Reaching out to journalism professionals and what it taught me about building personal networks

We launched WePress app at the beginning of July 2015. It’s been years in the making, but we were waiting for the right time. News finds it’s way to our inboxes and social timelines every day, but we rarely think about the communication, coordination and collaboration that goes into getting it there. What it comes down to is people. They number in the thousands. A network of journalism professionals spread across the world producing news that informs us about local and global events. It all happens so quickly, breaking news primarily, that you’d think there couldn’t be an opportunity to improve this well-oiled machine.

If it’s not broken, it still needs to evolve

Leading up to our launch, we spent a lot of our time speaking to journalism professionals to understand their workflow and the challenges they face. It wasn’t easy because unless you are a veteran journalist, breaking into the market is challenging. Even journalism students find it difficult to secure an internship with a news organization. We learned the reason was that the entire industry is decentralized and has been since the beginning. To find journalism professionals we had to search through LinkedIn, job sites, Facebook groups, Twitter and thousands of Publisher sites. Still, they had their challenges and restricted our communication. The majority of people we reached out to didn’t reply because those platforms weren’t conducive to discussing business opportunities. Everything seemed to function on word of mouth, and the people who had been doing it the longest found the situation to be unbroken. But what about the remaining majority who are looking for growth opportunities both locally and internationally? How can they gain access to peers now without spending a decade building their private network?

Building a global directory of journalism professionals

We decided that a Directory and InMail that’s exclusive to the journalism industry would solve this, so we set out to create it. It had to be three things. Intuitive enough to fit on your mobile phone screen. It needed standardization, so everyone followed the same format and added the same information. Lastly, it needed an InMail feature so any two people could use it to chat about business, leaving the social stuff for Facebook and Twitter. We’ve spent the past few weeks scouring the entire internet for you. It hasn’t been easy, and we’ve met with some cynicism, but the majority of people we’ve reached out to have embraced WePress.

In essence, we are experiencing first hand just how difficult it is to find journalism professionals on the web, establish communication and then invite them to collaborate. Our happiness comes from reaching critical mass. When we do, then we would have made it so much easier for thousands of journalism professionals across the world to connect, communicate and collaborate with each other, seamlessly, using WePress.

Mohamed Parham Al Awadhi

Co-Founder, WePress app