Jaclyn Stewart is a 2010 graduate of the MS in Publishing program. She grew up outside of Atlantic City, NJ. Jaclyn attended Rider University and graduated from The Richard Stockton College of NJ with a degree in Literature and a minor in Writing. She began her career as in Digital Media Sales at Conde Nast, before becoming a Sales Planner at Shazam Entertainment. Jaclyn now resides in Manhattan and works as Director of Client Services at StyleCaster, where she focuses on improving customer service at a high level, as well as producing custom and engaging content for advertising partners, including photo shoots and videos.
Prof. Denning: Hi Jaclyn and thank you for agreeing to do this interview. It has been 3 years since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2010. Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?
Jaclyn: Since graduating, I took a job in digital media sales at Conde Nast. It was a wonderful place to begin a career in digital media and I have learned a lot about the sales and marketing aspects of digital publishing. I then began working at a mobile technology company for a popular iPhone App called Shazam. I was one of the first people to be hired into the US based sales team where I served as an account manager for the East Coast. While I loved the start-up environment, I missed working in the fashion and beauty industry and wanted to pursue a position that leveraged my editorial experience, so I joined the StyleCaster team as Director of Client Services.
Prof. Denning: What does your job as a Director of Client Services at StyleCaster entail? How do you interact with the other members of this style-oriented, digital media company?
Jaclyn: As employees do in many smaller publishing companies, I wear many hats. When I first started, I was one of two people in charge of executing every advertising campaign that we sold to our partners. The responsibilities ranged from producing video content, maintaining relationships with bloggers, photographers and other talent used to produce content for our brand partners, serving as the day to day contact for agencies and clients, providing campaign updates and insights to our partners that they can leverage to further improve their messaging in the future etc. We have since launched a luxury lifestyle site called The Vivant and have acquired a site called DailyMakeover.com that has an amazing proprietary technology that allows women to try on products, hair styles, jewelry and more. I’ve also developed my own department of account managers, an ad operations team, and project managers so I can focus on improving our customer service at a high level, as well as producing custom, organic and engaging content for our advertising partners.
Prof Denning: What are some of your favorite parts of your job?
Jaclyn: I love producing photo shoots and videos for our partners. Producing original, compelling content is always a challenge. Integrating a brand’s message and objective into the content and still speaking to an audience in your site’s editorial tone adds an additional challenge that I welcome on a regular basis.
Prof Denning: Tell us a bit about StyleCaster and some of the initiatives they have taken in response to new technological developments.
Jaclyn: StyleCaster is a collection of fashion and beauty websites that speaks to (mainly) women across about how to look and feel good whether through beauty, lifestyle or, of course, fashion content. The acquisition of DailyMakeover.com was motivated by the changing landscape of digital and it will allow us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors because not only will we be able to produce engaging and relevant content, which we do now. We also will be able to virtually put the information in the users’ hands to allow them to try-on the latest products and trends for themselves before they purchase. Our competitive set ranges from Hearst and Conde Nast to newer sites like Sugar and Refinery29, but we firmly believe that our mission of “Style to the People” and the acquisition of a very sophisticated try-on technology sets us completely apart from our competitiors.
Prof. Denning: How does new technology and social media fit into/impact your professional role?
Jaclyn: Social media plays a huge role in my life at StyleCaster. Brands are always trying to achieve engagement through their social channels, so we publicize any custom content we create for our advertisers via our social channels. We also incorporate social media into our promotions and contests.
Prof Denning: During your time at Shazam Entertainment, you worked as a Sales Planner, with experience in Digital Sales Planning from Condé Nast. Was the transition from Sales Planner to Client Services difficult or a natural transition and why did you make the switch? What advice would you give to a young publishing professional hoping to transition between different industry concentrations?
