When American Underground recently shut down startup news site ExitEvent, veteran journalist Laura Baverman wasted no time in finding a new opportunity. A different kind of deadline – career change – but one she surmounted in short order.

“While I had several journalism job opportunities over the last couple months, I kept feeling like I had a lot more to learn about marketing and branding,” she says.

“I also craved a larger team and experienced mentors. I wanted a new challenge.”

Baverman is just starting as Director of Communications at fast-growing B2B startup Pendo.

American Underground and WRAL TechWire are both owned by Capitol Broadcasting. During her tenure at ExitEvent, Baverman and The Skinny worked together as partners – and sometimes competitors. Yes, there were challenges, but those were resolved. We were partners and rivals. An interesting mix, to say the least.

Bottom line: Baverman’s byline showed up often in TechWire, and her skills in recruiting as well as editing will be further demonstrated in WRAL TechWire going forward since several of the reporters with whom she worked are already contributing to WTW. (Thank you, Laura.) Also, for you ExitEvent readers, all EE stories are being transferred as I write to WRAL TechWire’s archive and will be available when WTW’s new site debuts.

Delivering in clutch

One anecdote The Skinny is glad to share is a testament to Baverman’s journalistic passion. When The Skinny couldn’t make a trip to New York to witness Bandwidth.com’s IPO – a great story, a Triangle-born bare bones, bootstrapped startup soaring to the lighting up of the Big Apple and NASDAQ, a story we somehow had to cover and left scrambling to find a solution – Baverman said she would go.

Ever the pro, Baverman wrote a splendid article on the plane back from NYC and just ahead of a trip that took her family on a trip to Central America. She could have declined the NYC assignment. She said “Yes” and delivered in the clutch. (Thank you, again, Laura.)

Now, on to the rest of the story.

‘A new way to apply my knowledge’

In a Q&A, she shares with WRAL TechWire her thoughts about ExitEvent and going to work for the “dark side.”

Why have you decided to move into a media relations/corporate role rather than continue to work in journalism? Was this a difficult choice?

This is a tough one. In some ways yes, because I dreamed of being a journalist when I was in high school. I followed all the steps through college and after graduation to build a career for myself in journalism and then worked my butt off for years to develop a good reputation and become an expert at my craft. It’s hard to move on to less familiar territory after pouring so much of my time and effort into something.

At the same time, I’m a person who loves collecting new experiences. ExitEvent was an experience in leading and organizing a team, developing and executing a strategy and building a brand. It let me use all of my journalism skills and build on them significantly. While I had several journalism job opportunities over the last couple months, I kept feeling like I had a lot more to learn about marketing and branding. I also craved a larger team and experienced mentors. I wanted a new challenge.

Finally, I’m only 35 years old. I don’t see this as a career change as much as a new way to apply my knowledge, relationships and experience. I’ll always be a journalist at heart and I expect I’ll still do journalism at some point in my working life.

What key lessons have you learned as a reporter that you can best apply to working on the “other side of the hill”?

I appreciate you not calling this the dark side.

Reporters are naturally curious, discerning and skeptical. We can sift through B.S. We can uncover the stories that the founders of companies themselves haven’t considered being so embedded in their company or product. Pendo could have easily hired a PR person, but I know they liked that I brought an outside perspective to the Pendo story and the industry. I hope it makes us better at communicating to customers and the broader public about the importance of building great technology products that people actually use.

The other big learning that I know will help me here is the importance of relationships. I’m decent at reporting and writing, but I couldn’t have done my job the last 13 years without building strong relationships with people. Getting to know them well enough to hear about their family, work history, struggles and passions. All of that will be critical as I forge relationships with our team here at Pendo, reporters, customers and others.

I also know all too well the PR tactics that annoy reporters most, and how to avoid those things.

What excites you about working with Pendo?

I have to be honest here that I would work for few B2B software companies. I’m just not that passionate about that particular field. But I have to give Todd Olson credit here. From his earliest days building Pendo, he explained the vision and mission of the company in a way that I could understand and get behind. Who doesn’t want technology to serve our needs better?

As I chatted with him and our new CMO [chief marketing officer] Jake Sorofman, I loved that they are planning an editorial approach to marketing and PR—more storytelling, less jargon. Jake spent five years at Gartner, an organization I highly respect. Both he and Todd are transparent and super humble, open to feedback and ideas, willing to share theirs in a constructive way. I sense those qualities throughout the company.

I also see so much potential. Pendo’s customers love the product…it literally changes the way they work. And our customers’ customers are happy because they are involved in the evolution of the technology tools they use every day. There are hundreds of stories to tell within the customer base. There are engaged and connected investors to meet and tap into. And there are national reporters, bloggers and podcasters who have yet to hear about this really cool, category leading company in Raleigh. I have a ton to do…I’m excited about all of it.

What were you most proud of in terms of accomplishments during your three years as editor of ExitEvent?

I’m most proud of the community building we did at ExitEvent. I believe we knitted the startup community together through the stories and information we shared and events we held. There was no Raleigh vs. Durham vs. Charlotte at ExitEvent.

We just looked for great stories, and new ways to bring together entrepreneurs from around the state. I’m also proud of the work of our freelance team. We spent time with entrepreneurs to get the full story, found new angles and provided context….we told the stories that others wouldn’t.

While you were an employee of a larger company, you also were an entrepreneur, seeking to build a successful company. What were the key lessons you learned in your ExitEvent experience that might be helpful to entrepreneurs and those perhaps thinking about building a startup?

The biggest things I learned were about myself—what I’m good at and what I’m not, what I get excited about and what I don’t.

My advice to others would be to learn these things about yourself as quickly as possible. Put the right people around you to support the areas you’re not as strong in or as passionate about. And if you don’t have the resources to make those hires, do the things you’re best at superbly as you work to land the resources you need to do everything else.

Also, test, learn and iterate, but test something long enough to be sure you gave it enough of a shot.

Finally, communicate communicate communicate—to your team, advisors, investors, etc. Be sure everyone knows how they can support you and when to celebrate your successes.