Women in Business and Financial Journalism Seminar

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By Georgia Bea Edkins

WIJ’s Women in Financial and Business journalism seminar hosted by The Financial Times and kindly sponsored by Lansons Latest PR was a motivational evening, offering sage advice to both those just starting out in the industry and more seasoned journalists.

From Left to Right: Becky Barrow, Claer Barrett, Merryn Somerset Webb, Natalie Holt, Clare Parsons, Hilary Osborne and Donna Ferguson

From Left to Right: Becky Barrow, Claer Barrett, Merryn Somerset Webb, Natalie Holt, Clare Parsons, Hilary Osborne and Donna Ferguson

The star panel, chaired by Editor of The Sunday Times Money section – Becky Barrow, consisted of Financial Times Personal Finance Editor – Claer Barrett, Editor-in-Chief of Moneyweek – Merryn Somerset Webb, co-founder of Lansons PR – Clare Parsons, Editor of Money Marketing – Natalie Holt, Editor of The Guardian Money website – Hilary Osborne and award-winning freelance financial journalist – Donna Ferguson.

The panel shared their success stories and their career difficulties, offering their valuable wisdom along the way. Some of the advice they offered included:

–       “News is the route to fame and stardom.”

–       Tailor your CV when applying for a particular job. Studies show women are only likely to apply for a role if they have over 90% of the attributes required, but men seem more confident in applications. Find relevant things you can add to your CV – but never lie!

–       In order to get to the front page – find some “thematic resonance” but also find an original angle.

–       To get past the “gender trap,” push the boundaries you are meant to be staying within.

–       Don’t be afraid to sell yourself – you are your best PR

–       Nobody really knows about money. Don’t opine, tell your audience the facts.

–       Read two newspapers every single day from beginning to end. Often the stories you think may not interest you will provide you with inspiration.

–       Challenge yourself, but always surround yourself with people you respect and admire.

–       By all means, follow your heart and your passion, but make sure you’re good at what you do.

–       Don’t be afraid to be aggressive on pay

–       “Persist, persist, persist”

–       Invest time in data journalism to find the best stories

–       Find a niche. Many women go in to personal finance journalism, whilst macroeconomics tends to remain a male-dominated sphere – push your way in to it and make an impression.

The women also offered some useful advice for pitching financial and business stories. Although some of the suggestions seem obvious, many people tend to forget them:

–       Read the section you are pitching to

–       Make sure you are addressing the right person and refer to them by the correct gender (they may be financial journalists, but they are also women).

–       Research your pitch, line up interviews prior, so the story can be printed quickly if needs be.

–       Even if a company says they don’t take freelancers – they will if you pitch a really original and interesting story. Again, persistence is key.

The venue was packed, with over 150 in attendance and the feedback was fantastic.

Women in Journalism’s next event, “What is the future of magazines – digital print or both?” will be on 23rd February 2016.

Don’t forget to apply for the inaugural Georgina Henry Award for Innovation in journalism by 1st February 2016 in order to win £4000 to spend on a project of your choice.