Sawhorse Media Field Trip: Inside Muck Rack and The Shorty Awards
By Dan Denning
On Tuesday, March 28th, Newhouse NYC students in Professor Ariana Finlayson’s social media class took a trip to Sawhorse Media, a tech company with two different facets. Not only is it in charge of Muck Rack, software that helps journalists and public relations practitioners, but it also runs The Shorty Awards, the popular award show that honors all parts of the social media world.
Natan Edelsburg, the Executive Vice President of both the Shorty Awards and Muck Rack, showed the class the office and treated us to delicious pizza from Bleecker Street Pizza before his presentation.
The Shorty Awards
The first thing Natan spoke about was his work with the Shorty Awards. When the event first started, it wasn’t meant to be such a big deal. However, an award show dedicated to social media didn’t exist in the late 2000s. The awards gained an enormous amount of press coverage and was quickly dubbed “The Oscars of Social Media.”
In the beginning, all nominees were appointed by fans, and winners were chosen by fan votes. This was a problem because there were a lot of unfair winners, such as celebrities like Justin Bieber winning science categories. As a result, the company created an algorithm that takes into account many different factors to determine who wins each award.
One of the most interesting aspects of the event is how it gets funded. Sawhorse opened up The Shorty Awards to brands, allowing them to pay to participate in special categories against other brands. There are even awards for brand partnerships, meaning the best combinations of brands and social media influencers. This has created a really cool platform for brands to showcase their campaigns and attract young people who are interested in these awards.
Sawhorse makes most of its money from Muck Rack, a program that keeps track of journalists and what articles they have written. It is very helpful to public relations professionals because not only does it help them keep track of articles written about their clients and how many shares the articles have received, it also helps them identify journalists who cover specific topics. The program gives PR people the journalists’ contact information, so it’s extremely helpful for creating media lists. On the other hand, it is helpful for journalists because it creates a profile for them that keeps all of their work in one place. Since so many Newhouse students want to work in journalism and public relations, this is a useful program to know about.
Advice for Newhouse students
On securing a job after graduation, Natan’s three biggest pieces of advice are customizing your resume for every single job you apply for, creating clear subject lines for all emails you send, and always being persistent and following up.
Natan also shared his point of view on working at a tech company like Sawhorse. He loves the laid back vibe of tech companies. There are unlimited vacation days, the ability to work from home, and the flexibility to come in whenever you want. However, with this much freedom, you have to be on top of your work.
The biggest reason he loves the environment is because he is always at the center of innovation: “I don’t know what our company will be doing in a year or two, and that’s why I love coming to work every day.”