My personal journey toward marketing and how Mark Schaefer’s blog can help all us ex-journalists and communicators figure it out

by Christina Parsons

I was 23 and about to finish my bachelor’s degree in journalism. I was filled with the angst that accompanies this stage in a young person’s journey.

Purpose and passion at work was/is a must for me. It was never all about a salary. I never imagined that one day I would be working in marketing! I equated that profession with selling.

Landing in the right place 
Back to 1998. Three months after graduation, I got a job as news editor at a community newspaper. I turned down a job that came with a brand new car and big pay cheque to accept a job at The Catholic Times newspaper. My boss was the best teacher I ever had and I loved it!

Image from Mark Schaefer’s blog

I was where I was meant to be. Why had I ever worried?

Fast forward through some other experiences and I found myself working in communications. I was using my skills to advance the mission of Health Partners International of Canada, a unique organization dedicated to increasing access to medicine for the most vulnerable people in the world.

Evolving world of communications 
My job has evolved so much since 2004, the year I began at HPIC.

I managed a big project to publish a magazine for our 15th anniversary in 2005 and for our 20th in 2010. The magazine featured profiles of some of our major donors and the impact of their partnership with HPIC. It was successful and raised a lot of money.

In 2016, I need to find new ways to engage our donors, build our community, tell our story and develop our brand- all with very limited resources. I am very motivated to do this and to continue improving because the better I do my job, the more people in need will receive medical treatment.

No one’s got this new world figured out- even marketers!
My job sounds a lot like marketing now, doesn’t it? And I feel quite untrained for this. However, I am in good company according to Mark Schaefer, the blogger I have chosen to follow. He quotes Unilever’s Keith Weed who says marketers in their 30s and 40s are unprepared to lead digital brands.

I feel I must learn more about marketing and how to apply its principles and tactics to my ever-changing job.

For this reason, I have decided to follow Mark, a globally recognized expert in marketing strategy and social media.

Practical and tactical 
Each blog entry has good content that is practical and tactical.

One of the entries that spoke to me:  How do I find time to create content? 25 ideas! I am a team of one with some pro-bono consulting help. Time tips always resonate with me.

Goals and KPIs for social analytics is another one that I will read through carefully since measurement and tracking is somewhat mysterious to me. I would really like to learn how to do this better.

More than anything, I would like to find someone to follow who can keep me up to date on what is happening in marketing and technology and give me practical information that I can put to use immediately. And it seems like Scott has led me to a great resource.

Working on the ‘why’ and following Mark 
I thought I would choose Simon Sinek’s blog before I looked into these four selected bloggers. I was enthusiastic about bringing his why conversation to my team. And I will continue to develop the why of HPIC. However, his blog did not seem as practical for me as Mark’s.

And so I am now developing a side of myself that my 23-year-old self would be perplexed about. In 2016, marketing skills are very much in demand for the charitable sector. Charities that can figure out marketing and cause marketing will thrive. I want to help mine do just that.




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