Lauren Lumsden, ’05, graduated with a degree in journalism and headed to New York for an editorial job, but instead found herself in PR pitching stories on doughnuts.
After about 10 months at a boutique PR agency, Lumsden realized she was jealous of the editors to whom she was pitching and quit her job to try for one in editorial. After being unemployed for three months, she heard about an opening at DailyCandy, a lifestyle and entertainment website she used to pitch stories to.
Five-and-a-half years later, Lumsden is still at DailyCandy, which she describes as “an insider’s guide to the latest and greatest in fashion, food, and fun.” The site, DailyCandy.com, sends out free daily emails in 13 cities, plus a national edition. Lumsden, an editor who focuses on the site’s video content, has seen DailyCandy grow from 30 employees to 130.
Lumsden produces all of DailyCandy’s videos, from coming up with the initial idea to writing all the copy around it before it’s published. She also helps with on-air appearances on morning shows, from VH1 to The Today Show, to talk about trends the DailyCandy editors are seeing. She recently did segments on “The Top Five Places to Find Unique Gifts in New York” for NY1 and “Things to Do When It’s Cold Outside” for VH1.
“It’s a great job, if I do say so myself,” Lumsden said. “My job has afforded me some amazing opportunities. Through producing DailyCandy’s videos and occasionally appearing on TV shows for us, I’ve been able to meet and pick the brains of some incredible, brilliant people.”
Those “incredible, brilliant people” include The Office’s Mindy Kaling, singer and pianist Regina Spektor, designer Isaac Mizrahi, author Jonathan Safran Foer, British model and TV host Alexa Chung and “Millionaire Matchmaker” Patti Stanger.
But not everyone Lumsden interviews is rich and famous. She said some of her favorite experiences involve the little-known entrepreneurs.
“DailyCandy prides itself on discovering the next big thing,” she said, “so it’s truly wonderful when you can find people doing something cool, write about them, see them get the attention they deserve, and then sit back and watch them flourish.
“…A few years ago, a young business owner told me that my article on him made his going back to business school all worth it, and—to me—that was one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received professionally.”
Lumsden considers her job a “dream job,” and credits her journalism classes at Richmond for helping her snag it. With everything at DailyCandy publishing digitally, turnaround time is quick, which leaves little room for error.
Work has to be polished from the first draft, something she learned from UR professors Mike Spear, Tom Mullen, and Steve Nash. She recalled turning in her first story as an editorial assistant and flooring her editor by how clean her copy was.
“To this day, I always carry an imaginary Professor Mike Spear over my shoulder and imagine him saying, ‘Lauren, if you put a dangling modifier on that sentence I’m going to be very disappointed in you’ or ‘If you misspell someone’s name you’re out of here,’” she said.
Lumsden also took a documentary film class her senior year, which she said proved invaluable when trying to get DailyCandy’s video initiative off the ground about three years ago. The basic production skills she learned—from how to interview someone on camera to editing techniques—directly applied to her job today.
Like Lumsden, not everyone with a journalism degree winds up at a newspaper. But she’s a “firm believer that if you can write well and think analytically, you’ve got a solid foundation for almost any field.”
Journalism wasn’t the only thing from UR to stick with her, either.
“I think being well-rounded and passionate about things outside of your job—especially when you’re in a journalism-related field—will make you much better at your job and happier in general,” she said.
“I can’t tell you how many times my own personal interests, such as those gleaned from my involvement with Women Involved in Living and Learning and WDCE campus radio, have led me to a great DailyCandy story—or, at the very least, helped me establish a better rapport with someone I’m interviewing.”