The light side of the “dark side”

Office (Space) DarthJournalists who opt to hang up their dictaphones and ring-bound notebooks and move to an agency would do well to prepare themselves for the barrage of “Oh, so you’ve moved to the dark side?” jokes with which their former colleagues and peers will berate them.

A little over a month ago I made precisely that move, leaving my job in technology journalism as the Deputy Editor of TechCentral for a new role as Head of Content at Clockwork Media.

What does that mean in terms of my day-to-day activities? Well, there are fewer sponsored lunches, for a start. There are also fewer unsolicited phone calls and e-mails (pleasingly), but that also means there are (tragically) far fewer mysterious parcels for me at reception each day.

I do a similar amount of running around town to meetings and press briefings, spend almost as much time making phone calls, and as much (if not more) time researching, writing and editing.

I’m less beholden to my inbox and my Twitter feed. That’s not to say either is any quieter, only that I no longer have to watch both with hawk-like fanaticism in case John McAfee makes another bath salts video or an update for a banking app goes live before the bank expects it to.

However, many of the fundamentals of my job remain unchanged. Producing high-quality, engaging content (or making sure those on my team do so) is still my primary activity. Creating, nurturing and developing solid relationships with people and the companies they represent also remains essential to doing my job. And, I still don’t have to wear a tie.

Perhaps the biggest shift has been on the creative front. Clockwork Media is growing like a marshmallow in a microwave, and that means new clients with new demands and expectations, which in turn means having to constantly come up with new and innovative ways to tell their stories. It’s challenging, but it’s great.

As a result, Clockwork Media has also launched a dedicated content-creation arm, Clockwork Creative, a content agency to meet the writing, design, photography, videography, development and production needs of our clients (read more about it, here). I’m really excited about getting involved with all sorts of content, not just the written variety.

Because Clockwork is a small (but rapidly growing) team, and prides itself on attention to detail, it’s crucial that I understand how every aspect of the agency works. After only a month, that’s an ongoing project, but the wider scope I’ve been afforded is one of my favourite things about having made the move from the media to an agency.

Finally, here are a handful of the most useful things I learnt as a journalist and another of the most helpful things I’ve learnt after a month on the “dark side”.

Five things I learnt from journalism:

  • Deadlines don’t hang around waiting for inspiration to strike
  • In your professional life, as in your personal life, relationships are key
  • Integrity and reputation are tough to create but easy to lose
  • No one minds if you make them sound better in print than they did in person, but never meddle with the facts (and double check them)
  • Content is king

Five things I’ve learnt from (a month of) agency life:

  • You work with, more than for, your clients
  • The days of spray-and-pray/broadcast media are numbered — long live tailored content
  • People who work in public relations and social media work far harder (and put up with far more abuse) than most journalists think they do
  • Other people’s coffee mugs are not to be trifled with
  • Content really is king
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