Annie Johnson Williams (2014, BA Communications, Film Studies & Journalism minors)
Money Publishing Group – Audience Development Lead in Chicago, IL
Tell us about your current job role and employer. What are you currently working on?
I currently oversee all things related to social media and newsletters for Money Publishing Group, a brand whose portfolio includes Money.com and Digg.com. My job is to grow and develop off-platform audiences for both brands.
What key personal and/or career experiences led you to where you are today?
I’ve been fortunate enough to be published in several major national publications, including USA Today, NPR, Business Insider, MSNBC and more. For me, building up my portfolio was the key to getting my foot in the door in the industry early on. I’m grateful for the journalism experiences I had at Wake, like working on the OGB and interning for Wake Forest Magazine, which allowed me to show off my writing and editing abilities thereby helping me secure my first internships and jobs in media.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job? How do you navigate that challenge?
Everyday is a challenge to keep up with the ever-changing nature of social media. It’s impossible to guess what the algorithm will do next. I try to focus on creative ways to package and present content so that it’s relevant and interesting to our audiences. My goal is genuine organic growth and brand building, rather than to just game the system with growth hacks.
What advice would you give to Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college (finances, health, values, work/life balance)?
Know when to log off. As someone who works in a 24/7 industry, it’s easy to get caught up in work, or stuck scrolling on your phone for hours. It’s bad for your mental and physical health. Put the laptop or phone down, go outside, touch grass.
We know that relationships are important for any kind of development. How do you build and maintain your network?
One of the joys of working in journalism and social media is it’s pretty easy to keep up with former colleagues. I follow my ex-coworkers and am always rooting for their success. It’s so fun to be able to share a link to a friend’s work in a new publication. On the flip side, it’s a tough time to work in journalism. Layoffs are frequent so we have to stick together. Any time I can make an introduction or pass along a job listing to others in my network, I will.
Tell us about your mentoring relationships. What impact have these relationships had on your career and life?
I’m very fortunate to have had great mentors and role models throughout my career. I go to these people for industry advice, to tap into their networks and sometimes just to commiserate. Many of these people have been my editors and managers, and have modeled what great leadership looks like. I try to emulate them as a grow into a more managerial role myself.
What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are interested in working in your industry?
Get clips. If you’re interested in going into media of any kind, it’s so important to build your portfolio. Whether that’s via internships, student publications, freelancing, running your own blog, whatever, just get to work. No hiring manager is going to offer you a job unless you can show demonstrated interest.
What’s next for your career? What future goals or plans are you pursuing?
I’m stepping into a more strategy-focused role right now and am excited to build a team around that vision. I’m looking forward to scaling back a bit from the day-to-day grind of production and getting the time and space to think big and try new ideas.
Story published in August 2023. For current updates about Annie, visit her Linkedin.