Five Reasons a Master’s Degree is Valuable at Any Career Stage

By Dawn Doty

I recently completed my master’s degree at JHU and wrote about the experience for my firm’s blog. Folks at JHU thought it might be interesting for regular readers of the career blog, too, so I updated the post.

Over the past 3.5 years, I took one class at a time, year-round, to complete my degree while working full-time. I often was asked, “Why are you getting a master’s degree now?” It’s a legitimate question. I’m a VP/Partner at Linhart PR and have had a nearly three-decade career in public relations. What could a degree give me that “real world” experience had not already provided?

Here are five reasons I believe getting an advanced degree can be valuable…at any stage in your career:

  1. You can apply what you learn in school at work…every day: I studied persuasion theory with Miscally and applied it to how to encourage Moms to think differently about Crocs shoes. I researched online influencers for a Jeni’s ice cream project in Tracey Schroeder and Kelly Hur’s digital media class, which helped me learn to do something that at my level is tackled by junior colleagues. Bottom line: learning was relevant to my day-to-day career life.

     Given the vast changes that have taken place in the past five years in the communication industry, I’d argue that learning is more important now than ever before. The environment has required experienced pros to learn new skills. It’s an exciting time to be working in this industry and it requires more learning than ever before to stay competitive.

  1. An online degree is a great option for busy professionals: Think about how work gets done in the real world. Do you have conference calls frequently or write plans via Google docs that you edit and review with colleagues? Do you share/discuss substantive information over email? If you answered yes to these questions, this mirrors how you study in an online environment.

     In addition, I actually found the online learning environment freeing. It allows you to study when it fits your work and family schedule and it doesn’t require time on the road, gas in your tank, or a babysitter for your kids.

  1. Academic rigor is good for the mind: The ability to synthesize tons of data and argue a point of view regularly in a succinct two or three-page paper made me a better thinker and writer. The critical thinking skills you learn and apply consistently in graduate school are valuable ways to stretch your mind which ultimately sharpens your work.
  2. Are you craving work that you can’t (yet!) do in your current position? I’ve always wanted to work internationally. But I don’t. A public diplomacy class gave me the opportunity to analyze the American Corners program operated by the U.S. Department of State and interview people from all parts of the globe. While I craved getting As in school, the A+ I earned in Joan Mower’s class paled in comparison to simply being able to work on an interesting project beyond our U.S. borders.
  3. Personal goals have professional value: I told myself for years I wanted a master’s degree. It was a personal goal. As we take on more work and family responsibilities and focus on career growth, it is easy to put the brakes on personal goals that are time consuming outside of the office. That’s what I had done.

     I’m grateful to my husband and work partners for supporting my commitment to achieve this goal. It required me to reduce my community service commitments and to study on vacations in Croatia and Ireland. However, it rewarded me with the energy to continue to “lean in” to my career. I believe the personal goal I achieved will have professional value for decades to come.

JHU grads and students, what do you think? If you are still taking classes, what advice would you add? Most importantly, if you have resolved to start (or finish!) a degree program, as Nike would say, “Just do it!”

Dawn Doty/Vice President/Partner

Linhart Public Relations

ddoty@linhartpr.com

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Ugh, You’re So Americanized

By Yumi Phillips

“Ugh, you’re so Americanized.”

My grandfather said this to me with a sneer that conveyed a bit of frustration and annoyance. It happened when I seemed to challenge his view on what we were discussing.

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This was an “aha” moment for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why? Well, in my mind, I was sharing a valid point to add to the conversation in a respectful manner. But to my grandfather, I’ve done the opposite of what traditional Japanese culture expects: obedience and respect to elders, especially to men who are the head of the household. I thought that I contributed maturely as a young adult to the discussion, but my grandfather was shocked that his youngest granddaughter not only disagreed with his opinion so openly but also that I even had my own opinion on the matter in the first place.

I doubt what happened is unique to me. Most people have probably have experienced some sort of generation gap, if you will. But I also think that it has something to do with my bicultural background, being raised in a Japanese household while growing up in the States. I am sometimes seen as too Americanized in Japan and too Japanese in the States. I’ve had more of these “aha” moments since that conversation with my grandfather, mainly in my professional life.

