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Almost a Journalist
Almost a Journalist
How studying journalism got me a job in marketing

As a kid, I always enjoyed writing stories and essays about people and places. Then I saw Almost Famous and that was it—I was going to be a writer and tell the stories of amazing people.

So I studied journalism and creative writing for seven years. Throughout school, I heard innumerous murmurs when I would tell people what I was studying: “Oh, and what are you going to do with that?” “What do your parents think?” “Why?”

Regardless of what the masses may think, that’s the beautiful thing about writing—you can do so many creative and lucrative things with it. Now, I’m a copywriter, and I’m happy I spent so much time studying journalism and writing. Here are a few reasons why.

I grew into a people person
Journalism taught me how to effectively communicate with complete strangers, building a trusting relationship. Asking personal questions, bringing up uncomfortable issues and talking through intricate stories doesn’t work unless you know how to talk with someone and not make them think you’re a huge weirdo—or worse—someone who will sell them out. As a copywriter, knowing how to communicate with clients and build that trust is huge; it’s how you turn ideas into products and brands into household names.

I learned how to build something out of nothing
I once had to write a story about a tiny museum in Northwest Indiana that was basically deserted. I’ve lived in the region (yep, I’m one of those folks) my entire life and had never once heard of it. When I got there, it turned out the old lighthouse was home to a slew of artifacts, some hundreds of years old, and it sat right on the edge of Lake Michigan. That’s a story, and it ended up being an incredibly interesting one. Not everything sparkles right away, and that’s how it is with copywriting.

At first, writing an email for keyboard cleaner seems like an instant sedative, but after some digging, maybe the subject can be turned into a pun, maybe there is a good analogy hidden somewhere. Finding the brilliance and hauling it out is half the battle and most of the fun.

I Leave the lawyers out of it
For me, fact checking is inherent. When a woman whose name was misspelled screamed at me, I never wanted to make that mistake again. As a copywriter, I help create an image for a person or a company, and that image needs to be accurate. Journalism scared me straight away from fabrications, and in copywriting, it’s just as easy to get caught holding a lie. If I wrote an ad for a spa that promised luxury and relaxation, but when customers went, they were met with chipping paint and holes in the walls, my job would most likely cease to exist. Journalism set me up with ethics and forced us to get married, but the relationship has taught me how to know what’s appropriate in copywriting and what’s absolutely not.

I have a mental desk full of dos and don’ts that have given me a proper base for the marketing world. Had I listened to all the disgruntled qualms about choosing this path, I’d probably be going door-to-door selling vacuums. Studying those fields allowed me to choose from a huge variety of careers, ultimately leading to me to one that fit. So, to all those eye rollers and questioners, that is why.