Media Dietitian And Freelance Opportunities

Published on: 09/20/2022
Media Dietitian

Today I sit down with Media Dietitian Amy Groin, MS RDN. Hit the play button below to start the interview!

Season 3 Episode 38: Media Dietitian & Freelance Opportunities ft. Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

We NEED more Media Dietitians! If you are ready to step up to the plate, this episode is perfect for you. 

Tune in if you: 

  • Want to provide nutrition education to the masses
  • Want to be viewed as an expert with influence (NOT the same thing as an influencer) 
  • Love exciting new projects 
  • Dream of working with brands 

Amy Gorin is a New York based RD and a renowned media dietitian. You can reach Amy here: 

Website – Master the Media and Plant Based With Amy
Instagram –  Master the Media and Amy D Gorin 
Youtube – Plant Based With Amy

Did you miss last week’s episode? You can tune in here: Dietitian UGC Creator

Full Transcript

Julia: 1:17

Welcome to the show, Amy. It’s so great to have you here. Did you wanna say hi to the listeners?

Amy: 1:22

Hi, everybody. I’m so happy to be here with you.

Julia: 1:25

Yay. I was just telling Amy that I was feeling a little bit starstruck seeing her one on one, and I’m so excited to get her on the podcast. She has such a diverse background, and I’m wondering Amy, actually, if you wanna give a couple details about your trajectory as an RD and what you’ve been up to.Amy: 1:40

Yeah, absolutely. So one, um, I don’t know if it’s a little new in fact, but one thing people don’t know usually know about me is I used to be a magazine editor before I became a dietitian. So my first career and I did the whole journalism, undergrad journalism, grad school thing. And I, um, I worked at health and prevention and weight Watchers and American baby and parents magazine as an editor.

And from pretty much like day one, I was working in the nutrition department of those publications and I was thinking, you know, I wanna know more about nutrition and not have it take me two hours to understand a really complicated study. So I started thinking about going back to school and I am so glad I did it because combining media and dietetics has been such a blast.

Julia: 2:23

Yeah. That’s really great to hear. I so often am. Surprised and I shouldn’t be surprised at this point, how many RDS actually did go to school for journalism or English, like if they’re in freelance writing or different media work. So that makes a lot of sense. How was journalism school? I’ve always been curious about it.

Amy: 2:40

It was really fun. Um, and so I went, you know, I I’m gonna date myself here, but I went to school back when like magazines were, I literally had a concentration in magazines, both in undergrad and grad school. And I was. In love with the process of, you know, back in those days, you would spend hours and days and weeks, like just making the magazine is called the book and you’d spend all this time making it super pretty and focusing on the design and like, oh, I have to cut three words to make this fit. And now it’s just a totally different ball game, but I think it’s really fun the way that journalism has Evolv.

Julia: 3:14

Yeah, I’m totally thinking of 13 going on 30 when she gets to grow up and be the magazine editor. Yeah. Oh my gosh. Thinking about journalism and then going more scientific, how was that transition for you pursuing your dietetics degree?

Amy: 3:28

Yeah, I think that’s a good question because honestly, I spent my whole undergrad career and graduate school career, avoiding science. Like I took in college. I took a class called planned plagues and people and another one called molds mildews mushrooms and man, and it was like the most basic class. Another one called insects, where we grew, grew a butterfly, you get the gist.

And, I avoided chemistry. And then when I had to take all those, I basically got another bachelor’s degree because I hadn’t taken any science classes that counted, but I found it really difficult. You know, to take these organic chemistry classes and biochemistry. Um, but I found that having the reason of why I was doing it, like taking chemistry and then the next day opening up a study and seeing the organic chemistry start in the chart in the middle of the study and saying, okay, I actually understand this was little. It was literally like, okay, this is why I’m doing this.

Julia: 4:21

Yes. Like a tangible win check mark. You did it. You made it. Yeah. It’s hard. It’s a big jump. And. Obviously, I know you as a media dietitian, and I think some listeners maybe have heard of a media dietitian before, but some haven’t. Could you define that?

