When Fox 17 Morning Show feature reporter Emily Richett announced that Friday, Nov. 16 would be her last day at the network, hundreds of fans posted to her Facebook page. Where, they wanted to know, was she going?
In a move that breaks the mold of traditional journalism career paths, Emily Richett is staying right here in Grand Rapids. “In the news industry, you usually have to ‘move out to move up,’” says Richett. “I’ve decided not to do that. I’ve invested in this community, so I want to stay.” In lieu of moving out -- and up -- to a larger market, Richett is launching Richett Media locally, which she describes as equal parts public relations, media consulting, event hosting, and content creation with an end goal of helping small businesses and local brands amplify their media exposure and connect with their customers.
“Everyone wants to know: ‘Are you still going to be on TV?’” Richett laughs. She says she will -- a little, maybe -- but most of her work will be behind the scenes. “One thing people don’t realize when they see you on TV is that the live television is just a small part of the work.” In the job she got fresh out of college and calls “the greatest adventure,” the Western Michigan University public relations graduate had been booking and producing her own segments, making contacts, doing research, writing and editing, and doing a plethora of behind-the scenes journalism at Fox 17 all along.
“Now instead of putting a company on the news once, I’ll be helping them continuously.” She says her new role at Richett Media will utilize all the skills she honed during her six years in broadcast journalism. “So much of what I’ve done has been public relations on TV, because being a feature reporter is about promoting our community.”
And it’s this community in particular that Richett appreciates. A Detroit-area native, Richett “fell in love” with Grand Rapids both personally and professionally, and decided she didn’t want to move to another market. “The reason I’m staying local is because West Michigan is known for being a community where people support one another; because of that, I know my work will be embraced. I don’t think there’s any other place like it: never a lack of good stories, always new things happening, and everyone comes together to celebrate.”
Richett is especially enthusiastic about downtown Grand Rapids, which she describes as walkable, safe, livable, and exciting all in the same breath. “In Grand Rapids, it’s very possible to go have a meal at a great restaurant, say hi to the chef, and have a very personal experience. Then you can literally step across the street and find exciting night life, art, music, theater, and shopping within a two-mile radius,” she says.
Her passion for all things local makes Richett Media an ideal media partner for West Michigan-based businesses and nonprofits. Initial clients include American RV, Experience Grand Rapids, and the Grand Rapids Downtown Alliance, for whom Richett is producing a series of weekly videos -- shared right here on Rapid Growth! -- for the Get Your Joy On
campaign to promote unique downtown holiday experiences and products. “I don’t want to limit myself to one company’s brand,” she notes, “but I do want to be able to share the good news of our community with readers and viewers.”
Going forward, Richett plans to keep her venture small and intimate, with a focus on long-term campaigns and relationships. Building on the trust she’s earned with West Michigan viewers and her deep knowledge of local businesses and events, Richett says it’ll be “me, face-to-face with the organization,” plus a team of freelance videographers, photographers, and writers. Used to getting up at 4 a.m. and finishing the bulk of her work by 10 a.m. every day, Richett is also looking forward to the transition to ‘normal people hours.’ “Now,” she smiles, “I have the motivation to get a lot done early in the day and still have time left over.”
Mixed in with Richett’s professionalism and enthusiasm is a sense of gratitude for being able to take this next step. “When I realized I wanted to stay here, I thought about what it would look like to have a sustainable career 10 years down the road, and that’s how Richett Media was born.” She says she’s humbled by the outpouring of support that came from her Fox 17 viewers, and hopes her new venture will allow her to continue to champion the small businesses and nonprofits that make West Michigan unique. Despite the fact that she’ll no longer be delivering the news every morning, Richett’s fans can follow her new projects at www.richettmedia.com
and interact with her on social media.
Nearly seven years after Richett began her career as an intern, she’s pleased to have found her niche. “West Michigan is the greatest place to live, to play, to start a business. All these years, I never definitely knew if it would be home. To finally say that it’s official, the roots will be planted here, is really a good feeling.”
Stephanie Doublestein writes and blogs about food, business, and parenting, among other things. She lives in East Grand Rapids with her husband and their two young daughters.
Editor's Note: Watch for more of Emily Richett's adventures right here in Rapid Growth in early 2013.
Photographs by Adam Bird