Picture 161

Let me give you an example.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was raised to use the honorific title san (which means “Mr.” or “Ms.”) with anyone who is older and outside of my family. Therefore, in any professional settings, I assumed everyone would be addressed using a similar type of formality. So, I was a bit shocked when I learned that almost everyone at my work— including the president of the organization— is on a first-name basis.

I know that this is not the case in every workplace in the States. It depends on the office culture, the type of professional relationship you have with the person, etc. And I don’t call just anyone at work by his/her first name. I certainly use formality when it’s appropriate, especially for the first correspondence or meeting and with certain respected individuals. I was just shocked at first because it’s almost unthinkable in the Japanese society to address your co-worker let alone your boss by his/her first name.

At any rate, it definitely took a while for me to address people with doctorate degrees—particularly college deans, university presidents, and former congresspersons, among others— by their first names, even when they requested it. I’m used to it by now; but along the way, there have been other “aha” moments. And every time it happens, I think about what happened with my grandfather many years ago. Then, I remind myself to consider how my reactions are perceived and what’s culturally appropriate in the situation.

I now feel that I’m more conscious of my surroundings and more able to place myself in other people’s shoes. And it’s a great asset to be able to understand cultural differences and know how to be adaptable—or so I’m told. What are your thoughts?

Yumi Phillips is the associate program officer of Health Policy Educational Programs and Fellowships at the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. She is also the deputy director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health Policy Fellows program. Before joining the IOM, Yumi was an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellow at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yumi received her BS in biology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her MA in communication from the Johns Hopkins University.

 

 

 

 

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The (somewhat surprising) Link Between Communications and HR

amy pic      As a Human Resources professional, I wouldn’t describe myself as the typical JHU Communications student. Why? Well, the start of every semester brings the inevitable    introduction thread on Blackboard, when the other students describe their jobs using terms like ‘’communications officer’’ and ‘’social media guru’’ and ‘’community manager.’’

     It is always with a bit of a grimace that I write, ‘’I am a Human Resources professional..’’ and hope that I don’t lose my audience before I can quickly explain that – in my mind – there is actually a lot of overlap between traditional HR and traditional communications roles in organizations.

What comes to mind when you think of Human Resources?

Be honest.

We are a department generally associated with routine support functions like payslips and benefits processing, but we are most often associated with complaints, unpopular   rules, and top-down directives.

    While not universally liked nor respected, traditional Human Resources roles encompass many elements of a communications officer. HR departments rely on – and can support – communications efforts on many levels.

Here are three areas of intersection between HR and Communications departments:

Recruitment

HR is generally in charge of recruitment and selection. This requires us to ‘’sell’’ our positions to the outside world and encourage potential candidates to apply to our jobs. For this to be successful, we rely on the Communication team to build our brand. For our part, we enhance this brand through our direct interaction with externals during the hire process. The people we interact with during the recruitment process can become our ambassadors and the way we interact with them helps to shape the way our organizational brand is interpreted by the outside world. If the brand isn’t strong, HR won’t get good applicants; if our interaction with candidates isn’t positive and professional, our brand will suffer. Both departments rely on strong and clear advertising of the organization to the external world.

Crisis Planning

Any organization that has employees based in Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone at this moment is probably relying on their HR team to be communicating decisions about office closures and modified work schedules related to the Ebola epidemic. Even in situations where a Communication team creates crisis plans, HR is typically the department that communicates internally about official organizational stances on crisis situations – so we need to understand how to do this well. As an HR professional at an international NGO, these communications are usually related to security concerns following an outbreak, a coup, or a flood. In smaller organizations, HR is often also the department charged with domestic security concerns like fire drills and evacuation planning. A recent internal communication related to Ebola was a joint communication effort by both departments; my understanding of communication best practices facilitated that collaboration.

