By Chandra Turner
Our health editor peers have been faced with the biggest challenge of their careers the last few weeks. Driven by their readers’ insatiable need for content surrounding Covid-19 (and I would argue, their own sense of journalist duty), they have been working around the clock. Creating accurate, timely, and relatable content at a time where conflicting, constantly changing, and down-right fake news is no joke. While other news continues to be pumped out into the world while we are sheltering in place, health media companies lead the pack. We can’t get enough and they can’t deliver fast enough.
Before we were in the middle of this crisis, I had the great fortune of heading up the search and hire of three key roles at one such company, Remedy Health Media. They each come from different stages in their careers — Lauren Paige Kennedy, the new Senior Editor at Health Central has 20+ years as a writer and editor, including as a founding editor of WebMD Magazine. Carrie Kreiswirth, the new Director of Communications and Public Relations, has 16 years as a publicist working for brands like ESPN. And Sarah Ellis just started as a Staff Writer at Health Central, after two years as a freelance writer for Greatist, Livestrong, and Elite Daily.
“We are in the midst of transforming our brands, and I’m psyched to have so much talent at Remedy to further distinguish how we provide health information from our competitors. Get ready for some exciting stuff later this year!” says Amy Keller Laird, Executive Vice President, Brand and Audience Development at Remedy Health Media. “Right now, I’m thankful for my editors working diligently from home to push out legitimate, trustworthy, and chronic-condition-specific stories about the coronavirus during this unprecedented time.”
Between posts and press releases, Sarah, Lauren, and Carrie took the time to talk to me about what it’s like to cover health during a global pandemic, why it’s a wild time to start a new role, and some advice for others who are on the hunt for their dream gig.
Talent Fairy: What’s it like to start a new job in the middle of a global pandemic?
Sarah Ellis: Talk about hitting the ground running! I feel so lucky to have this opportunity in the midst of all the chaos in the world right now. It feels like a more important time than ever to be joining a team so focused on helping people stay informed about their health.
Talent Fairy: What are you working on right now that you are loving?
Lauren Paige Kennedy: It’s hard to “love” working on coronavirus stories, but it’s incredibly compelling. This pandemic is historic, it’s changing the way we all work and live. Yet, there is so much misleading or downright incorrect information floating around on social media. To be able to post reliably sourced corrections to viral myths, to consult with leading infectious disease doctors at this turbulent time, and to interview a woman who recovered from COVID-19 (and then share her story with so many people fighting feelings of panic, knowing how it will calm them)—I just can’t imagine doing more fulfilling work right now. It’s public service journalism.
Talent Fairy: You all started in your roles right before or as this crisis was unfolding. What was it about Remedy Health Media that was so appealing to you?
Lauren: I’ve been writing and/or editing health content since 2005—and freelancing as a regular contributor for more than a decade. It was the right time for me to return to the office full-time, but I only wanted to do it for the right gig. When I met Elizabeth [Shaw, the site’s Executive Editor] I knew right away she’d be amazing to work with—she is—plus I was drawn to the range of health content HealthCentral tackles.
I’ve been so impressed with the level of talent and dedication—and total lack of office drama—among the staff at Remedy Health [parent company to HC]. I go to work and there’s always a mountain of content to move through (a very good thing!), yet the environment is downright Zen. We all hunker down and deliver, keeping stress to a minimum. Also, working from home is part of the culture at Remedy. Everyone does so at least once each week, even prior to the pandemic, so the transition was pretty seamless. I feel lucky to be here.
Carrie Kreiswirth: In a way, it felt like kismet. [At Remedy] there was an overall sense of intention to create a better connection to community — be it with consumers or healthcare professionals — that will ultimately, help improve the lives of others. That, along with a leadership that encourages both compassion and transparency, made the job quite appealing.
While we are clearly in a challenging time amidst the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, having the opportunity to bring valuable information and resources to those in need is truly rewarding. The ability to take the content our editors and writers develop daily to consumers and media allows me to contribute something positive in a time of uncertainty.
Talent Fairy: What advice would you give others who want to move from freelance to full-time?
Sarah: Pitch, pitch, pitch! Put yourself out there as much as possible. Email editors you’d like to write for so you can start freelancing and building your portfolio. Even if you can’t find a full-time role right away, you can report and publish meaningful work in the meantime. Freelancing is how I got to where I am, and as challenging as it is, I am so grateful to have begun my career that way.
Lauren: Connect with Chandra Turner. Full stop.
Talent Fairy: Aw. That’s sweet! Any advice for others who are looking for a move to a purpose-driven company?
Carrie: After being diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 7 years ago, I knew in my bones that I wanted to make a more significant impact and play more of an integral role in helping those affected by health-related issues.
I would suggest knowing your WHY before pursuing any position related to a purpose-driven company. Being driven by passion and purpose is one thing but knowing what you are looking to contribute and how you can grow and develop – both as a professional and as a person – is key. I would also say have patience – mostly with yourself. You may find the need to hit the ground running although it’s important to absorb all that you can, educate yourself, listen, learn, ask questions and ultimately identify ways you can truly bring added value to the company.
Chandra Turner is founder and CEO of Ed2010 and Talent Fairy. She is a talent recruiter specializing in the content and media space. She also offers personalized career coaching for media professionals at all stages of their career.
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