Ask The Expert – Sarah Anderson (Vancouver Narcity Editor)

October 8, 2020

Sarah Anderson is the Vancouver editor at Narcity – Canada’s digital downtown and go-to guide for local hotspots. Sarah joined the Narcity team 2.5 years ago and has gone on to cover everything related to local Vancouver news, travel, and the greater BC area! 

Narcity continues to be one of Canada’s more popular outlets, continuing to grow every year. The outlet is currently hiring new writers and looking for ways to offer more of their legendary content. People love the brand because they have the special sauce – giving the people what they want and never skimping on the content. Narcity is devoted to providing the best content for their audience, including Sarah who takes her role as the Vancouver editor with the same dedication. You will not catch Sarah writing about just anything – to work with her you need to offer something special, something like Narcity.

What inspired you to start your career at Narcity Canada?

When I first started my career at Narcity, I was motivated by the fact that I could be paid to do something I loved. Talking about Vancouver is my passion and the opportunity to bring that into my professional life was a huge step. The transition to Narcity was a jump in my career – I had come from a travel background. Narcity allowed me to be a journalist and grow my career.

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

The biggest challenge I have faced is one I am currently facing and will continue to face for the foreseeable future. Being a journalist during COVID-19 has been a challenging experience to say the least. There is no playbook or history for us to look back on. I can’t ask anyone for help or insight. It involves pivoting quickly and finding ways to adapt to new news every day. I went from talking about the best local tacos to having to cover Dr. Bonny Henry’s announcements. The pandemic is something that we are all learning to work through.

What motivates you in your work? 

When I first started at Narcity, I was motivated by being able to share my corner of the world with the Narcity audience – highlighting local towns and communities, getting people excited about local places! Now I find I am motivated by my love for mentoring and teaching other writers. When I started at Narcity, I was self-taught and teaching myself everything on the go. Now that I have a few writers beneath me, I want to be able to help others learn and grow.

What was your first Industry job?

My first media-related job came from an internship at Canada Wide Media. During this internship, I was able to work for BC living and Real Weddings Magazine. It was my first time in an office setting, publishing stories for an audience. It was my first real taste of media.

What are 2 things you wish you knew about your career before starting?

1) I wish I had a better appreciation for journalism before my career as one. People often undervalue Journalism even though it is critical to a healthy, flourishing democracy. People are turned off by ads and paywalls, but there’s no other funding for these outlets. I wish I had understood the time and work that goes into every story.

2) Don’t be so serious. I wish I had more fun before I started my career. My work is challenging and I am always leaning into the process, but I would have taken the time to enjoy myself earlier.

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

1) My audience is always my #1 priority. I am not going to fit a square peg into a round hole, there’s no time or energy for this. I like to think of it as the Narcity audience being my children and PR professionals being babysitters, handing in their applications. I am not going to accept any application – it has to be the best fit.

2) I’d like PR professionals to understand that a general press release is very impersonal and demotivating. I am not in the business of rewriting press releases, that’s not my job. If a PR professional can offer me an exclusive or embargo, it gives me something special and unique angle. I do not want general outreach.

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

I have a lot of people who are interested in what I do at Narcity. Many people think they want to be a writer, but only have experience writing occasionally. Working at Narcity is writing multiple articles a day, every single day. It takes a ton of hard work and dedication, you can not wish your way into this career. I worked my butt off – practicing writing, self-publishing, pitching, and pitching some more. You can’t wait around for someone to notice – you have to make it happen!