The Payoff

Yesterday, I learned that I’ve paid off one of two loans for Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, nearly 13 years after graduating from a one-year master’s program.

So, was $250 monthly in loan payments since 2001 worth it?

My salary has never matched those of my friends or been commensurate with the amount I work.  I’ve been laid off twice and reinvented myself several times as my industry imploded. Despite many positives, I grew embittered about the media and discouraged by information overload in our digital age.

But the answer is still yes.


Journalism – and PR – are really ways of ordering one’s thoughts, of approaching the world. And I don’t mean so much specific skills, tactics or strategies, but rather habits of excellence such as cultivating curiosity, glorying in meeting deadlines, enjoying content creation, being open to switching gears and structuring your writing before you even sit down.

Now I’m teaching public relations at the  University of Oregon, helping students translate their passions into careers. A lot of the course I teach, Strategic PR Communication, is about personal branding. Outside the field that might sound icky or exhausting, but really it’s about refining your core identity to position yourself for success.

Helping students prepare for that first step in their career journey is re-invigorating and inspiring to me.

It reminds me of something Kristie Phillips-Bannister told me when I interviewed her for the last story I wrote as a staff writer for a daily newspaper. A top American gymnast in the 1980s, Kristie was one of my childhood sports heroes. In 1986 she graced the cover of Sports Illustrated posed in one of her signature moves. But her career dissipated as she approached the Seoul Olympics, leading to years of frustration before she successfully re-entered the sport as an athlete, judge and ultimately, coach and owner of her own gym.

“This is part of me,” she said. “It is what I know. I can give back something to those kids that no one else has because of my experiences.”

That’s how teaching feels to me.

So J452, thanks for the insPiRation.
Here’s yours for the week:

Lifestyle…event planning… social media… business…
Target Taps Top Pinterest Influencers for Design Collaboration (Mashable)
Is this the next trend in social media marketing? What do you find interesting in this story?

Athletes & image management…
Five Questions for Michael Sam’s Publicist (PR Week US)
A fascinating look at how this NFL prospect got help managing his brand as he publicly shared his homosexuality. What do you think of the plan his publicist created and executed?

Corporate social responsibility & investor relations & crisis communications….
AOL Chief Ignites a Firestorm Over 401(k) Cuts and ‘Distressed Babies’ Remark (The Washington Post)
How could this crisis be managed? How can companies balance investor relations and corporate social responsibility? Will investors and customers have different reactions to changes at AOL? 

Fashion & crisis communications
Valentino Apologizes for Using Photo of Amy Adams at Hoffman Wake (The Guardian)
How could this crisis have been prevented? Did Valentino handle the controversy appropriately? Will the flap lead to increased sales or consumer disgust?

Fashion & social media…
Fashion Brands Embrace Social at #NYFW (Digiday)
What will the effect be on brands and consumers as social media opens up the “exclusive NYFW tents?”

The Olympics… tourism… image management…
Sochi Gambles on Future Gold (The Wall Street Journal)
Will the Olympics increase tourism to Russia? How can the Olympics impact a host country’s image?

Facebook at age 10: friends, likes & dislikes
6 New Facts About Facebook (Pew Research Center)
What does the new demographic data about Facebook users mean for social media marketers and PR practitioners? Are the numbers surprising?

Viral audio? Old technology meets new technology…
What Can Make Audio Go Viral? NPR Experiments With Building Earworms for Social Media
(Nieman Journalism Lab)
Is this the next frontier in viral? What are the implications for PR?

Gender & marketing… social media & visuals and Getty Aim to Change Women’s Portrayal in Stock Photos (The New York Times)
How is the “surge of image-based communication” on smartphones, Pinterest and Instagram changing the debate about images in content? How do you think this news will affect brand managers, content creators, news producers and consumers?

AP Style… Olympics
14 AP Style Tips for the Olympics (PR Daily)
C’mon, you know you want to choose this one…

The intersection of journalism & PR & social media…
What Forbes’ 30 Under 30Media List Tells Us About the Future of Journalism (Huffington Post)
How is social media changing journalism? What are the implications for PR practitioners?

Careers… personal branding… social media
The Ultimate Social Media Guide to Getting a Job (PR Daily)
Are you using any of these strategies to improve your online brand? How is social media changing hiring practices?  

Photo courtesy of Flickr user mpclemens via Creative Commons

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2 responses to “The Payoff”

  1. kkuttis says :

    Great post! After years in the corporate shark tank, it feels great to connect with students and give them something that was so freely given to me.

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