Amy: 4:36

Yeah, totally. So media dietitian is literally just a dietitian working in the media and that can, like you said, that can mean so many things. Um, it can be somebody who authors freelance articles for websites who creates content behind the scenes. You know, a lot of, I know a lot of dietitians who freelance. um, they do it as ghostwriters. It can be screening videos for, you know, you, you have your own YouTube channel or TikTok channel.

And the most lucrative part of it is working with brands and being a spokesperson or a brand ambassador, you know, it’s called many different terms. It’s kind of synonymous with an expert with influence. We’re not actual influencers because an influencer has influence without having those credentials behind their names. And we as dietitians have those credentials behind our names. And even if we have 200 followers on Instagram, we’re still an expert with influence.Julia: 5:23

Yes. That was such a great definition. And something I wanted to ask you, cuz I think a lot of RDS are working with brands now, which I think is awesome. It’s about time. We need more experts talking the real facts out there. How would you recommend RDS navigate the ethical of not necessarily endorsing a product, but still, you know, working with the brand to promote the good parts of it. There’s a big gray area. Do you have any?Amy: 5:47

Yeah, I mean, I think that there’s a few different things to consider. Number one is just that initial decision of deciding to work with the brand in the first place. Mm-hmm because it might, you might think, wow, this brand’s offering me a lot of money. I have to take this, but I will tell, I will tell you I’ve turned on probably over a hundred thousand dollars in partnership dollars with brands.

I just, I don’t align with their either ingredients or philosophy or the way that they’re marketing their products. And, you know, I always. I always just say, listen to your gut because it speaks the loudest. And if I ever, if you’re ever like hesitating a little bit, stop and think about why, um, you know, for me certain ingredients, I just, I haven’t ever worked with a brand that has, Sucralose in it and. That’s a sticking point for me.

Julia: 6:32

Yeah.

Amy: 6:33

You could say I can’t be bought, but unless I see science that really changes my mind tomorrow I’m gonna stick with that.

Julia: 6:38

Mm-hmm

Amy: 6:39

So that’s step one is just, you know, aligning with the brand. And then also like there’s red flags sometimes, a brand might say like, you know, one of the biggest red flags these days is if you’re contacted about writing a sponsored blog post on your blog and the brand will. Just confirming all links are do follow. And if you are a blogger, you know, that’s a big Nono because if you’re getting paid in any way for that content to be produced, you have to do, what’s called no follow links or Google will put you in, what’s called Google jail and your website might tank.

Um, so that’s what I always consider, like, okay, that’s a red flag. Let me just like check. Do they not know what they’re talking about? Or are they trying to be shady? You know? Yes. Yeah. If they’re shady, that’s not a brand I wanna be involved with. And the last thing when you do decide to work with a brand and you’re in that partnership is making sure you are as transparent as possible to your followers. If there’s ever a question of, should I disclose this? The answer’s probably yes. You can’t really over disclose. You can only under disclose and then have people be like, Hmm, that’s weird. She was recommending this product. And then I found out the, the next week that she’s getting paid by them. And now I feel weird about, yes. You know, you don’t want anyone to say that about you.

Julia: 7:51

Yeah. Great points. So I might have jumped ahead there a little bit. I was just excited and I, you know, I just was so keen to ask you that question, cuz I think it’s a barrier for RDS, but it doesn’t have to be, you just have to set your boundaries and it can be fluid as you evolve and mature. It sounds like, but certain points will probably always be. I have my hard no’s and I probably won’t move from those too.

Amy: 8:12

Exactly. And you’re not gonna feel good about yourself if you do.

Julia: 8:16

Yeah. Don’t cave. Yeah. Good advice. And maybe we can be a little bit more specific now, just nailing out what specific media opportunities you have seen available for RDS in the past year. I’d also love to hear what was available five years ago compared to now.

Amy: 8:31

It’s funny. I was talking with a media coaching client this morning and we were talking about Facebook lives and I was like, let’s put this on your services sheet, but like it’s not as big a thing as it was, you know, five years ago.

Right. Um, so yeah, so there are so many opportunities that are available. And the great thing is if you wanna be a media dietitian, I think a lot of people assume I have to love all of these things. And that is absolutely not true. You just have to enjoy at least one of them really. So there are opportunities, both. In front of the scenes and behind the scenes.

