In revamping the “Dynamics of Media Writing” book for a second edition, I had the opportunity to check back in with the professionals I interviewed for our “Professional Thoughts” segments in each chapter. It was great to get back in touch with everyone who was so generous with their time and to see how things were going in their neck of the woods.
One of the things I needed to explain better at the front of the book was why I chose these specific pros. A reviewer for the second edition asked why I didn’t get “famous” people or seek people at the upper echelon of “famous” publications. The reason was that these people all met a need that was much more valuable than those kinds of folks could have offered.
In each chapter, the pro had an expertise in something specific that attached itself to that area. Ashley Messenger, for example, now works as an attorney for National Public Radio, but she had also spent time as a sales rep and a radio talk-show host. Alex Hummel had worked for a newspaper, did public relations for a domestic-abuse-services organization and ran the integrated marketing and communications department for a university. In these cases, and every other one I picked, the person typified one of the underlying tenets of the book: The concept of transferable skills.
The media writing courses for which this book is meant will likely contain students from all areas and disciplines of media. Regardless of if you come to class as a PR student, an advertising major, a broadcaster or a print/web journalist, the core skills you learn will benefit you. In short, these skills will transfer from job to job, regardless of if you are selling soap or cleaning up city hall.
Eric Deutsch spent much of his early career in media as a radio reporter, a job he coveted since he was in high school. When that job was cut, he went into the PR sector and found that a lot of what made him great on the air also made him great working for the New York City Housing Authority. His work history and ability to move seamlessly between fields made him perfect for this book.
When I reached out to Eric this time, I found out he was still with the NYCHA, but he had taken on a much different job. I was worried that he might need to drop out of the book because of this. However, here’s what he had to say:
“I changed jobs shortly after the last version. Same agency, but very different department/position. (After reviewing what I said for the first edition), the incredible thing about it is how minimal the edits had to be, thus proving your whole point that these skills can transfer from one job to another!”
Score one for transferable skills.