Ask The Expert: Janine Verreault

August 30, 2021

What inspired you to start your career as an editor?

I always loved reading and writing, so it seemed a natural fit. I did my BA in English and French at SFU so I spent five glorious years devouring great works of literature and writing about them. I also had a strong interest in journalism, so I followed up my BA with a diploma in Broadcast Communications at BCIT. There I discovered a love of news and storytelling, which set me on my path to becoming an editor. 

What was your first Industry job?

My first industry job… well, there were a few. I did a short stint as an on-air traffic reporter; I covered press conferences and media scrums for a transcription company out of Ottawa; I worked for a Japanese TV station at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference way back in 1997, but my first full-time position in the industry was as an editor for Youthink magazine. Youthink was distributed to high schools throughout B.C. and Alberta and written entirely by students. I worked closely with aspiring teen journalists and mentored them on writing and doing interviews (we sat down in person with people like Lady Gaga, Oasis, Metallica)—it was pretty much a dream job in my 20s! Then I would edit their pieces, lay out the magazine, even physically distribute it in schools. It was a great first job in that I learned every aspect of publishing, which has served me well throughout my career.

What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?

The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome is I think similar to anyone in the media industry. It’s tough to break into this business and hard to stay in this business. With many media groups downsizing over the last several years, I’ve seen friends and colleagues lose their jobs and be forced to move into other sectors. It’s a struggle, so I feel extra lucky to have “survived” in this industry for so long.

What has been a highlight of your career?

I have been fortunate to have been presented with so many exciting opportunities—launching the print edition of BCLiving when I returned from maternity leave, creating the Simply Beautiful subscription box (which has been named the Best Overall Box in Canada three years in a row now at the Canadian Subscription Box Awards!), interviewing incredible celebrities, politicians and the likes, but if I’m being sentimental, I’d have to say it was meeting my husband when I interviewed his band 20 years ago. That was pretty life-changing.

What are 2 tips you want to pass along to PR professionals that send you pitches?

One: Make it brief and clear. Editors are busy people and bombarded with email pitches all day, every day and we simply don’t have time to read lengthy emails that don’t get the point right away. Two: Catch our attention and let us know why we should care about your pitch, and why it would work for us: Is it a local angle? Something that you already know we like to cover? Customize it to our publication. How will it benefit our audience? With limited resources, we need to be wise about how we spend our time and money.

What is one piece of advice you’d give someone that wants to pursue a career like

My best piece of advice is to be open to all opportunities and to be flexible. Expect that your job and role will change frequently in this industry and you need to adapt to survive. Don’t stagnate. Enjoy taking on new challenges. Get excited to learn. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

What are your predictions for the future of the media industry?

I see more and more investment in digital and social media as a way to engage with our audiences. I also predict more creativity with revenue streams as advertising continues to shift more towards places like Facebook. So, in BCLiving’s case, we now have an eCommerce division that will continue to grow and be a major part of my job in the future.