Jo-Marie Baker was a daily newspaper journalist for almost a decade before launching Tailor-Made Media in 2008. With a Bachelor of Arts degree and post-graduate Diploma in Journalism under her belt from UC, she landed a sought-after position at the NZ Herald and spent five years learning from the best daily news reporters and feature writers in the country.
In 2004 she moved to Tauranga and became Chief Reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times. This is where her editing, proof-reading, time management skills and news judgement really came to the fore, as she led a team of 10 reporters to produce six editions a week.
Today she works as a freelance copywriter/content creator for individual clients including marketing, PR and digital design agencies.
Why did you choose to study a Bachelor of Arts degree and a graduate diploma in journalism?
From about the age of 9 or 10 I knew I wanted to be a journalist. I loved the idea of being where all the action was and finding out the news first-hand. As the end of high school approached, I researched all the tertiary courses in journalism and it soon became apparent that the University of Canterbury’s course had the best reputation among employers. Because it was a graduate diploma, I enrolled in an BA first with the sole aim of gaining admittance to the GradDipJ. Entry was restricted to just 20 people per year, so it was tough to get in. I had to develop a published portfolio of work during my undergraduate studies to prove my worth.
What does your present role involve?
I’m now a self-employed copywriter/content creator and work with a wide range of companies to develop written content for their websites, marketing material, PR and internal/external comms. I work with everyone from law firms to tourism organisations, not-for-profits, agricultural clients, healthcare providers… literally every sector and topic imaginable. I use all my journalism skills to interview, research and write content. The only difference is I hand it over to the client to use as they wish, as opposed to an editor for publication in a newspaper.
How did the idea of Tailor-made Media come about?
I took maternity leave from the Bay of Plenty Times (where I was Chief Reporter) when I had my first child in 2008. I never intended to start a business, but a friend of a friend asked if I would help write a press release and it slowly grew from there. I realised I could still write and earn a living without having to be in a newsroom. I now have two children aged 13 and 11 and work full time from home.
What motivates you?
I have a genuine passion for words – a get a thrill every time I nail an intro or elicit a great quote from someone. I enjoy helping people to share their stories and articulate their thoughts.
What’s one piece of advice you would give new graduates?
Being your own boss is a tremendous thing. It’s important to gain industry experience and learn from the best, but don’t be afraid to go out on your own when the time is right.