career is a zig-zag, not a straight line.” And in an industry where newsrooms are shrinking and jobs are scarce, that’s pretty good advice.
Follow your bliss. If it’s journalism, then avoid listening to the horror stories of people failing to find work. There are plenty of ways to remain in the media.
title=”After getting the pink slip, raid your rolodex and work your contacts”
content=”Before packing up your boxes and peacing out, if you haven’t done so already, forward information for every professional contact, source and fellow media person to your personal email accounts.
Send them a blind-copied note en masse — or reach out individually — so they are aware of your situation and know to send any leads your direction.
Start hustling: Make plans for lunch, coffee, drinks. Hit media parties and events. Be sure to give off good energy — you’re not wallowing, you’re not in hiding, you are eager to explore exciting new opportunites.
This might seem cringe-inducing, but it’s helpful to broadcast that you’re back on the market — and looking forward to the next step. And that involves lots of networking, which is the best way to find new gigs because, like they say, ‘It’s all about who you know.'”
title=”Take your severance and go somewhere awesome”
content=”But don’t spend it all in one place. Consider this: When was the last time you enjoyed your freedom? Took vacation somewhere other than 5 days in your native hometown for the holidays?
Unemployment offers a tremendous opportunity for travel, if you have the means, and you don’t have to clear it with your boss. Try nursing yourself back to emotional health in Spain, Thailand or Brazil. Or right here in the U.S. of A., road tripping down the Pacific Coast Highway.
Do it now, before you land a new gig!”
title=”Embrace the Internet: If you love to write, and you’re not getting paid for it, start a blog!”
content=”Blogging every day keeps your writing sharp and allows you to be your own boss, so to speak. Write whatever the hell you want! Set your own deadlines! Answer to no one but your readers!
Narrow your focus and create a niche. Did you cover the business of fashion? Take everything you learned from that beat, milk your contacts and start posting news and analysis, anything you feel, and embrace the liberation of doing your own thing — in your own voice.
If you develop a following — in other words, you’ve built an audience and thus influence — then your market value increases. Which means your site — your personal brand — could lead to bigger and better things: A virtual business; a book deal; your dream media job. After a friend got laid off years ago, he started tinkering with a blog — creating mock magazine covers as a gimmick — and caught the eye of Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who made him editor of VF.com.
Journalists are trained to be neutral, so things like marketing and personal branding might initially seem counterintuitive. However, as citizen reporters are breaking and making news on their blogs and social networking sites like Twitter, self-promotion is vital to survival in new media.”
title=”Social media is a platform to raise your profile and thus your marketability — so get on Twitter!”
content=”Even if that means live-tweeting Kanye West’s latest meltdown at the MTV Video Music Awards (what, you weren’t watching?!). Think of Twitter as social-media karma: Follow friends and influencers in your field and on your beat, crank out interesting tweets and gain more followers/grow your audience.
Many journalists have adopted Twitter in full force to break news of their own, track news breaks and compete with citizen reporters.
If you’re a veteran journo accustomed to hiding behind your stories, that won’t work anymore: You need to put your name out there and brand your content, thereby raising its value.
Looking to freelance for a digital media outlet? More doors will open if you can drive traffic to your stories by leveraging tools like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.”
title=”With the news business rapidly evolving from mass to niche, there’s nowhere to go but forward — and that’s online.”
content=”With the news business rapidly evolving from mass to niche, there’s nowhere to go but forward — and that’s online.
The death of print means digital media is king, and if you’re a text-only journalist, you should seriously consider updating your skill set.
Wanna produce Web video content?
Learn how to use Final Cut Pro, Apple’s video-editing program. (Or at least iMovie.) Take a class in digital media to get a leg up on the competition. Learn how to crop photos or set up WordPress. Study former journalists-turned-entrepreneurs who cornered specific niches to great success, such as paidContent’s Rafat Ali and Gawker’s Nick Denton.
Put your existing skills to good use: As a trained journalist, you learn fast, you can adapt to new situations with a level head, you have natural curiosity, you want to make a difference — and that’s the key to progress.”
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