So I’m gonna first talk about the behind the scenes, because I think a lot of people who maybe just don’t wanna put themselves out there in that way on social media, and there’s no reason that you have to. You can work with a brand as a nutrition consultant. You can, you know, help them. So maybe take a look at their ingredients and could they be doing anything better or, you know, I’ve been hired to create messaging points about the nutritional aspects of a food that the brand uses in its marketing, but it’s not tied to my name. You can create presentations, like webinars that a brand uses to educate its own staff, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t go anywhere beyond the company itself.

The cool thing is when you become a media trained dietitian, you can also offer media consulting as well. So I consult my clients sometimes with creating pitches that they’ll send out to the media and coming up with target media to pitch to and things like that. When you’re in front of the scenes, you can do so many things you can be hired to do.

Both for magazines and for websites and for TV and podcast and radio. You can do, what’s called a satellite media tour, which is a whole day of broadcast. You can create videos for YouTube and TikTok and Instagram reels and things like that. There’s so much you can do on social media these days from. Videos to static posts and stories to Instagram takeovers to lives. And, you know, the list goes on and on.

One of my favorite things to do for our brand is to host a media event. So sometimes it’s a whole day of media, or sometimes it’s just a couple hours and that could be in person or virtual. And that’s, that’s one of those things that has changed over time is there’s so many more virtual opportunities, which is amazing. I have a TV segment airing today on NBC and I filmed it virtually, but the segment’s airing in California. You could be hired to work at a booth at one of the nutrition conferences, like, you know, fencing where you’re talking about the product to D other dietitians, um, you could host webinars. I’m gonna kinda stop there cause that’s a lot

Julia: 10:56

That was so helpful. I have one specific question for you. So when you say you could host the all day media event, what exactly is that? What happens all day?

Amy: 11:03

A media event is where you are hired as the talent to talk about the brand’s product to media and media can mean traditional media, where you have reporters from, you know, food network and eat this, not that in places like that, or it could be influencers or it could be a combination of both. And sometimes when it, when it’s an all day event, it’s really like, Two different events in the same day.

So the brand will pay you, you know, your, your day fee. Um, and you’ll have one event that’s targeted towards this audience. One event that’s targeted towards that audience, or what’s also done, and this is becoming a little bit less popular in recent years, but, you can do what’s called desk sides. And in the old days of media, this was literally the brand would come to your desk when you’re an editor and talk about the brand to you.

And so then when things became different in the last few years, you know, I’ve done these for brands where we have a whole day of zoom meetings with editors and reporters. You’re doing back to back interviews about the same product, but you’re having those really intimate conversations. So it just feels a little bit, you know, like the reporter might like that or the editor might like that because you’re getting that one on one time.

Julia: 12:13

And so do you prefer, like if you had to. Only back end stuff or front end stuff. What would you choose?

Amy: 12:20

Oh, I really love both. Don’t make me choose. Yeah. well, I, I love when the two are combined. Mm-hmm um, so like, I’ll give you an example of a project. I worked on where, I worked for, um, pan express. Um, this is a couple years back and year one of us working together. They hired me as a consultant behind the scenes and they were like We wanna make all of these healthy changes to our food. Can you help us?

And so I wrote them a 72 page memo of all the things that they had asked me about and how we were actually gonna implement it. And the science behind those changes of like, you know, reducing sodium and reducing added sugar and things like that. So then they actually, they were amazing to work with. You know, they wanted to implement these things and they created a five year plan. And so year two of us working together was me being their spokesperson, talking about this plan of making all these healthy changes. I mean, truly it was so much fun.

Julia: 13:20

Yeah, absolutely. And do you like also those longer end projects because you do get so involved and you get to see the finished product and you just feel like more rewarded from it?

Amy: 13:29

I do. I love having long term relationships with brand clients because, you know, I can really learn all of their messaging and their values and help them strateg. You know, to meet their goals? Not to say like the one off projects, like they, they come and they’re, they’re fun, but then they’re over really fast.Julia: 13:45

Do you remember your first major contract after you became an RD and secured it with your new credentials?