Jaclyn: Sales planning is really an entry-level introduction to sales and marketing in the digital media world. It’s a great way to find your footing in the industry and learn the inner workings of any company. Working at arguably one of the most prestigious publishing companies in the US was an amazing privilege and learning experience, but being part of building a sales team at a smaller company helped me hone in on my talents and assist positions aside from my role as sales planner. My experience in the publishing business combined with my editorial background has really paved the way for me to take on my current, sales role at StyleCaster. I also have the opportunity to oversee and produce content both our advertisers and our users love.
Prof. Denning: Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace prepared you for your publishing career.
Jaclyn: My educational experience at Pace really laid the groundwork for me to enter a professional workplace and have a working knowledge of the roles and expectations of working in publishing. My internship at Fitness Magazine was definitely the highlight of my experience as a graduate student at Pace. I had the opportunity to research and write a great deal in the women’s lifestyle space, which has always been where my professional passion lived.
Prof. Denning: What advice would you give to students who still have to write their graduate thesis papers? What were the most important points you learned from your own thesis, titled “Advertising Censorship in Print Media: Can Magazines Protect Their Editorial Integrity?”
Jaclyn: My advice would be to find a topic that’s relevant to the current landscape of the publishing industry. The irony of my own thesis paper is that what I learned in the process is extremely relevant to my day-to-day life here at StyleCaster. There has always been an age old struggle between the “church and state” of magazine publishing, but with social media and advertisers constantly pushing to make their message more organic and integrated into content, my job is walking a very fine line between serving my clients and our readers.
Prof. Denning: What advice would you give students entering the field do to set themselves apart from other applicants? Do you look for anything specific on a resume or in an interview?
Jaclyn: I always look for someone who speaks in specifics. For example, I would look for someone who lists their specific skills with various software programs and lays out their exact skill set and experience over someone who “is a team player” or “is detail-oriented.” Not to say these things aren’t extremely important, but it is better to highlight a tangible skillset over behaviors that cannot really be proven or determined through a resume. I think the most important skills students need when entering the workplace are the ability to actively listen, be willing to learn and the willingness to work hard. This isn’t an easy 9AM-5PM industry, but it is extremely rewarding and fun when you find the right job for you.
Prof. Denning: How has the industry changed since you began your career? What was the work environment like then (in terms of job opportunities) then as opposed to now?
Jaclyn: The industry was probably at its worst when I graduated. With the Kindle and iPad coming into the market, there was a big “print is dead” mentality compounded by the recession that made it extremely difficult to find work in the field. This is ultimately how I ended up working in sales but as happy accidents tend to go, I’ve found a place where I have the perfect marriage of my editorial skills, creativity and business acumen.
Prof. Denning: Have you always been interested publishing and media and where did that passion come from?
Jaclyn: I was a Literature major in under grad with a minor in writing so my passion for reading and writing has always been there. I felt a publishing degree was a great way to tailor this passion into a skill set I could take into the market place and become successful.
Prof Denning: What do you think the future holds for news websites like StyleCaster and or magazines that they compete with—specifically for graduates hoping to enter the digital media and publishing world?
Jaclyn: I think it’s a great big, wide world out there in the digital media publishing space and every time we think that we have predicted its trajectory, it changes again. So I think that if you’re looking for a career that keeps you on your toes and constantly learning then this is a great place to be.
Prof: Denning: What do you think the biggest trends in website/magazine publishing are today? What are the biggest challenges that publishers face?
Jaclyn: The ability for anyone to create content was a huge problem that established publishers faced in the last few years. However, I think the public still relies on trusted sources and this trend has fallen back in the favor of the “authorities” on specific topics. For example, people still look to Allure magazine as the authority on beauty trends and product reviews, even though there are countless amounts of beauty bloggers posting daily about the same subjects.
Prof. Denning: Any other advice you would like to offer up to our students and to those looking to survive and thrive in this industry?
Jaclyn: Be tough and aggressive, but humble. Be a sponge. Stay late and show up early and never, ever think you are above a task that needs to be done.
Thank you Jaclyn for your thoughtful and informative interview!