THAT TIME I GOT TO MEET SOMEONE
WHO WORKS AT BUZZFEED
WHO WORKS AT BUZZFEED
What a time to be alive. A fellow Zeta is the General Manager of Buzzfeed's Tasty. If you don't know what Tasty is, check it out right now. Welcome to your new addiction.
Anyway, here's the story I wrote for the Spring 2017 issue of ZTA's Themis magazine after emailing back and forth with Ashley McCollum and the Tasty PR contact.
Words of Wisdom from Ashley McCollum
If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the increasingly popular one-minute cooking videos that bring delicious recipes from around the world to life. Though other companies have tried to imitate the format, the media company that does these videos best is Tasty, a division of BuzzFeed with more than 82 million Facebook followers (as of early March 2017). With such a large fan base, the General Manager of Tasty has to be insightful, proactive, and in-tune with the latest trends in digital media. Thanks to a passion for the business and a lot of hard work, Ashley McCollum (Kappa Beta Chapter, Presbyterian College) fits the bill. Though her path has been unconventional, it has gotten Ashley to her current role and led to her being named to Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30—Media” list. Ashley took time out of her busy day to share some advice with her fellow Zetas.
Take on opportunities and challenges.
Having a five-year plan can work for some, but Ashley has found success in being flexible and capitalizing on opportunities and challenges as they’ve come. In high school and college, she was interested in politics and law, but she later realized she wasn’t interested in policies as much as the media aspect of politics. This realization helped steer her toward her first job as an NBC Page and then into NBC News public relations, though she “didn't really know what PR was or why on earth a media company needed it.” Still, it was a fit. “I was a natural and stayed there for a few years until I made the jump to BuzzFeed in 2012,” she said. Since then, Ashley has held a number of varied positions across several different teams at BuzzFeed. “I think that kind of horizontal approach is crucial for understanding a company,” she said. “Ultimately, that experience is what led to my running a vertical—Tasty. It taught me all the important communication skills and tactics to get things done across a big organization.” In short, don’t be afraid to make a lateral move to ultimately prepare yourself for a promotion down the road.
Use past experiences to your advantage.
Your experiences in ZTA aren’t just temporary; they can prepare you up for long-term success. Ashley served her chapter as VP III/Membership Chairman which, she said, “really set me up nicely for a role in communications and business. It’s all about the story you tell.” The skills she used and taught the rest of the chapter to help recruit women are some of the same skills she uses to recruit employees and land advertising agreements. Further, Ashley is well-versed in making transitions and working her way up through a couple of companies, so she knows what works and what doesn’t. “Advocate for yourself and find someone who will advocate on your behalf,” she said.
Get “obsessed” and immerse yourself in what you want to do.
“You can overcome anything if you are obsessed with it,” she said, speaking to anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in media. This applies to learning new digital models and technology, as well as social media. “There is a deep intellectual challenge to the work that we do,” she said, referring to her current role at Tasty. “There is no playbook that tells you how to scale a digital and social business. There are not always clear answers. In fact, most of the time, there aren’t.” By committing to constantly learning and evolving her craft, however, Ashley has found her answers for success.