Amy: 13:51

Yeah. I’m gonna give you two answers because my, like my literal first project ever, I was. An RD for, I think, a month and tribe hummus hired me to do a radio interview on their behalf. And I was so excited to be just hired as a dietitian, you know, working in the media. And I actually like took a picture of my check and, you know, it was like one of those, I was so tempted to like frame this check and not cash it cuz fact back then, I don’t think there were digital. Situations. But my first big partnership, um, I think it was with Mona.

Um, so this was a cottage cheese company that unfortunately went out of business and sometimes that happens and it’s heartbreaking, like you work with a brand and you love it. And I love this product. It was like cottage cheese that had fruit mixed. Um, and it, it was just delicious. They ended up going away, unfortunately, but it was really fun. We had this partnership and we did, um, I, I just love it when there’s like all these different deliverables.

So we did Facebook lives. This was like, I’m dating myself again, cuz like that was the big thing back then. And um, a lot of media and. Press releases and like quotes and tips for me and press releases and things like that. It was really fun.

Julia: 14:58

That is so fun. What an epic way to just run out the gate and get awesome experiences. And now I wanna try it because I do love cottage cheese. I feel like it’s a very divisive food, but I’m pro cottage cheese.

Amy: 15:09

I know, I think the closest replication I can come up with in my head is like, if you take frozen cherries and you reduce them down on the stove top and add them to your cottage cheese, I think that would sort of replicate it.

Julia: 15:20

Love that it sounds like a healthy cheesecake or something. Right, exactly. Yes, totally. And. I wanted to ask you a little bit more in detail the checkpoints that happen when you are onboarding a new client.

Amy: 15:32

So, we’ve already talked about screening, so that step one is just making sure your values align. And sometimes, it comes down to their messaging.

If they’re like, you know, let’s say it was a product with a little bit of added sugar and. They want you to like scream to the rooftops, like how amazing added sugar is. Like, maybe that’s not, you know, like, you know, that’s probably a little silly of an example, but you get my point.

Um, so let’s say you’ve aligned on everything, including what the deliverables are and what your fee is going to be. So then the most important thing before you do any work is having a signed a countersigned, which means you sign it and the other person signs it contract. And this terrifies a lot of people. Cause you’re like what I have to like do all this legal stuff. Right. But I promise you, if you do it 10 times, you’ll be like, okay, I, I get the hang of this and now I know what I’m doing. Um, but it’s scary in the beginning because you have to protect yourself.

I’m gonna throw around a lot of terms now, but you have to protect yourself against how the brand is using your name, which is called name and likeness, you know, do they have the right to splash you on their homepage? or maybe they’re not paying you for that and they should be, and, or that should be just removed from the contract. There’s also exclusivity. If the brand is asking you to not work with any competitors, you know, that’s something you should be compensated for.

So sometimes these are just things that kind of slip into a contract that you have to remove. Um, and then negotiation phase, then there’s things like that are more simple. Like, you know, if you are, if you have a corporation and you’re not a sole proprietor, are you listed, you know, Like, are you listed in the contract as your business name and is that where the check is going? And the answer should be, that’s how it should be instead of because that places less liability on you as a person. Right.

Then there’s like things like payment schedules. If we’re talking, you know, Your project is $10,000. You’re probably gonna wanna get at least 25 to 50% of that upfront and you’re kind of just like work out that payment schedule with them. So there’s all of these things that you kind of have to look out for. It usually takes a few back and forths, like two to three on average.

The first few times I did this, honestly, I hired a lawyer because I need to understand what I’m doing. And I thought by working with a lawyer a few times, I’d understand it to the point where I could then be in control of it, which is. That is how it worked out and only had to invest for a certain amount of time. I actually would recommend just, you have to find a lawyer in your area, um, who specializes in contract law, but I, I would recommend that for the first few contracts.

Julia: 18:05

Yeah. That’s really great advice. We stay in our lanes and we seek help when we need it. Right.Amy: 

18:10

That’s I just that’s like a common thing. Like I used to think like way back. I can do everything. And I was like, Nope, I’m gonna hire a designer. I’m gonna hire a lawyer, hire, you know, a CPA

Julia: 18:21

Yes, absolutely. And you know, that actually inspired me to ask you a random question here, cuz you’re so business savvy and I hear it in your language and I’m wondering did you pursue specific business courses to get more savvy? Is it through experience? Like how did you get here?

