Happy first anniversary… to us

Jun 16, 2016 12.00PM |

by Abraham Lee




THE Middle Ground officially launched on June 15, 2015,  one year ago yesterday. This time last year, I had just ended my penultimate year at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and was about two weeks into my marketing internship at The Middle Ground. The renovation works at our office at Commonwealth had been delayed and so the team had to camp out at Botanic Gardens for our official website launch. Fortunately, Food For Thought had all three things that we required to churn out good work – good coffee, air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi – although my lower back later learnt that the tall stools were not for slouching.

I was the first intern to be brought on, and until more editorial interns were pulled in a week after our launch, I had to handle both our digital marketing efforts and the subediting of our articles. The first day was the craziest. Bertha had stockpiled articles for the launch and at some point, we were pushing one out every half an hour. That meant I had to subedit and format each article, and prepare to share it on TMG’s Facebook page within half an hour. I still remember yowling at Daniel when I couldn’t edit everything quickly enough and him pitching in while being equally busy himself.

For the most part, however, I shadowed Daniel. I joined the meeting with the creative agency handling our branding, I followed him to SingFirst’s pre-GE forum and under his guidance, learnt the ins and outs of using Wordpress, Facebook Ads and MailChimp, the platform on which we set up The Lunchtime Digest, TMG’s email subscription list. It was only when I took a digital marketing class at NTU that I realised that my internship had already taught me what the class was meant to teach and more. In fact, instead of the module helping me to become a better digital marketer, it was my summer internship with TMG that prepared me to do well for the class.

Another aspect of my internship was to do the bidding of my direct superior, making me Daniel’s go-to sai kang warrior. I will never forget the days we spent driving from one end of Singapore to another to collect pre-loved chairs, tables, bookcases, an office fridge we bought off Carousell and even a large sofa – one does not simply underestimate the brute strength of a father of six. We turned a dusty industrial office into a fully-functioning newsroom.

Before, an empty and dusty room, and after, a busy newsroom.
Before, an empty and dusty room, and after, a busy newsroom.

Admittedly, I, like many of my peers, had wished to intern at a large MNC – something that would look great on my CV. However, looking back, I wouldn’t give up my experience at TMG for an internship at a large firm. Unlike many of my friends, I did more than master the art of making coffee or writing minutes. Instead, I pitched ideas to the bosses, carried out ad campaigns on Facebook worth thousands of dollars and had my writing published to a large audience. Indeed, there’s nothing quite like an internship at a small start-up, simply because there’s too much to do and not enough people to go around.

In the past year, I’ve seen TMG grow its staff with the additions of the visual team, various generations of editorial interns and also the breadth of news covered with the incorporation of the lifestyle section. As hoped, the company burst into the online news scene during GE2015 and has since steadily grown its readership.

Though I had left the company for school, I remained on in the Facebook workgroup: Offering ideas, and pointing out typos in articles before readers could get to them. I’ve seen that each generation of interns has brought on different skills, thereby shaping how TMG has moved forward. Some have been proficient at coding, helping the backend team to fine-tune how we use WordPress and expanding the different ways we present stories, with various online tools. Others have been more dogged in their journalism, able to track down elusive pieces of information.

I was able to witness first-hand the progress TMG had made, at its relaunch event in February. The logo was upgraded and the website had finally become pleasing to the eye.

This month, everything came full circle and I returned to TMG as a Marketing Executive. In brief, I’ll be managing and optimising our distribution channels, like Facebook and other social media, to get our articles out to a greater audience. But unlike last year, I have a proper newsroom to work in, more people to talk to – and an awesome pantry.

Happy first anniversary to us, at TMG.


Featured image by Natassya Diana.

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