Building Organizational Culture

HR plays a huge role in building the internal organizational culture during the life cycle of employees. Starting with induction, new hires are trained to understand the culture and live the brand of the organization. This cultural adoption is further reinforced during annual reviews, and is often measured through the oft-dreaded and derided ‘’employee survey.’’ The Communication team should be involved in creating and distributing the employee survey because they are also charged with building and nurturing this cultural adoption and managing the organization’s brand internally. Employees who are happy, satisfied, and live the culture of the organization become brand ”ambassadors” enabling this cultural adoption and promoting the brand externally. Satisfied employees also create less turnover and fewer ‘’problems’’ for HR to sort out. It becomes a ‘’win-win’’ for both teams when employees are happy and live the culture; so it makes sense for both teams to work together to ensure this happens.

The bottom line is that HR and Communications are not as far apart as it may seem at first glance. After five semesters in the program, I feel strongly that being an HR professional is not such a strange career choice for someone interested in Communications as a discipline. I have improved my performance at work tremendously using the knowledge I’ve gained through the JHU Communication program. I recently had a meeting with my company’s new Communication Officer and she admitted to being surprised by how much I knew about leveraging social media to build our brand internally and externally. I admitted that I was enrolled in the program at JHU. Her reply? ‘’So you ARE a Communications professional – you just have an HR job.’’ I agreed.

Amy Thomas is currently a Human Resources Advisor at SNV Netherlands Development Organization. Amy has had various roles in HR over the past ten years including HR advisory roles with international NGOs based in southern Africa and southeast Asia, and HR management consulting roles supporting the US Government. She is currently based in the Hague. Amy has been in the Johns Hopkins University AAP Communications program since 2011 and will graduate this spring. You can find Amy on LinkedIn: nl.linkedin.com/in/amyerinthomas

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Behavioral Economics helped a communications campaign—Lessons from the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project

HHS & ACF logosAs communicators, we know people don’t always make the choices we hope they will in spite of our most persuasive campaigns. Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) wanted to see whether applying behavioral economics theories could help improve social service programs and policies. We, the Office of Child Support Enforcement, specifically want to understand how people’s behaviors and decision-making abilities affected their decisions in child support situations. In this specific study in Texas, could behavioral economics research help improve the number of applications an office would receive from their mailing campaign to get incarcerated parents to apply for child support order modifications? Based on the data, it worked!

Background

There are 1 million parents in federal, state, and local jails. Many have court orders requiring them to pay child support. Some state and local child support offices often try to get these parents to have their court-ordered child support payments changed for the time they are incarcerated so they don’t build up child support debts during their jail time.

Order modification is not an automatic process in most states; parents need to request a review when their economic status changes, such as when they are incarcerated. The majority of noncustodial parents do not request a modification so they leave prison owing thousands of dollars in back support.

The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) Project Texas Study

The ACF Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation  wanted to understand two things: why these parents fail to respond to mail outs that explain how they can request modifications; and what kinds of small, inexpensive process changes could state and local agencies make that would influence more parents to complete a modification packet.

The ACF research team studied the process the Texas Attorney General’s (AG) Office used to see if changes based on behavioral economics research could increase request rates.

The Standard Process

The AG’s office would send parents letters that told them they had the option to apply for a modification, gave them instructions on how to start the process, and included a form for the parent to fill out. Less than 30 percent responded to this outreach in spite of its benefits. The BIAS team looked for bottlenecks in the process and tried to figure out what behaviors motivated the parents to ignore the opportunity.

The Barriers

INCARCERATED_Initial_Inverse_Postcard

Back side of teaser postcard

The BIAS team saw some potential behavioral bottlenecks in the modification application process. When inmates received envelopes with the Texas Attorney General’s return address, they may have thrown them away without even determining what was inside. For others, the form letter was not written in plain language so it may have been difficult for inmates with limited educations to understand. Still for others, the form may have been daunting. It had too many blocks to fill out and the inmates often did not have important information such as their child support case number or the custodial parent’s address. Another significant barrier was likely meeting with the prison’s law librarian to get the paperwork verified and notarized. It sometimes turned into multiple visits to ensure the paperwork was accurate and complete.

