Every week here at MediaHQ we chat with a member of the media landscape to get an insight into what’s it’s like to work in the Irish industry. We also get the best pitching tips and tricks for PR Pros.
This week we’re chatting to Erin Lindsay, Digital Content Creator at IMAGE.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
My current role is as a Digital Content Creator at IMAGE Publications. I work on the Digital team with a bunch of other very talented gals to create everything that you see on IMAGE’s website and social media platforms. My day-to-day jobs include a lot of writing (being on the digital side of things means quick turnaround), researching and sourcing stories and interviews for the website, editing and overseeing my colleague’s pieces (as they do mine), writing and scheduling social media posts across multiple platforms, and working on sponsored content for the site as well. The Digital team liaises a lot with the Editorial, Events and Branded Content teams at IMAGE, so we’re always in and out of meetings and collaborating on projects and events.
I’m also the producer of Smart Casual, which is IMAGE’s fashion podcast on personal style, and that involves sitting down and hashing out ideas with the podcast’s hosts, writing scripts, sourcing and liaising with interviewees, overseeing recording sessions and looking after the technical side of getting the episode out to the audience. That’s the day-to-day stuff which all takes place in IMAGE HQ in Dun Laoghaire, but on other days, I might be heading to an event to represent IMAGE, helping out behind the scenes at one of our own events (we actually just had our annual Businesswoman of the Year awards, which required all hands on deck!), heading out to interview someone, or sometimes working remotely. There’s always a lot going on but it’s a lot of fun!
Did you always want to be a journalist? What persuaded you to become one?
I actually always wanted to work at a women’s magazine, so it’s gas that I ended up at IMAGE so early on in my career! I definitely didn’t expect to be working somewhere like this until much later. I used to absolutely pore over glossy magazines when I was a kid, and I was really drawn to the images and the design before I got a bit older and learned to appreciate the quality of the writing too. I didn’t necessarily know that I wanted to be a journalist, but I knew I wanted to work somewhere that made those magazines. It was lucky that I was always very into English as well, and was constantly reading and writing growing up. When I got to sixth year in school, I was looking for a course where I could use that in a practical way, so I applied for lots of media courses and put Journalism with Gaeilge at DIT at the top of the CAO, which I went and did for the next four years.
I always say that I was really lucky to love my college course because most people try out lots of courses and jobs before they find something that suits them. From the first day at DIT, I knew it was a good fit for me, and I always really enjoyed it. It gave me the skills and tools to research, interview, write and edit well and was great at setting me up for a real-world career because it was such a practical-based course – it wasn’t just writing, I also got really into radio and podcast producing when I was there too. It also gave me a massive respect for journalism, and made me realise its importance – the four years I was in college were pretty turbulent in the world and saw major events like Trump getting elected and marriage equality in Ireland, so there was a lot to talk about when we were in class! When I graduated, I knew that I wanted to move more into lifestyle and women’s interest rather than hard news, so I went off to try and do that.
How long have you been working in the media? Is it what you expected it to be like?
I’ve been working in the media since my last year of college – in my final year, I was the editor of Campus.ie, which is an online publication for third level students. When I finished college in 2017, I got a job with a start-up running their social media, which was hard work but I also really loved it because it was like a crash course in everything digital. Then from there, I got my job at IMAGE in February this year.
To be honest, the media world has changed so much in the past ten years, that what I expected it to be like was kind of obsolete by the time I started. Like when I was in school, there was no such thing as a digital journalist, so it wasn’t something that I thought I could do as a job, because I didn’t know it could exist! In future, I think the media world is only going to get more varied and there will be so many new things to learn, which sounds scary but it’s actually exciting. And it’s also kind of comforting – if you don’t know what you want to do now, don’t fret, because the perfect job for you might not even exist yet!
What’s your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part is the feeling you get when you’ve worked really hard on a piece and see people responding well to it. Like I said, being on the Digital team means there are a lot of quick turnaround pieces, so when I get to work on a bigger piece that takes longer to really get right, it’s very satisfying to get it done and see others enjoying it. It’s also great to work in a place like IMAGE that is very female-focused – the events and the content we produce is all focused towards building women up and showcasing what we can do, which is lovely to be a part of.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge facing media in the future?
There are so many things, but first and foremost, I think it has to be fake news, and all that that entails. The internet and the media have largely migrated online now, which is great in a lot of ways, but it also means that people are sourcing their information from places that aren’t reliable, and are arguing that information as fact. It also means that real journalism is losing readers and struggling to remain afloat, which is very worrying. I think people really need to be educated on how to critically navigate the internet and how to discern fake news from reliable facts – ideally, they should start doing this in schools.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
Oh god, this is a really hard question! Since I’ve been at IMAGE, there’s been so many that I’ve been really happy with, but I think my favourite is probably the interview I did with the author Louise O’Neill after her book Almost Love came out this year. I’m a really big fan of hers and I was only working here about a month when they assigned me an interview with her, and I was sh*tting myself going to meet her. But she was so lovely and open and the chat we had made a big impact on me, so I really wanted the article to reflect that. I always look back on that piece proudly, because I worked hard on it, and it reminds me that there’s never a need to be intimidated by someone or not to be confident in yourself (especially when the person is as nice as Louise).
7) What advice would you give to someone pitching a story to image?
Be clear and concise about exactly what you want to write about, and make sure to include all the relevant details like your pay rate, the word count you expect to get out of it when it’ll be ready etc. Be polite and friendly, that goes a long way! Also, don’t be nervous! If you’re a good writer, that will come across and we’ll be able to see that. People are just people, so even though it’s scary to pitch stories, trust yourself and you’ll be grand – the worst that can happen is that we pass on it this time around, but we’ll have you on our radar for next time.
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