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Posts Tagged ‘profession’

PR 101 – The Unconventional Way

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

The New York Times recently published an article written by John D. Wagner, the manager of a communications consulting firm in Vermont. Wagner explains his unexpected and abrupt entrance into the public relations industry. While his first professional PR gig wasn’t particularly successful, the tools he learned helped him continue a career focusing on business communications.

Wagner, an English major in college who spent most of his early professional life scrambling for freelance opportunities, was offered a ghost writing job leading him to a role managing the external communications for a start-up. Without any background on public relations, he relied on examples of news releases, business jargon from friends & family, and a great deal of confidence. The one PR tip he received: “You want to weave the story of current developments into the fabric of the company.” And with that, he began his PR career. 

Wagner didn’t have any idea what the hell was going on; but in hindsight, was impressed at all that he really did know – and learn. “I realized I’d had some talent all along – and the lessons I’d learned where not the minor ones of acronyms and business clichés. I’d learn the ability to craft meaningful, motivating stories – even about this grand failure.”

Learning something new, and being expected to produce results is a risk not many are willing to take. Even if it doesn’t work out – success can be measured in many ways. The stakes are high, but the reward is priceless.

Ann Keeling says:

I admire Wagner’s gumption and going out on a limb to do something completely new. This is not something many people have the guts to do. I’m not sure how much I would advocate doing something like this on behalf of a paying client though. The downsides far outweigh the upsides in terms of possible reputation and/or brand damage.

Writer’s Block

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Content creation is one of the most important jobs in our brave new world of online publishing and social platforms. Even though print media might be on the decline, writers are in high demand and are expected to churn out work for blogs, articles, and 140 character tweets.’They are the distributors of world news, creators of conversations, developers of brand identities, and even the voice of our personal validations and emotions.

While we may admire and even envy the ability of writers ‘ be they novelists, journalists, or the listicle machines ‘ writers are not known for their work ethic. It is widely accepted in the content industry that the writers who succeed are those who have the discipline to develop a strong, consistent daily routine. It is as equally accepted that those writers are rare.

Many might assume these men and women were some of the most productive people on earth, producing a mountain of content. How do they do it? Quite chaotically, in many cases.

Megan McArdle in The Atlantic explores how, from a young age, most writers were easily able to slide by English class without any trouble. They were guaranteed an ‘A’ whether they worked feverishly on their paper for two weeks or two hours. The latter was obviously more appealing for those with natural writing gifts.

But when these writers enter the work force and are expected to write something that matters ‘ they freeze. Procrastination sets-in. That easy ‘A’ is no longer guaranteed, and now there’s money on the line. They also find themselves, perhaps for the first time in their lives, competing against legions of colleagues who were probably the good writers in their classes, too.

The deadlines, the cups of coffee, the crumbled papers, the fingerprints on the delete button ‘ these are staples of the writer’s life. While some are incapable of placing perfection aside, fearing turning in something terrible – the rest rely on the art of procrastination. The LA Times defends procrastination as an effective and necessary creative tool, a way for writers to let off steam in the sea of high expectations and desires. At its core, writing is a creative process that means letting go of control ‘ and procrastination is the ability to let the writer’s mind wander away from fear and anxiety into a moment of peace with their craft.

So maybe writers block should not be looked at as a burden, but rather a part of the process. Take the sage words of Spartacus author Howard Fast, who pointed out that completing one page every day would yield a book per year (actually, more than one book by today’s length standards). Fast’s other maxim is worth remembering, too: ‘Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block.’ In other words, writers block, schmiters block. Get to work, scribes.