Publicist Offers Quick Tips to Job-Seeking Journalists Caught in Lay-Off Frenzy

By Scott Lorenz
President
Westwind Communications

The employment outlook for the nation’s newspapers is becoming bleaker every day. The Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times owner has filed for bankruptcy, Gannett has undergone massive layoffs, and newspapers continue to lose ground in competing for advertising with television and especially the internet.

In discussions with my many media contacts, I advise them to be prepared for the worst and to be proactive while still working. If a reporter, writer or editor does end up getting laid off one of the most important assets they will want to use in finding a new job is their PR contacts. Yes, that’s right; the same people who send you press releases may be able to assist you in finding new work or a freelance gig.

The publicists you deal with on a regular basis may be in the best position to help you, and will want to help you. As for new jobs, I don’t have to tell you journalism jobs are scarce so don’t rule out coming over to the  dark side  by becoming a publicist either  it’s not all that bad! Keep an open mind for some free lance work, or even a career change to marketing, corporate communications or web content. In any job search, networking is probably the most important activity you can do.

Since the corporate office won’t always telegraph pending layoff plans, one of the first things I would do is to be prepared for that possibility by gathering all my contact phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses and save them to a disc or memory stick and take it home. If that’s not possible send them out in an email to yourself at another address. Why be so paranoid? I’ve heard of cases where the boss announces the layoff, reporters are told to hand over their blackberries and cell phones on the spot and then they’re locked out of the computer system with no time to get that info.

Then if that pink slip comes, you’ll have the info and you’ll be able to reach each and every contact. Let them know you are searching for a new job and share information about the job you are seeking. If you are emailing them send an updated resume. Don’t be bashful to ask for help and to tell them you’ve been fired, laid off or whatever. Don’t keep it a secret. There’s no shame in losing a job these days especially under the crazy economic situation we’re in now.

After the bad news is announced make sure you or your former boss puts an auto responder on your email so if and when people email you there’s an automatic reply stating you’re not there and so and so is replacing you or whatever and that you can be reached for personal matters at this number or email address.

Because I deal with media persons all the time, I often deal with reporters, editors, writers and photographers who lose their jobs. Often the media outlet keeps the email address alive for months and someone else answers the email. Some media outlets even keep the reporter’s phone mail going and someone else checks it periodically. Not all layoffs are done in the bright light of the day and as a result we publicists don’t always hear about it right away.

Over the years I’ve compiled some resources to assist those in our business that I am happy to provide to you now. It’s the least I can do:

PR Newswire
It’s a great resource and the local office may know of a local company or PR firm looking for employees. The number is: 800- 697-9712 www.prnewswire.com

PRSA – Public Relations Society of America www.prsa.org
They have a “Job Center” section that allows you to post your resume.

www.journalismjobs.com
The Journalism Jobs web site allows you to search for journalism and public relations jobs across the U.S.

workinpr.com
workinpr.com is dedicated to providing global PR professionals with strategic career resources and industry information.

Elance.com
A web site devoted to freelance designers, illustrators, writers, editors, and photographers. A great way to pick up freelance writing jobs.

Editor & Publisher
The latest job listings from Editor & Publisher magazine.

Newslink.org
This site features a searchable list of all media outlets from newspapers and magazines to radio and TV all on a city by city or news affiliation basis.

Mediabistro
This is one of my favorite sites. It keeps tabs on everything going on in the media world. It has job opportunities in magazines, television, radio, newspapers, book publishing, online media, advertising, PR, and graphic design. I read it every day.

HARO www.helpareporter.com
A free service for journalists looking for experts. Similar to ProfNet. I suggest you monitor the 3+ time a day feeds to see what is going on in the world and you may spot an opportunity. I devour each of those emails myself.

In today’s job market it’s critical for job seekers to use the internet as part of their overall strategy. Make a list of career boards and visit them daily to do job searches. Better yet, sign up for daily email alerts. Go to the websites of the companies you want to work for and find their job postings page. You can also track the companies you want to pursue by signing up for Google Alerts on certain topics you want to follow or for the names of companies you’d like to keep tabs on as well.

There are also several general job banks that you can use to find public relations positions when conducting electronic searches. You may be aware of many of them but some of the best are www.monster.comwww.flipdog.com,www.hotjobs.yahoo.com America’s Job Bank at www.ajb.org and you can find salary and job demand information for public relations and other fields by using the Michigan Occupational Info System (MOIS) at www.mois.org. A great resource for pursuing internships and jobs in Journalism. www.freep.com. Two additional sites directed to communications related jobs are www.talentzoo.com and www.PRCrossing.com

Although the internet will be critical to your job search, don’t fall into the trap of staying home and expecting the job to come to you by email. You still have to hit the streets and meet with people you know, and people who know people who know people who are hiring. In the end, it is networking and personal contacts that will land you a job.

A media person’s job search is, in reality, a public relations and marketing campaign. Use all the writing and creative skills you have to write a pitch and job marketing letter. You have written many articles to convince readers to share your opinion or to take action. Use those same skills to convince someone to hire you. Just consider it the biggest pitch letter you’ll ever write.

I understand that it is very tough for professionals in the media to keep their jobs and to find new jobs when necessary. But there is hope, especially when you use the skills you have to get what you need the most   that next job! And when you get that new job, drop me a line.

One more thing. Not to be a smart aleck but the newspaper business is thriving in one part of the world and some Americans are getting hired. Where? India. Go figure.

About Scott Lorenz
Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm. Lorenz works with doctors, lawyers, inventors, authors, start-ups and entrepreneurs. As a seasoned publicist he is often called upon in the early stages of a company’s existence to get them  on the radar.  As a book marketing expert Lorenz is consulted by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC Nightly News, ESPN, The New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, NPR, USA Today, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few. To discuss how Westwind Communications helps its clients get all the publicity they deserve and more visit: www.westwindcos.com, call 734-667-2090 or email scottlorenz@westwindcos.com.

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