Stuart Elliott — Former NY Times Ad Columnist Offers His Take

stuart elliottEarlier this month, Stuart Elliott, the New York Times’s advertising guru, took a buyout after 23 years at the paper. Now that he has more free time, Elliott, who Ad Age called “massively influential,” stopped by City College recently to entertain our MCA students with his wit and wisdom. 

Journalism student Jose Cardoso covered Elliott’s “Lunch with Leaders” presentation. 

Last month, former New York Times columnist Stuart Elliott held a special Q&A presentation in Shepard Hall at The City College of New York. He spoke to the audience a little bit about himself, answered student questions, and discussed the future of the digital media.

First things first: Why did Elliott leave the Times? “The buyout offers were structured so that the longer you had worked at The New York Times the more lucrative the buyout offer was,” said Elliott. “For somebody like myself who had worked at the Times for more than 20 years, it turned out to be like they say in ‘The Godfather’ an offer that I couldn’t refuse.”

Elliott has seen many changes in the media industry over the years, including a new generation of “digital natives.” “That generation is growing up without ever having known a day without tablets,” he said.

Even an expert like Elliott isn’t sure where the advertising-marketing business is headed in five years.  “I’m a lousy predictor,” he said. “I thought aol would be like the biggest thing.”

Still, he added: “Technology is going to continue to remake the advertising and marketing business whether it’s the agencies and how they make ads or how the clients want the adds created. There’s going to be much more of an involvement with public relations.”

He offered some parting advise to the roomful of students. “Start putting down some digital footprints,” said Elliott, “but be very careful about what you do and say in the social media. “Clean up your act kids!”


How Twitter Can Get You a Job

the-devil-wears-prada-funny-humor-feminiest-review-anna-wintour-shkA recent article in the New York Times discussed the skills necessary to help you get and keep an entry level media job. And unlike Andy, Anne Hathaway’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, entry levels jobs now demand more than just answering the phone, picking up dry cleaning and running to Starbucks. Increasingly, employers want and need assistants with social media skills. Yes, the Devil tweets about Prada.

And even outside of the magazine industry, growing numbers of all kinds of companies are looking for social media managers to handle communication and promotion through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.  And some companies have stopped recruiting employees to handle social media. HR directors simply expect all new hires to have those skills. “We are seeing an increased demand for social savvy candidates across the business – from human resources to product to customer service,” noted Amy Crow in Quartz. She’s the communication director for, the popular jobs website.

So what are the must-have social media skills? Here’s a list of things to know and do:

1. Get comfortable with the important social media platforms–Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Seriously, this is a first, basic step.

2. Learn to use social media in an effective, professional way–not just posting a picture of your dinner on Facebook or tweeting what you’re doing this second. Instead, understand how social media can be a promotional tool, how to find information and sources, how to tell stories in words and pictures.

3. Make sure your own blogs, tweets, posts and so on, reflect your strengths and talents. And, of course, be careful that you’re looking and behaving appropriately.

4. Write well. Improve your writing and avoid typos and grammatical errors, even in a 140-character tweet.

5. Take clear, interesting photos. An out of focus, boring photograph won’t attract eyeballs to pinterest or insta.

6. Learn video storytelling. If you can shoot and edit videos on a camera or phone and edit them to post on youtube or vine, you’ll be all the more marketable.

6. Manage your time well. Being a social media maniac–even an effective one–can turn into a time suck.

7. And remember what your most important assets always are: being hardworking, reliable and open to learning.

Do You Need More Training?

logo_s280 Most of us do. CUNY Graduate School of Journalism offers an easy and pretty inexpensive way to learn and refine photography, video editing, branding, data visualization, WordPress, social media, website design and other skills journalists MUST HAVE in the fast-changing media landscape.

Beginning in March, CUNY’s J Camp is offering a new slate of day-long classes and workshops for $60 each. For more information click here.

Upcoming Workshops

CNN Internships, Attention Latino Journalists, Columbia U–and More News You Should Know

Hey Everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed the day off. Here’s some news, events and information you should know about:

CNN Internships!

CNN has posted its summer internships. There are LOTS of them on all kinds of shows. Go to  CNN’s career page for a complete list and apply right away. Deadlines are rolling; as soon as they are filled, they go off line. And please make sure your resume is up to date and correctly formatted. For help, click here.