The Solutions Tested

Front side of teaser postcard.

Front side of teaser postcard.

Staff members sent a teaser postcard before the letter was mailed. The AG’s office removed its office designation from the envelopes to make them less intimidating. The staff made the form letter more readable and then printed it on colored paper to make it stand out. They included a short, four-step checklist for the parents to follow. Staff members pre-populated a section of the application so the inmate wouldn’t have to try to find the data. Finally, the office sent a reminder postcard a few weeks after the letter was delivered for those who hadn’t returned the application.

Results

The entire effort added less than $2 per inmate for printing the postcards, purchasing the postage, and pre-populating the applications. The results were much more significant. The response rate rose from 28 percent to 39 percent!

Next Steps

Here at the Office of Child Support Enforcement, we’re excited to continue our studies in communications and behavioral economics. ACF awarded a new grant awarded October 1 called Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services. Five state-run child support agencies and the District of Columbia will receive portions of the nearly $4 million grant to continue to test strategies that might improve outcomes in broader child support situations.

More Information

If you would like to find out more about behavioral economics and how ACF applied the theories in this BIAS study, the information is on this webpage, Taking the First Step: Using Behavioral Economics to Help Incarcerated Parents Apply for Child Support Order Modifications.

Members of the BIAS study team also spoke at a panel discussion at a Welfare and Evaluation Research Conference recently. The video is on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRy8gxI5Mdo&list=TLQzSJxueVr71qyTz3cs5IdS5z-WQnaCxt

 

Danek_Kim_6X5-5Kim Danek, a 2013 JHU MA Communication alumna, is a Writer/Editor at the Office of Child Support Enforcement in the Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services. She is also a retired Army public affairs sergeant major. You can find Kim on Twitter at @KimDanek or LinkedIn, Kim Danek. Her email address is kim.danek@acf.hhs.gov.

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Growing the Guard: A Campaign from the Defense Policy Front Lines

By WILL MARTIN

In early 2011, Operation Iraq Freedom became Operation New Dawn, marking the close of U.S. combat operations in Iraq. Later that year, President Obama began speaking less about “surge” and more about “drawdown” when addressing the U.S. role in Afghanistan. The message was clear: After more than 10 years, the American people had tired of war, and the White House began responding with a move toward ending those conflicts.

Photo courtesy of the California Military Department

Photo courtesy of the California Military Department

The Problem with Peace

Ironically, the looming peace posed a problem for me as a communication professional. As a public affairs officer at the California Military Department (state headquarters for the 22,000 soldiers and airmen of the California National Guard), I had centered the majority of my messaging on the contributions of National Guardsmen to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In California alone, guardsmen have deployed more than 41,000 times since the 9/11 attacks, more than any other state. At present, more than half the nation’s National Guardsmen are combat veterans. If my goal was to stoke some patriotic fire in the hearts of target audiences and stakeholders, those numbers made for some pretty good kindling.

But as the wars waned in 2012, my public affairs colleagues and I were tasked with keeping the California Guard viable. And, as usual, it came down to politics and money. When our young men and women are knee-deep in combat, arguing for tax dollars is a pretty easy sell. But when the purse strings are tight and the wars are fading from the public mind, it takes more than a patriotic stump speech on Veterans Day to convince Joe Congressman to dip into the public coffers.

Direct Message, Influential Audience

So how did we decide to sell the Guard? How could we ensure that our soldiers and airmen wouldn’t be relegated to a “weekend warrior” status as they had in decades past?

First, we chose to target the policymakers, not the public. Because California is home to a constant barrage of natural and man-made emergencies, the National Guard typically stays near the forefront of residents’ minds. Between massive wildfires, earthquakes and mountaintop rescues, the California National Guard responds to an emergency incident on average once every three days. Just rescuing our neighbors is often the best PR.

But we also needed to win over the men and women who pay our bills. So we chose to target websites and publications they and their staffers read – most notably the “The Hill” and its “Congress Blog” in Washington, D.C. – and we chose a message that resonated with our tough fiscal times: Namely, the National Guard is the nation’s most cost-effective military force. Put in cyber speak, we argued it was time to #GrowTheGuard.

