Bespoke Media Service – Gemma Westacott

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Gemma radiates positivity, and turning negatives into positives is part of the everyday philosophy of this highly motivated media professional operating from the Sunshine Coast.

When her first child was born very prematurely, Gemma was prompted to make a seachange in her life in order to be closer to family support, but soon found this had an effect on her career trajectory.

Moving to the Sunshine Coast from Sydney, after a ten year stint working for acclaimed media organisations in London, she found it tricky to move into more senior roles which reflected and utilised the depth of experience she had gained, and felt stuck in the less challenging roles she had been offered. With fewer senior media jobs available thanks to the smaller local industry, she re-evaluated her career and began freelancing on the side.

“I started working for different media and corporate clients running their social media, writing blogs, press releases, marketing material, ghost writing LinkedIn articles…it was a way to stay challenged and keep growing my skills, especially with the way social media has been so rapidly evolving.”

And it was soon clear to Gemma she had found her niche: running a bespoke media services company.

“If it relates to the media, communications or marketing, I’m here to help. I offer clients a service tailored to their business needs, whether that be pure content creation, such as writing press releases or articles for their websites or LinkedIn etc, all the way through to driving the growth of their social media platforms, or creating and managing a complete media strategy for their business.”

The diversity of working for different clients appeals to Gemma: “Every day brings something new and interesting to work on, and that’s probably the reason I decided to set up my business full-time. I thrive on being given a challenge or target, and on achieving top results for my clients.”

A journalist by trade, Gemma has 20 years of media experience under her belt. She has worked on newspapers, magazines, radio and online. This includes her decade in London writing for business publications, including as an editor of a personal finance website with the Financial Times. The proudest moments in her career so far have included becoming an editor of FTAdvisor.com, which is within the Financial Times group of publications.

“This was a big moment for me, especially as I was relatively young at the time. At FTAdviser we introduced a range of really innovative products and aspects to the website and went on to win an international TABBIE award and to also be named the Best Personal Finance Website (Trade) in the UK.”

Another “pretty special achievement” was seeing the podcast she oversaw for The Lawyer magazine rise up into the Top 10 Business Podcasts on iTunes in the UK.

But moving away from large media organisations to freelance work made Gemma realise that being self-employed in a boutique media business was actually the ideal choice for her.

“After years working on the ‘other side’ as a journalist, I realised that I had the perfect skill set to help people better communicate with their clients and really ‘sell’ themselves or their business in a more relatable way. Because of my background, I tend to look at things more from the end-user’s viewpoint than just as a traditional marketing spiel – how can we truly engage people, create a strong ‘tribe’, and ensue our message resonates and stays with them. Media management and copywriting really is an art form, as it’s fundamentally about persuading someone to act. You need to have a really clear understanding of how words can impact another person’s emotions and actions, and knowing how to achieve that is a real skill.”

Being able to work virtually has been a liberating experience:

I love that there’s the potential these days to collaborate with someone on the opposite side of the globe just as easily as you could with someone sat next to you. Video calls have really transformed the business world because you can still get that personal interaction from seeing each other’s faces, but now you have access to specialists in any field all around the world. I love that I get to share my expertise with businesses that are based all around the country and internationally, and it really is as easy as a few clicks of my mouse.”

Are online support networks important in the virtual knowledge economy?

“Definitely, it takes great skill to know when it’s best to outsource a task. The most savvy businesspeople know their strengths and play to those, while at the same time surrounding themselves with other highly skilled and intelligent people who can assist in other areas. Having a ‘sounding board’ can also help to ground you and keep you on target.”

For Gemma, self-employment has also meant achieving other dreams—like really living the seachange—is possible:

“My husband and I are also in the process of developing our own lifestyle and travel blog, which is something we’ve talked about for many years but are now taking the leap into. We were lucky enough to travel extensively pre-kids and that longing for wanderlust remains, so we want to tap into that within our own little slice of the world on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.”

Ask Gemma what her goals for her business are and she says, “To make a difference in the lives of my clients. It gives you such a fantastic buzz when you see how you’ve helped a client grow their business and achieve success.”

“The fear of losing my daughter really shook me and my priorities up,” says Gemma. “It’s a cliché, but having children changed my life. I think I’m a better writer and editor since having my children, as I think I’m more sensitive and mature in my approach to issues these days. It’s easy as a journalist to get caught up in the whirlwind of getting the ‘scoop’, but since having kids I am more aware of when it’s best to tread a little more softly.”

You can find Gemma’s Fembuiz profile here.                          Written by Gianna Huesch.

Whatever you do in life, always give 100%.”