- Mandon Lee, Content Strategist at TheSmartLocal (TSL): Mandon graduated from Murdoch University in 2018 with a BA (Double Major) in Communications and Media Studies & Public Relations. He also holds a Diploma from Temasek Polytechnic in Law and Management. Currently, Mandon is a content strategist at TheSmartLocal.com (TSL). With a focus on “hyper-local” lifestyle, food and news, TSL is Singapore’s leading independent media publisher with a platform that reaches over 3 million Singaporeans monthly. As a content strategist, he ideates marketing content for TSL’s commercial clients as well as content for TSL’s own publishing arm. This includes video and article ideas, amongst others. Additionally, Mandon is a frequent host and producer on TSL’s YouTube channels, often featuring on their sister publications such as Eatbook and Zula. Previously, Mandon was also part of TSL’s editorial team.
- Janine Marie Tan, Intern at Our Grandfather Story (OGS): Janine Marie Tan is a penultimate year student at the National University of Singapore, majoring in Communications and New Media. She is a passionate creative who loves to hear stories from individuals who have the heart to share, no matter how big or small, which motivated her to take up an internship with Our Grandfather Story, where she played an integral role in the production of Something Private podcasts. She also interned at The Kint Story and helped out with social media content creation. Apart from these, she also co-founded the Tembusu Thrift Shop, a green initiative which helped to make secondhand fashion and conscious consumerism more accessible to the average joe.
- Chong Rei, Content Creator at Mothership: Chong Rei graduated from Singapore University of Social Sciences, majoring in Human Resource Management with a Minor in Psychology. She currently works at Mothership as a Content Creator (Memes and Infographics). She wears many hats and her job scope ranges from creating memes and infographics based on trending news and topics, content creation to increase engagement and even making TikTok videos. The topics she explores in her content creation include almost anything under the sun, from international politics to local lifestyle. Prior to joining Mothership, she worked in human resources departments in other organisations.
Questions asked and answered
How important is it to have the relevant paper qualifications to join the media industry eg. Degree in Mass Comms/Journalism? Are there some softwares/soft skills we can pick up that will be helpful to a career in media?
It would be good to have a portfolio relevant to the work you are looking to do, eg. for editorial, that would mean written work on Medium/ a blog that others can access and leave feedback; for photography or video production, this could mean photos or videos on Instagram (even if they are shot only on a mobile phone!). Hard skills such as knowledge of how to operate Adobe suite are important, but can easily be picked up later on. Some important soft skills include being adaptable to changes and being aware of the latest social media trends. Last but not least, It is also important that you identify with the culture of the specific media company.
What is the difference between working in smaller, independent media companies eg. TSL, OGS and larger media corporations eg. Mediacorp?
Larger companies tend to have a clearer hierarchy as compared to the flatter "start-up" organization of smaller publishers. This could make a difference in the rounds of approval your work requires before it reaches publication. At smaller companies, there is more freedom to explore what you want to do with less restraint, and you may thus have more autonomy over your work. However, the trade-off would be the potentially better benefits a larger company could provide, such as a higher pay and more promotions.
How can a shy person gain confidence to take on a job in the media industry, especially for front facing roles eg. speaking to a camera?
Take the time to continually practice eg. speaking in front of your friends or speak to your phone and upload Instagram stories. Do learn to be comfortable with taking the risk of putting yourself out there and not having everyone like your work. Be authentic so that your audience can feel your energy and then feel a connection with you; it is not worth it to put on a facade for someone to like you for what you are not. Finally, slow down when speaking! It will make a big difference. Most times your mind cannot catch up with your tongue, causing you to be tongue-tied. Conversely, slowing down and having pauses in your speech is also beneficial to creating tension and intrigue.
How is the work-life balance and career progression like in the media industry?
Career progression is closely tied to the size of the company, as well as the future plans for the company's growth. Turnover in the media industry is short, around 2.5-3 years and many switch jobs often. There is always space to try out new things, especially in a smaller company; this could mean taking on additional roles in different departments. Work-life balance is tough, and long hours is to be expected, especially when there is coverage of embargoed information such as General Elections, or sponsored content that follows a schedule. However, when you feel that you are creating meaningful content that you are satisfied with and proud of, it becomes its own reward.
What are some challenges you have faced working in the media industry?
(In the context of OGS' Something Private podcast series) Starting out with the new medium of podcasting at a time when it was not as relevant as it is now was difficult as it was hard to break into the market, and the audience was not growing. While there might be the occasional breakthrough, what is important is to consistently ideate and adapt to the audience's reception. Additionally, make sure not to take things too personally, though as a creator it will be difficult to overcome the emotional attachment you have to your work. Understand that trolls are targeting the content rather than targeting you as a person. Also, keep track of what other brands are doing to continually learn and grow.