Day in the Life of a Social Media Coordinator: New York Post’s Delia Paunescu

Julia Haslanger

Meet Delia Paunescu.

Delia Paunescu outside the New York Post’s offices in Midtown.

She’s a social media coordinator at the New York Post.

She loves it, even when it means getting to the office at 7 a.m. or checking tweets on the weekends.

Let’s take a look at Delia’s typical workday.

“I’m pretty sure I look at my phone before I’m aware that I’m looking at my phone. I’m a snoozer,” Paunescu said.

She scrolls though the alerts on her phone (including Twitter alerts for each tweet from @nypost and @breakingnews), emails, and any other notifications, and asks “Is there anything crazy breaking?” (Usually the answer is no.) Then she snoozes until the next alarm.

“Sometimes if there’s something I remember — ‘Oh I need to respond to that email’ — then I either do it right as I’m getting out of bed or flag it for later.”

Her morning routine always includes WNYC.

Depending on her shift, it could be that she only listens to it for 10 minutes before heading out the door for a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift, or if she’s working the later shift (1–9 p.m.), she’ll listen to an entire show.

“I feel like listening to radio news is basically cheating,” Paunescu said. “I know everything I need to know, before I get into work.”

Paunescu and her coworker trade off early and late shifts, which she says helps give them both a better understanding of the newsroom, since the needs are different at different times of the day.

“First thing we do every day is put up the cover, because the New York Post cover is so iconic, and people who are much older and wiser (and crankier) than me work really hard on it,” Paunescu said.

The cover goes on Facebook, with a link to the lead story, then to Twitter, and to a relatively new Pinterest board. (The overnight web producers take care of posting it to Tumblr.) Sometimes covers also go on Instagram, but that’s more rare.

The next task is to go through the overnight stories. Some stories are posted to social media by the overnight producers, but many more are not, and even those that posted in the middle of the night often have updates that should be shared on social. After getting through the backlog of stories, she moves on to the Metro account, then the Page Six account.

She uses, SimpleReach and SocialFlow to track how stories are doing and what’s trending. If a sports story is already trending, but the sports editor isn’t in yet, she’ll tweet that story from the sports Twitter account. (Once the online sports editor is in the office, he manages the sports Twitter account.)

Then it’s time to finish writing and send the in-house social note. The newsletter goes to editors and other staff, “whoever wants it, really,” and usually describes what content did well on social the previous day and why.

“Usually it’s just ‘this got great traffic from Facebook’ or ‘this tweet happened to do really well because so-and-so retweeted it,’ ” Paunescu said. “Sometimes it’s a little more exciting, and you can write: Reddit found this three-year-old story and it’s blowing up, so expect that to do really well today.”

After the social note goes out, it’s time for the 8:30 a.m. editorial meeting. She recaps some of the highlights from the note about what did well on social, and then dives into telling the editors what’s trending generally on Twitter. From there, she often suggests story ideas related to trending topics that fall within the Post’s coverage areas.

“I definitely appreciate that a lot of our editors are really open to story ideas that generate from social sources,” she said.

For the rest of the day, she says it’s a mix of looking at the stories publishing to the website, working with web producers on stories they’re preparing, and finding the best ways to share those stories across all the social platforms.

Here’s how she describes it:

“I feel like I sometimes jump inside my computer, and there’s this pile of content, and I’m like: ‘This goes here, this goes there, this goes here, that would look really pretty if we massage it a little and change it and put it over here.’”

Paunescu says she also will continue to flag possible stories emerging on social to the appropriate desk. One example is she takes screengrabs from celebrities’ Snapchats and emails those photos to editors. In more serious examples, during heavy breaking news like the recent explosion in the East Village, the whole social team goes into reporter mode, running a liveblog on the website.

At the end of the day, whoever is working the later shift will make sure there’s enough content scheduled to take the accounts to at least 4 or 5 a.m. The late person also will summarize what’s done well during the day, as a draft for the morning social note.

Paunescu says even once she’s left the office, she’s still keeping an eye on the social accounts, getting push notifications on her phone for every post. She says in large part that’s a safety measure so she’ll know right away if anything’s been hacked or if there’s breaking news that she should hop on and help with.

“I don’t mind. I genuinely don’t mind. News takes precedence, if you need to be on, you need to be on,” she said.

She credits her detour into marketing for her dedication to news. It’s where she feels she should be.

So let’s look at that: How do you get to a place where you love being “on” 24/7?

Paunescu checks her notifications at the end of our interview.

Paunescu’s passion for journalism started in elementary school when she got her own segment on the school’s closed-circuit morning show. Fast forward 10 years and she’s writing for the Hofstra student newspaper, fully committed to journalism since she decided that going to law school and becoming Ally McBeal wasn’t the right choice for her.

After college she got her first experience managing social media for a newsroom, when she worked for Vision Monday, a magazine for those in the ophthalmic industry.

When she started, they had a Facebook and Twitter page, but weren’t sure what to do with them.

“I was the youngest person on staff. And they were like, ‘Here you go, young person, figure this out.’” Paunescu said. “And that’s really what I think everyone was doing in 2010. But I felt really fortunate because I genuinely wanted it to be good.”

After two years at the magazine, where Paunescu was a reporter, social media person and assistant editor, she dove into the marketing world. She went to VaynerMedia, a social media marketing firm, where she said she got a crash course in social. But she couldn’t let go of journalism completely, and started freelancing for Muck Rack. The arrangement only lasted six months.

“I loved what we were learning at Vayner, but at the end of the day, I didn’t want to tweet for Pepsi or Puppy Chow — I wanted to do news.”

Paunescu transitioned into doing freelancing full-time — writing for Muck Rack, New York Magazine, and others.

A few months into freelancing, she started a three-month part-time contract with Food Network as a social media coordinator. Three months turned into more than a year, and she continued to blog for New York Magazine on the weekends and write Muck Rack Daily on weekdays, which meant she was working seven days a week.

When Food Network decided it wanted to make the position full-time, she knew her plate was already full and she stepped back. “I didn’t want that person to be me, so I left.”

Soon after, someone she had met at a Muck Rack meetup let her know that the New York Post was hiring for its social team. Paunescu said she was really enjoying freelancing and wasn’t looking for a full-time job, but she went in to meet with the team anyway.

“At the time, the Post office had the really old-school grey, dingy look that you know you’ve imagined all newsrooms look like. And as soon as I walked in, I was like ‘Yes, I want to work here. This is wonderful.’ That’s a crazy thing. Most people don’t walk into an office that hasn’t been updated since like 1992 and are like ‘Oh yeah, this is for me.’”

“But I realized my first love is the reporting and the journalism, and so being able to take everything I knew about social and new media and bring it to the Post was really exciting.”

She took the job and gave up all of her side gigs, surprising those who’d watched her voluntarily juggle three jobs and live the freelancer life for years.

Friends expressed surprise when Paunescu left freelancing to settle down at the New York Post.

Paunescu’s been at the Post for a year now, and says she feels like Goldilocks.

“It’s taking everything I do know about social and everything I know about journalism … I get the best of both worlds.”

ALSO: Day in the Life of an Engagement Editor: The Nation’s Annie Shields

Social Journalism 101

Understanding the new roles for journalists in newsrooms — particularly around engaging and growing audiences

    Julia Haslanger

    Written by

    Journalism nerd exploring audience engagement, analytics and newsrooms. My path so far: WI ▹ Mizzou ▹ CO ▹ DC ▹ NYC ▹ Chicago. Engagement consultant at Hearken.

    Social Journalism 101

    Understanding the new roles for journalists in newsrooms — particularly around engaging and growing audiences

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