Callie Schweitzer, director of Marketing and Communications for Vox Media (which publishes the Verge, SB Nation, and Polygon), can often be found curating the news from other sources on her popular Twitter account. To some people, Schweitzer may seem to be the epitome of a modern digital journalist. For others, she is perhaps nothing like a true journalist.
She prefers to call herself a hybrid between a journalist, a brand strategist, and an audience hacker. “I really see myself as a journalist in curating, packaging, and sharing news. For me that’s the most exciting thing right now,” Schweitzer says.
“Part of being a journalist is pointing people to good, reliable, valuable content...and I think I do all of these things on my Facebook and Twitter feeds,” she explains.
Nine months ago, at the age of 24, Schweitzer started her job for Vox in a position which had been especially created with her interests and skills in mind. Recently, Time magazine named her Twitter feed as one of the best this year. In 2012, Forbes listed her as one of the 30 people under 30 to watch in media.
One secret to Schweitzer's success as an emerging networking guru: Be genuine. "The best way to form long-lasting relationships in business is the same as in your personal life: be yourself," Schweitzer says.
Another secret? Be well-read. Schweitzer spends a lot of time reading, so she can be up to date with everything that is happening in the industry.
Yet another: follow-up. She argues that people shouldn't underestimate the "power of a follow-up e-mail."
Here are Schweitzer's tips on how to use new media to grow your career:
Use the Never-Ending Feedback Loop To Constantly Learn
Schweitzer sees the connectivity that Internet and mobile technology provide as a “university-like” opportunity. “I love it that with all the access to things at our fingertips, we can also always be learning,” she says, noting that the opportunity to reach out to the public anytime she wants is invaluable.
Schweitzer suggests trying out a new media platform and taking advantage of the never-ending feedback loop as a way of advancing your career.
“Post on Medium and say: 'Does anybody think those are good ideas?' You can become so much better with what you do by just reading and interacting with people," she says. "I consider nights when I go home and do my newsletter reading my education. I’m still a student.”
Her recent Medium post is a good example. She discusses how people get their news and asks the readers to respond by telling her about their news habits.
She got plenty of responses.
Take Control Of Your Own Distribution
Schweitzer is well aware that publication is not the last step of the reporting cycle. In an era of mobile devices and social media, media success is all about sharing, messaging, and packaging. Writers and publishers have to develop strategies to distribute their work, to promote it, and to reach the widest readership possible. “Now you’re responsible for getting your stuff out on social media, send it to friends, as the lifespan of a story can be much longer because everything is updated,” she notes.
Schweitzer says that thinking about the different communities and the people who would be impacted by a story helps a lot when promoting a piece.
Look For the Gems
While Schweitzer worked as editor-in-chief of Neon Tommy, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism's news site, she realized that she loved the strategy side of news and finding ways to make people read news that they didn’t know they needed. Since then “news that you don’t know you need” has become a guiding principle that drives her approach to news curation. It is one of the key tools she uses to hack audiences.
For example, one of her obsessions is finding the best quote or catchphrase that will make people click on a story that otherwise they wouldn’t bother to read. “I read every story looking for the nugget, the gem that will make most people interested in the piece. It’s the best quote or the best turn of phrase that will draw people in,” she says. “And I’ve seen great responses like: 'Wow, I’d never read this but that really brought me in.'”
She gives an example with a profile on Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase's CEO, published in New York Magazine last year. She tweeted a link to the article with the last quote of the piece: "Guess what,” he says, almost shouting now. 'It’s a free. Fucking. Country.'" As a result, she got flooded with retweets and likes.
Be Your Twitter Feed
Schweitzer admits that she can live without Google--but she can't live without Twitter. She thinks public consumption of social media has changed the way people present themselves online.
“When I was younger I would go to a sleepover and if you would share something--it was like I’d tell you my secret, you’d tell me your secret, and this is between us," Schweitzer says. “Now we have all these platforms where we can just declare things. It’s really a different form of sharing because you’re aware that everything is for public consumption, you can tinker with how you’re being presented.”
That said, Schweitzer, who has a knack for transforming online connections into offline relationships, urges people to be genuine on the Internet and tries to be genuine herself.
Maybe she is onto something. After all, almost her entire social circle of friends in New York consists of people she met on Twitter. “The only way you can take all these online experiences offline is being yourself,” she says, adding that she is not surprised to hear “You’re exactly like your Twitter feed" when people meet her in real life.
As a part of the Mobilizing series, we will be hosting Twitter chats (next one to be held next Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. EST), networking in our Facebook group, and continuing the conversation at live salon events in New York City. Join in the conversation! And, if you know a woman who is mobilizing we would like to hear from you. Tell us about her here.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Schweitzer has been at Vox seven months. She has been at Vox nine months.