It was scary. The thought of leaving a career and industry I’d worked hard to establish myself in wasn’t a light decision and was rife with unknowns.

In fact, I wasn’t even fully committed to the idea of a change. I had been looking at the job market sparingly to see what I felt I could do outside of what had become my norm. I had spent over half a decade and countless hours working as a journalist, breaking stories and helping to demystify an emerging industry receiving billions of dollars of investment from venture capitalists.

Through LinkedIn’s surprisingly useful job-searching section, I looked for open positions that drew upon my professional experience of creating content of all kinds — though I didn’t know how best I could utilise this skill set in the future. I was particularly picky in what I applied for, considering I hadn’t decided on what I wanted to do one way or the other. I ended up landing an interview with a small but mighty tech agency named Bamboo PR.

Fast-forward to today. I’ve been with Bamboo for over a year and genuinely love working with the team and our clients. This also means that I moved on from journalism, a profession which effectively became my identity. Reflecting on this experience, I realised some insights that may benefit (or at least interest) others.

No more chatting. Let’s get into my realisations!

Journalistic scrutiny and curiosity remains

A major element of being a journalist is scrutinising what you see and hear. It’s not enough to plainly trust people, companies and information. Curiosity works into this too; wondering what the reality of a situation or a decision is. You become curious about something and then scrutinise the subject as best you can until you are certain of your findings.

While the context has changed, the practice is the same. Wanting to understand a subject or a task to its core and scrutinising it along the way to aid that understanding.

A particularly arduous task can be streamlined with some probing and questioning.

A key message for a client can be approached better to suit the needs of their prospective customers through the interrogation and analysis of pain points, industry norms expectations, customer desires, competitor offerings, etc.

Scrutinising a subject allows you to cut through the noise and understand its essence. I believe this is vital when trying to get a message across or promote a product or service.

However, it’s important to remember the human element when scrutinising why something is the way it is. The truth is the North Star for journalists and that can blind them, but that needn’t be the case. Be inquisitive and curious, but always be respectful.

The inverted pyramid reigns supreme

Using the inverted pyramid structure is Effective News Writing 101 in journalism.

Put simply, it’s a structure that dictates how best to format content. It goes something like this:

  • Top of pyramid: Lead with the most important information. You want to ensure the crux of your message is consumed, so use a strong lead that contains the vital part of your story.
  • Middle of pyramid: This is the place for supporting information and context. Once you’ve hooked the reader in, let them know more about the story you’re telling.
  • Bottom of pyramid: This is where the least important information lives in news-writing. You should include an appropriate call-to-action (CTA) here as part of your marketing best practice.

While I believe it’s important to see beyond existing, rigid structures (see my first lesson!), I still find the inverted pyramid invaluable on a day-to-day basis. It’s built into me to make sure I start a content piece with a hook and something of value, and from there we can flesh out the story. This works for a video, a social media post, a blog – almost anything.

This works with internal communication too. Bamboo is a remote company and with that comes an influx of emails and messages. Make sure the most important information is accessible by starting with it. Your colleagues and clients will thank you (perhaps only in their mind, and subconsciously) for not sending a behemoth of an email where they have to work their way through understanding the objective.

This may be a very basic lesson for many reading this, but it serves as a good reminder to lead strong with content nonetheless.

Adjusting to an agency is a process

Journalism serves the public by delivering truth, whereas marketing is advertising the solution to a problem. This requires a change of framing in everything you do.

Working at an agency is a stark difference from working in-house, too. This adds another layer of necessary adaptation. Transitioning from working for one company to an agency with a roster of clients presents plenty of opportunities for growth.

Context switching is real. It wasn’t rare for me to work on a single story for weeks at a time as a journalist, whereas I’m moving at least a dozen tasks forward each day now that I work at a marketing agency.

Being able to effectively jump between jobs (which can mean switching between clients and even industries) is learned over time and requires sharp organisational and communication skills. It’s easy to get lost in what you’re doing when this dynamic changes so drastically so having a system for your responsibilities is a necessity, as is communicating with your colleagues so no threads are crossed.

I used to work alone, only coming out of my cave to submit a story to my editor once I (often incorrectly) thought I was done with a story.

I’m now part of a team.

This is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also part of the adjustment process. It requires a lot of communication, especially in a remote company, and that can be a struggle when you’re used to being a team of one. This is another learned skill, which also ties in with being empathetic and ensuring team-wide organisation is on point. These aren’t trivial tasks by any stretch of the imagination.

While what I’ve described is tough, the point of this lesson is that you can achieve a lot, even when you are in an entirely new environment.

A career change requires a lot more work than you’d expect, as there are a lot of soft skills under the surface that you may need to develop over time. Switching from journalism to marketing has bolstered my confidence more than you can believe, as I’ve proven my self-doubt wrong, time after time.

There has been lots to learn, but I’ve also had a lot of knowledge and experience that has transitioned in ways I couldn’t have predicted before making the switch. If you’re awarded patience and support from your team, and you work hard to identify and execute upon the areas that you may require some work in, you will surprise yourself. That’s what I’ve learned a year on.

Bamboo’s MD Marco Fiori also wrote about adapting to change and working in tech. If you enjoyed reading this blog, I’m certain you’ll find value in his writing too!