#Social Media Week in @NYC

It’s Social Media Week February 18 – 22, 2013. Grab a friend and your phone and attend any of the many events. You’ll learn about Twitter, Facebook, blogging and so many other social media platforms–and how to use them for work and play. Remember, people: Social Media Manager is one of the fastest growing jobs out there. Here’s the schedule.

linkedin-LinkedIn-logo Get Linked In

Sam Gronner, a CCNY alum, will hold a workshop about how to create and maximize the linked-in resume on Thursday. (You should all have one!) Here are the details:

Thursday, February 21st, 12:30pm-1:30pm in Shepard Hall room 491.

Save the Date: Calling All Hispanic Journalists!

Come meet, mingle and learn from some of the country’s top journalists based in New York City–CNN, Fox Latino, NBC and CBS! Register now, and get the student rate–$15! March 8-9, 2013 @ the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in midtown, and you don’t have to be Hispanic to attend (of course) and students are encouraged to come! Here’s what’ll be discussed:

  • Targeting U.S. Hispanics: How will new ventures better serve the Latino community
  • Using social media to best brand yourself
  • One man band: Separating fact from fiction
  • Sports Journalism: How you can get in the game
  • Yo Soy Mi Propio Jefe: How to succeed on your own
  • Pitching Diversity In Newsrooms
  • Resume, professional work critiques
  • Career Advice & Networking Roundtables
  • Switching Careers: Is it right for me?

 Interested in J School? 

Learn about the new and improved Columbia Journalism School (it’s around the corner @ 116 and Broadway) at the Showcase Weekend, March 7,8, 9. It’s free and informative. Click here to RSVP and see the schedule.

Save the “Tiger?”

Earlier this spring, Charlie Sheen, the infamous former star of TV’s “Two and a Half Men,” tweeted that he was on the hunt for an intern with “Tiger’s blood,” and over 70,000 answered the call. One of them was CCNY Ad/PR major Rumi Syed, 21, and he’s outlasted tens of thousands of potential interns to handle Sheen’s social media needs for $10 an hour. As of this writing, he’s made it to round three.

Says MCA social media professor Alicia Evans about Syed: “Rumi was an exceptional student who was always prepared.  His writing skills are excellent and his ability to quickly grasp concepts and apply them to ‘real world’ applications are great. I think it is a marvelous opportunity and will certainly look good on his resume. Rumi will be an asset!”

Here, Reporting and Writing student Candice Green talks to Syed, who lives in Brooklyn, about why he wants to work for the ferocious star and what he plans to do if he gets the internship.

Q: Charlie Sheen is known for being angry, abusive and some might add, psychotic. What encouraged you to still want to intern for him?

Syed: To be honest, it is less about Charlie Sheen and more about crisis management. I feel like his PR team isn’t doing enough to prepare him for the media. Also, I’m hoping this is my one-way ticket to Hollywood; not acting but to become a publicist for other celebrities. I mean who wouldn’t hire me after working for Charlie Sheen?

Q: With all the damage Sheen has placed upon himself, do you honestly feel his PR team could have saved him?

Syed: Yes, his PR team failed to create a strategic crisis management campaign. For example, Sheen is involved in a lot of charity work. He donated to Haiti and now he is donating to the tsunami relief effort in Japan through his talk show tour. How many people know about that? Very few.

Q: What were you looking to get out of this internship?

Syed: Experience, just like every other internship. But I know this one will be different than any other internship. It will be intense, and I doubt I’m prepared enough to take on Charlie Sheen. But I’m pretty confident thanks to CCNY MCA professors, especially Professor [Lynne] Scott-Jackson. She actually helped me prepare for the third round of the internship.

Q: Were you a fan of his prior to his new behavior?

Syed: Definitely, “Platoon” is one of my favorite movies, and that’s way before “Two and a Half Men” came out. And, yes, “Two and a Half Men” just happens to be one of my favorite TV shows.

Q: If you were to meet him, what’s the first thing you would talk with him about?

Syed: Well first, I would get his autograph like a fan. Then maybe ask him what is it that he wants? Maybe he doesn’t want the good guy image but still wants a huge fan base.

Q: How does it feel to make it this far?

Syed: It feels great, and I’m really excited. I mean to be considered good enough out of 74,000 applicants is huge for me! I guess now I am pretty sure that I’m in the right major.

Q: How did your family and close friends feel about you applying for this internship and getting so far?

Syed: Friends were jealous but very supportive, and my mother called all of her co-workers–embarrassing!