What I’ve Learned During My B2B Media Career

Cory Sekine-Pettite is ASBPE’s immediate past president. In this post he shares what he’s learned from a career in B2B media, more than 20 years of ASBPE membership, and seven years in ASBPE’s leadership.

Throughout my career, I have strived to stay relevant and to do my job better by continuing to learn new skills and technologies. The main reason I joined ASBPE — more than 20 years ago as a founding board member of the Atlanta chapter — was to continue my journalism education. Now, as I step away from front-facing leadership with the ASBPE National Board (and into the past-president role), I want to share some thoughts on five things I’ve learned as a B2B editor, and an ASBPE member and volunteer. If you are considering membership or volunteering with ASBPE, hopefully this article will convince you that this organization is well worth your time and effort.

1. Being part of a community is both inspiring and comforting

Until I was approached to help start an ASBPE chapter in Atlanta, the only other B2B journalists I knew were my coworkers. Frankly, it hadn’t occurred to me then to seek out a community of B2B journalists. Thankfully, they found me and instantly gave me a new group of friends. More importantly, these friends understood my job (the good and bad) and my career choice. These folks — and others I have met along the way — have taught me management skills, leadership skills, and more. We have advised each other. We have been there for each other through layoffs and economic downturns. To this day, I’m still in contact with many of the people from my original ASBPE network. We still support each other in multiple ways, including as sounding boards, sharing our network of contacts, and by providing freelance assignments.

2. B2B media is a better place for a long-term journalism career

Like many of you, I began my journalism career at a traditional newspaper. I worked full-time hours for part-time pay and still somehow managed to hold a second job to make ends meet. Yes, the reporting gig was fun and educational, but to avoid burnout, I found my first magazine job about a year later. Magazines are my passion. It was my major in journalism school. I hadn’t quite found B2B at that point — I was working at a local lifestyle publication — but I was living my dream of writing longform articles. I was researching and reporting stories, getting into details that a newspaper’s limited space wouldn’t allow. Of course, I still wasn’t earning much money, but I felt like I had arrived. At the newspaper, I was a cog in the wheel; at that local magazine I was part of a small team churning out great magazines month after month.

3. Working in B2B journalism can build authority

After my first magazine job lost its luster, I discovered both B2B journalism and ASBPE. My entire world opened up. First, I learned that yes, I could, in fact, use my reporting skills to write for and edit a national magazine for civil engineers — with a monthly readership of 80,000 subscribers. Second, I learned there were dozens more trade publications in my city (at the time) doing great work for a varied national audience of real estate pros, developers, building contractors, and so much more. Why hadn’t my journalism school prepared me for this? Why was I never told about B2B media? (That’s a question for another blog post.)

I spent 10 years at that engineering magazine, learning more than I ever thought I would about infrastructure development and building design. I helped to launch a sister publication for structural engineers and developed a fascination for bridge design. I even started a series of columns on engineering history that became the impetus for a book. Meanwhile, ASBPE approached me to help get an Atlanta chapter off the ground. Meeting so many people who reported on a wide swath of industries with the same enthusiasm as I did was eye-opening. We just understood each other — even if we didn’t fully understand the businesses each of us covered. Plus, winning Azbee Awards for my work meant that I was earning respect and admiration from my readers. And my magazine was earning an industry reputation as well.

 4. There’s a leader in you; believe me

Were it not for the support and encouragement of my fellow board members (past and present), I never would have moved into a leadership position within ASBPE. I never sought the spotlight or considered myself leadership material — at least not a “natural leader.” But a few, key people within this organization convinced me that I do indeed have leadership qualities such as integrity, accountability, a passion for journalism, and the earned respect of my peers. With their backing, I moved through the ranks and into the presidency of this organization — a position I held for three years. I learned so much about myself (including that I have more to learn) and about managing a nonprofit, that I plan to continue educating myself on leadership and public speaking. I can guarantee that you have it within you to be a leader as well. If you’re already managing a team at work, or controlling interviews with business tycoons and industry trailblazers, then you can become a B2B media leader. Volunteer for the national board or a regional chapter and we’ll help you take the next steps.

5. Joining ASBPE granted me access to hundreds of B2B journalists around the country

Whether it has been through direct contact, webinars, newsletters, or the ASBPE website, I have learned new skills, stayed abreast of media industry trends, found mentors, made new friends, and hopefully passed along some of my own knowledge. Of course, there’s always more I can learn to better my job performance, to provide better stories for my readers, and to stay relevant in my career. As Brian Morrissey of The Rebooting pointed out during our recent virtual conference, for those of us in the second half of our careers, it’s all about networking. ASBPE is the best network there is for B2B journalists!

Cory Sekine-Pettite

Cory Sekine-Pettite is immediate past-president of ASBPE and an award-winning, Atlanta-based editor with more than 25 years of experience in traditional news reporting and B2B publishing. He has covered everything from local politics to architecture and engineering, food service and franchise ownership, and the sports industry. Sekine-Pettite has been an ASBPE member for more than 20 years and has served on the national board since 2013.

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