The horticultural media encompasses print and electronic publishing, plus the broadcast media. Media professionals may create, package or deliver information in books, magazines, on web sites, TV or radio shows or even in advertising.
Scope of Work
There are three main areas of media: print, broadcast and electronic. There is some overlap, and often horticulture professionals can work in all three and perhaps other areas as well. A nurseryman or consultant for instance may only work part time on the media, perhaps writing magazine articles or presenting on a weekly radio show. Some who work in the media may receive minimal income from their media work; but that work may be a significant way of promoting their services and sustaining other work, perhaps as a consultant.
There are more opportunities today than ever to work in electronic media, self-publishing e-books, apps, online newsletters or blogs. Commercial horticulture businesses employ media professionals to write and publish for them too (social media, advertising material, web content). Marketing companies also employ media people.
Garden radio careers often begin with work on regional or niche radio stations, which can eventually progress to relatively well-paid work in mainstream media for anyone who excels. Writing books for print media is often not as profitable as one might hope; but for books that sell well, they can be profitable. Often writing books can be a valuable way of raising your media profile.
For those in the media who are known by the public; regular income can be derived from public speaking: giving talks at garden shows, product launches and other events.
What You Need to Learn
All horticultural media work requires you to have two things:
- Sufficient knowledge of horticulture to be of interest to your audience
- Communication skills
Start by Learning:
- Plant knowledge - ability to identify and discuss at length a large number of different plant genera, species and cultivars
- Plant science - botany basics; plant biology, anatomy, physiology, anatomy, ecology
- Plant health management - soil health, nutrition, pests, diseases, drainage, irrigation
- Horticulture practices - pruning, planting, watering, feeding
- Garden design - principles of garden design, garden styles, garden features & components
- Media studies - writing and editing can be critical; IT skills and photography, speaking and even acting and video production can be useful, communication skills
Starting a Career
Most horticultural media people start out working in horticulture without the intention of working in the media; but as opportunities arise and an ability to communicate develops, they naturally progress into work in the media. These people may begin as garden labourers or in retail outlets like garden centres and public nurseries. If media is ever going to be a realistic proposition, it is important for employees to absorb knowledge continually as they work.
Others start their careers with every intention of working in the media, often studying writing, journalism, photography and/or film; then because of an interest in gardening or gardens, opportunities arise a career evolves toward the horticultural media.
For those who plan and steer their career development towards horticultural media, the best way to learn is by starting with a study of fundamental plant taxonomy to build up plant knowledge. A successful media professional continues building on that start, and never stops expanding their plant knowledge. Most add to that knowledge by developing awareness of gardening principles and practices and then move on to learning about garden design and landscaping.
Progressing a Career
Like other fields, in media you will learn through experience as you work in the industry. Every problem or challenge you confront can be a new learning experience.
Challenges sometimes reveal deficiencies in your knowledge. If that happens, you may see something you need to learn, by doing research or studying a course. The person who responds positively to such challenges, and sees them as opportunities for career advancement, will progress.
If there are aspects of the list above (what you need to learn) which are deficient then ongoing study is advised to fill those gaps.
Networking within your industry is critical to not only learning more; but also getting new opportunities. Everyone working in horticulture media should become active in an appropriate trade or professional association.
Professional development is also important. Science, products, equipment and techniques are constantly changing and improving in this as well as every other industry. If you are disconnected from industry change, you will not remain competitive with others who are up to date. This is another reason you should remain involved with a professional or trade organisation.
Diversifying your learning and experience is a natural, and often very successful, way of helping your career to progress. This could involve doing additional study in order to broaden the services you can offer; or deepen the quality of service you offer. It may also allow you to cross over into other related career paths; perhaps moving from providing written articles or garden books to hosting a live gardening show on the radio or appearing on a radio show as an expert.
Since there can be changes in the popularity of different forms of media or media content, those working in this field with a broader range of knowledge and skills may be able to cross over from one sector to another to take advantage of new trends or easily transition to a different form of media.
Some may begin in a fairly narrow sector like writing a column for a weekly newspaper but through study and experience are able to spread their career over many different sectors of horticulture media or other related industries.