Mike White: Pioneering Content Marketing at Reuters
Mike White wanted to transition from the financial industry to media. Although he studied journalism as an undergraduate at Boston University, he knew that being a reporter wasn’t quite right for him. He pursued a career in marketing, landing roles in the financial industry. He also earned his M.B.A. focused on Marketing & Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland.
However, he still felt the allure of marketing and communications. At the Reuters office, he tells me, “I wanted to reconnect with what I loved ten years ago as an undergrad – communications. I had a passion and an aptitude for that.”
He enrolled in the Strategic Communications graduate program at Columbia (now known as the Executive M.S. in Strategic Communication). He credits the program for giving him the skills, frameworks, professional network, and confidence to pursue a career in the media industry. Now the digital marketing lead for Reuters News Agency and Reuters Solutions, he’s exploring how the organization can best position their products and services to attract broadcasters and digital publishers around the world, as well as meet the custom content marketing needs of brands and agencies.
We spoke with Mike at the Reuters office in Times Square about his career, his aspirations, and how he implements his the program’s lessons in his marketing role.
What were you doing before you started working here?
I ended up getting a really good opportunity at an entrepreneurial company in New York, ICS Risk Advisors, in the financial risk management space. We grew the organization to acquisition, and it was a really exciting couple of years. But at the same time, ten years into my career, I had only been in financial services. This was never a space I was particularly interested in. I was looking around thinking, “How do I get out of this? What’s the next step?"
The other consideration was that I wanted to reconnect with what I loved ten years ago as an undergrad – communications. I had a passion and an aptitude for that. I started Googling to see what master’s programs might be out there, and that’s when I discovered the Strategic Communications graduate program. I graduated in 2013.
You had wanted a career change.
Yes. I wanted to reconnect with what I'm passionate about, which is media and communications. But it's hard to change industries.
Columbia helped in so many ways. Again, the art and science of communications is what I loved as an undergrad, and I didn't really get to dive into that at all [in my M.B.A. program], which was focused on the business of marketing. I felt I lacked a methodical approach to solving problems from a communications standpoint, from research and insights to messaging and product positioning. Columbia gave me all those tools and the confidence to speak about them and use them. It gave me an amazing network. My classmates, we're all still really close.
After you graduated, you worked on your own venture. Can you tell me about that?
I desperately wanted to get some media experience. Another classmate and I started a marketing communications consultancy, House on Fire Enterprises, which enabled media talent looking to extend their brand into new business ventures. We accessed these clients through my business partner’s network in sports and television. We started our own company, we set up an LLC, and we built our portfolios. That was instrumental in helping me get this role at Reuters. The idea to go out on our own came from guidance I got through my Columbia contacts: "Go out there and get real world experience in media. Build your portfolio and show what you can do. Then you’ll find an organization where they love that story.”
You were working while you were a master’s degree candidate. How did you balance work and school?
When you’re in a cohort, you're all working full-time, and you all have the same stresses. It actually bonds you and makes you closer because you’re going through this challenge together.
Why are you passionate about communications?
I love shaping the message that an audience sees. I’m interested in positioning, whether it's for a brand or just for a campaign. “How do I approach this project so that it creates the return that we need in order to grow our business and thrive?”
What's exciting to you about being in the media industry?
I like the arts, I like communications, so I think it's just a natural fit. It's not about the glitz and glamour, it's about the other side of it – connecting with people.
Learn more about the Executive Master of Science in Strategic Communication.