Alyssa Zeisler, engagement strategist, leads multidisciplinary teams in creating audience strategies and developing new editorial products, formats and distribution methods to grow reach and engagement. Her expertise is bringing together disparate data to inform, inspire and shape the FT’s journalism and its relationship with readers.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I had a summer internship in private wealth management during my undergrad. While there, I realised there was an opportunity for advisors to connect better with their clients. I started to curate and write a newsletter (the “weekly market roundup”) to inform clients about market news and to help build better relationships. That was my first taste of digital media and is what led me to work in media — and specifically the Financial Times — after graduation.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I almost immediately check my phone upon waking up — email, social media, and slack. This gives me a sense of what (if anything) has to be taken care of immediately and will shape the rest of my day. As I am based in New York but the FT is headquartered in London, I always wake up to a lot of new information.
After that, my day tends to go one of two ways. I either get to the office around 7:30 am and start a day of meetings (I have a global role, which means a lot of video conferences) or I head to a local cafe where I respond to emails, analyse data, catch up on industry news and/or develop new experiments to try in our editorial team.
Before heading home, I try to figure out my priorities for the next day and/or hit the gym.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
I couldn’t do my job without Slack and Google Hangouts — both communication tools which let me engage with colleagues globally — and Trello for project management. I have a MacBook, which I pretty much take with me everywhere. It means I can pull up dashboards, presentations and the like in conversation: show, don’t tell!
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INSPIRED?
Inspiration can come from many different places, but I always find that either (1) taking a walk or (2) going for a paddle (I canoe competitively) can help me to decompress, which will, in turn, help interesting ideas surface.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
“We ought to say a feeling of and, a feeling of if, a feeling of but, quite as readily as we say a feeling of blue or a feeling of cold.”
It is a quote from William James. I like it because it speaks to the power of the human mind and collective understanding. (I was a psychology major in college.)
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING/INNOVATIVE THING YOU HAVE SEEN ON ANOTHER OUTLET OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?
The Skimm has a really nuanced understanding of their customer and I think has done some interesting things. For instance, the tone they adopted was drastically different from more established media and a clear differentiator. The idea of the calendar app I also thought was really interesting. It’s a great example of audience-first thinking and editorial product development.
WHAT IS THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
How to develop and implement multidisciplinary audience strategies.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
I think that asking questions and being open to admitting that you don’t know something — as long as you’re also trying to find out the answer — are two crucial qualities for anyone working in digital. It’s an evolving space so you don’t need all the answers, just the curiosity and drive to help you find them.