“Do you miss journalism?” That's the question that clients often ask since I joined Weber Shandwick two and a half years ago from the Washington Post. Even a few Weber colleagues have questioned my transition from nationally syndicated columnist to agency life. “Look,” one said, “you had my dream job at the Post.”
All seem surprised when I tell them that I don't miss journalism because I had a great run--24 years--and it was the right time to do something new.
Most of my colleagues who have left journalism seem to feel the same way. They have gone on to varied new careers from the non-traditional (garden design and personal coaching) to communications jobs at corporations, trade associations, and even the White House. The trend towards leaving the newsroom is so strong that one former colleague spoke earlier this month about life beyond journalism at our alma mater, Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Of course, agency life is not a good fit for all “recovering” journalists. What helped ease my transition was creating a syndicated column and social network—the Lean Plate Club—at the Post. It exposed me to marketing and promotion. It showed me how to leverage the emerging digital world. As a syndicated columnist I had clients--newspaper editors throughout the country--who often asked for counsel about how to play a particular issue—not unlike what my clients need today. I also had to integrate teams of people throughout the paper and stay on top of a myriad of details, similar to leading an account.
What I like about my new career is that it allows me to use all these skills, and more, to help shape events rather than just report on them. Now, if you asked 'do I miss writing,' that's another story. And that's why there are blogs . . . and maybe even novels . . . still to be written.
Sally Squires is SVP and director of health and wellness communications at Powell Tate.