Amy: 18:35

honestly it’s experience. Like, I wish they taught you some of this in school. Yeah. I didn’t take a single class on anything that I just said. And really a lot of it was like, From day one, I was really fortunate to have a mentor who I would call her every week and be like, what does this mean? What do I do about this? And I think if that’s something that you have in your bandwidth to reach out to somebody who could potentially mentor you. Or join a mentorship program. It can really go a huge way because these are not skills that we’re taught in dietetic school.

Julia: 19:07

That’s such a good point. I wish entrepreneurship was taken more seriously for all healthcare providers, cuz we have such marketable skills.

Amy: 19:16

I think we’re getting there, but it’s so slow.

Julia: 19:18

Yeah. Yes. Yeah. You’re right. And I wanted to ask you, what do you think based on your experiences is the most lucrative form of media work that you’re seeing right now?

Amy: 19:28

Yeah, I think that’s a great question. I think there’s a few different answers. So one of my favorite things to do. And it pays well is hosting events and doing keynote lectures and things like that on behalf of brands, but also video work these days, like that is hot in that you can charge, you know, because like, think about how long a video takes to create. Like, it can take 10 hours to create. You know, a one minute video and that, you know, the compensation is, is good for that. Um, and so those are so hot, you know, on Instagram and TikTok and YouTube shorts even, um, that, yeah, that’s, that’s a fun one.

Julia: 20:07

I think video is it’s already here, but it’s not slowing down. If anything, it’s just blowing up even more.

Amy: 20:13

Yeah. And it was honestly like, I, I’m always embarrassed to say, I am a late adopter. I am always like, oh, that’s a new technology thing. I don’t wanna learn it. And I did that with video and I made myself learn it in the last year. And I’m so glad I did because it’s so fun.

Julia: 20:28

Yes, absolutely. Nice. And I wanted to ask you also, um, kind of a polarizing question in the freelance community. Everyone has a different answer. Do you do payment upfront or payment after the contract’s.

Amy: 20:43

That is a great question. Um, so I, I always like to do 50% upfront. Um, but I’m gonna give you a caveat in a minute. I’m talking here about brand partnership work. If it’s a large amount of money, let’s say $60,000, then the brand might wanna do like three or four payments where, you know, the first payment is 25 or 30%, but, The one caveat is with writing and things like that. It’s just, you’re gonna get paid on delivery. And that’s kind of how the industry standard is for writing.

Julia: 21:14

I love to ask people that question, cuz I get such different answers.

Amy: 21:17

It’s good to have that money flow because then you can say, okay, I’m gonna get this amount. Point, and, and you can know what to expect.

Julia: 21:24

I would love to hear if you have any pitching tips. Cuz we’re talking a lot about video, I’m wondering, do you have any pitching tips for securing like video work with a brand?

Amy: 21:33

Yeah. So when you’re pitching, and I’m gonna give you some pointers that would work for, you know, any kind of brand spokesperson work. This is something, in the master of the media program that I run. We really hold our students hands, because like, this is one of those, like, Okay. That’s a little bit scary, right. To pitch and to, to make sure that you’re doing it right.

Step one is really making sure you’re talking to the right person. So you can come up with the most brilliant pitch and it can be perfectly worded, but you send it to a generic email box or the wrong person. And it’s just not gonna get looked at. So the tricky thing these days is of course, like I think a lot of people communicate through Instagram DMS, and that works to a point like you can. The person you’re talking to on social media though, they, they might only run that one channel or they might only run the social media and they might not run all the partnerships for the brand.

So what I always recommend is going to the brand’s website and seeing, is there a contact, you know, for media work, um, a lot of times they’ll point you towards the PR firm that they hire for that, and that’s where you wanna target your pitch too.

The second part is like, you wanna make sure that you’re giving some. Like you want it to be short and sweet. You want it to introduce yourself? I always recommend giving a few bullet points of how you can work together. So if you’re pitching just video, you know, it could be like, here’s a couple of different ideas for how, you know, we could work together in video.

