Thursday, January 25, 2007

Juggling Corporate and Editorial Work

I am also trying to divide my time between getting corporate clients (I have a background in marketing writing) and pitching to consumer magazines(no clips yet). I was wondering if you ever had editors question you about conflicts of interest because you were pitching stories and representing PR clients. I would never mix the two, but i don't want any perceived conflicts either. This is most relevant in terms of how I should set up my website. Should I have 2 separate sites for corporate writing services and freelancing? Should I link between the two? How do you toe the line, so to speak?

I've never had editors question my conflicts of interest, but then again, I've never had editors question anything other than something related to the article at hand really. (Other than, say, shooting the shit and just gabbing when we're on the phone.) Honestly, I don't think that editors have the time to worry about this sort of thing. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't give it a thought, because, in fact, these conflicts can definitely arise...there was a very recent example of a writer for the NY Times, I believe, who was publicly reprimanded for writing a story on a company for which she'd done PR. (I might be screwing up some of these details - this is from memory - and I do remember that it wasn't as clear-cut as what I'm laying out here, and the writer might have not done any of this intentionally, but you get my point.)

I'm really not an ethics expert or the ethics police, but really, I do think you have to exercise some common sense here. As you know, you simply can't write a story on a client who is paying you. That's not objective journalism, and yeah, then editors would give you the justifiable stink eye. But as long as you're able to compartmentalize your various jobs, it shouldn't be a problem.

As far as the website, most writers I know have both their editorial and their corporate clips on one. Because, as I noted above, I don't think editors care, and really, just because you're a magazine writer doesn't mean that you're not any other type of writer. I no longer do PR writing, but when I did, I certainly had it up on my site and never ran into any trouble.

So...what am I saying here? Don't sweat it! :) Just write as much as you can for whomever you can, and police yourself as you go.

How do folks out there sell themselves as both journalists and corporate writers?

1 comment:

Julie said...

Hi Allison,

Great reality check...your advice makes a lot of sense. It seems like most of the things I worry about as a beginner are not that big a deal.