But I would say I actually wouldn’t probably write a pitch that was just video, unless I saw that’s like, All the brand is focusing on because you wanna pitch something. That’s okay. Like, let’s talk about how we can work together and let’s do some video. Let’s do some, you know, Instagram, infographics. Let’s do like, you can talk about all those different ways. And then you wanna kind of just make sure it’s like, not too much. And so I think a lot of people think like they provide so much extra information and that’s great, but that might scare the person off and they might not wanna read it.

So I think just like put it in an email, don’t put it as an attachment of any kind, like bullet it, make it really easy to read. And then following up is the other thing, a lot of people are like, oh, I didn’t hear it back in two weeks. What do I do? I would wait four to six weeks before you follow up. I’m gonna give you an example of when I was a magazine editor, but when I would receive pitches from freelance writers, they would sit in my inbox for at least a month before I looked at them, because there was just so much going on. Just wait until you know that it was actually red.

Julia: 23:57

Nice. Those were so practical and so straightforward. Thank you for sharing that.

Amy: 24:01

My pleasure.

Julia: 24:03

And I wanted to ask you just a couple more questions here. I mean, you’ve had. A diverse, already experience so far. And I love it. I’m an a, I’ve been following your social media for, at least during the pandemic, if not before as well. What do you think the future of dietetics looks like?

Amy: 24:19

Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And I really think we have so many opportunities at our fingertips. There’s so many opportunities to communicate on a mass level, which is what I love about media. It’s no longer, obviously they’re still seeing patients one on one and that’s very important, but I think even those practitioners have the ability to use that patient experience, to communicate on a broader level, you know, say, oh, I saw this patient today and they had this question and I thought it was a really great question. And then jump onto TikTok or jump onto Instagram reels to tell everybody. That same issue so that everybody knows

Julia: 24:52

yes. Furthering the reach. It makes it so much easier cuz when you see patients all day, sometimes you also don’t have energy but making a 32nd clip or something is so accessible. So it is opening like so many doors.

Amy: 25:03

It totally is. And those are the things that are going viral. Like I, I did an interview for well and good the other day. The interview was about this doctor’s TikTok video. It was literally, you could tell, he was like still in his scrubs, he was probably on his lunch break or something. And his video went viral and then, well, and good wrote an article about it. I mean, this is what’s happening. If you have something really clever to say it can go viral.

Julia: 25:25

Yes. Yeah. And it’s so easy. You don’t need a whole production, right?

Amy: 25:28

Exactly. You just need. And captions on and that’s it.

Julia: 25:31

Thank you so much, Amy. I really appreciate you coming on sharing this info. Did you have any last words for the audience? Do you wanna tell them more about your program?

Amy: 25:40

Yeah, so I run the master, the media coaching program, and it’s really, it started as a passion project because I had dietitians coming to me and asking media questions and I was like, you know what? This should be a program. People should know how to do. so the program just goes literally through 12 modules and it goes through how to become a media, dietitian and expert with influence how to reach out to media to be featured, and then how to. Use that as like a springboard to get those high paid six figures brand partnerships, how to get those speaking engagements.

If you want more private practice clients or group coaching clients, like whatever your goals are, being in the media helps you achieve that. So if you are interested, go check it out. Master the media.co back slash course. We also have a free bootcamp that you can enroll in just to see, just to get a little bit of a taste of the program.

Julia: 26:26

I will link that in the show notes for listeners to check it out. Amy, is it okay if listeners reach out to you? I think a lot of them will want to.

Amy: 26:34

Yeah, absolutely. Yes. If you have questions, email me, DM me. Um, I’d love to chat with you. And, um, oh, I forgot to mention also that the coaching program provides 65 continuing ed credits. So that’s really fun. But yeah, I love talking to other dietitians and I think we should all be working together as a community to help each other, so definitely reach out.

Julia: 26:54

That’s awesome. Thank you so much.

Amy: 26:56

Yes. Thank you so much for having me.

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Julia Zakrzewski is the host of the Freelance Dietitian Podcast. She is a clinical dietitian turned freelance writer and now she can’t stop talking about freelancing!

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