That central message – grow the Guard – was supported by two main talking points: First, a guardsman is cheap, costing taxpayers about one-third that of his active duty counterpart throughout his career; and, second, guardsmen not only fight wars, but are the only U.S. service members that also respond to domestic emergencies and unrest. In other words, the taxpayer gets the most bang for their buck with the National Guard.

The plan and execution have been both simple and organic. By keeping a finger on the pulse of defense-spending debates, we provided timely and quality op-eds to policymaker and defense publications, with a prominent general’s name attached for effect.

Stirring Things Up

While its difficult to precisely measure the campaign, as it has been relatively fluid, the fact that it has raised the ire and gained public responses from active duty leaders is testimony enough that it’s been well-played, effective and, at a minimum, gained us a seat at the table when important conversations occur.

In the end, though, our campaign has been rooted in a timely and direct message with an influential audience in mind. Really, it’s hard to imagine an industry or campaign where those principles wouldn’t apply.

Will Martin is deputy director of public affairs for the California Military Department. A former McClatchy Newspapers reporter and editor on the East Coast, he now calls Sacramento and the military his full-time home. He began graduate studies in communication through Johns Hopkins University this year. You can find him on Twitter at @wmartin89 or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/pub/will-martin/17/558/240/.

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Measuring Success, Not Just Numbers

                                                                                              blogpic2By Zack Langway

“Was it a good ROI?”

“What was our reach?”

“But did it go viral?”

If you’ve ever run a digital campaign, you’ve surely encountered these three questions in one shape or another. Digital campaigners are a data-obsessed group, and often focused like a laser on numbers, numbers, numbers. Numbers are important. And quantifying results is valuable. But being “data-driven” does not absolutely mean focusing only on what we can quantify with our nifty trackers, dashboards, and monitoring tools. Digital communicators of the world – let’s get beyond numbers!

Start with the end in mind

You’ll want a clear roadmap before you embark on any digital campaign. What does success look like for you? And more importantly, why are you defining success in this way? Set your key performance indicators (KPIs) based on these questions, and think of both numerical and non-numerical KPIs. When you start with the end in mind, you can set up the right tracking mechanisms from the get-go, and be ready to set and manage expectations throughout your campaign.

Manage expectations

“The best laid schemes of mice and men…” Am I right? Have you ever had a campaign go exactly as planned at its outset? When setting up your digital campaign, it’s important to manage expectations of your team or client. This starts with the very first campaign kick-off meeting: spell out what success looks like, but also the conditions and inputs required to reach that vision of success.

What might derail this campaign? What might prevent success? What are the potential stumbling blocks you can identify up front? When launching a campaign, clarity breeds accountability, and spelling out what can be expected from a campaign – as well as what is needed from team members and clients to meet those expectations – is an essential step.

Give numbers context

“We had 250 million impressions with more than 65 million timeline deliveries!” Hooray! I think… Right?

In our attempts to show success and wow our colleagues, supervisors, and clients, we sometimes forget that numbers alone don’t change the world. Numbers need context, especially big ones. Instead of saying, “We had 250 million impressions,” contextualize the number in terms of your KPIs: “We generated 500% of our target social impressions.” Instead of saying, “We added 400 new emails,” perhaps try, “We’ve increased our subscriber list by 2%.” Big numbers can impress on a surface level, but the context is usually what demonstrates the actual value of your work.

Capture non-numerical success indicators

Ok, still with me? Now that we’ve started to break down this notion that big numbers are what you need to succeed, let’s look at some ways we might ignore numbers altogether in communicating the success of our digital campaigns.

  • Were any errors reported by recipients?
  • Did messaging reflect organizational values?
  • Did the campaign generate an earned media coverage?

Answering these questions (or other non-numerical questions about your campaign) can help you see success as something beyond just a series of numerical data points in a KPI tracker.

Do a 360-degree review

 You’re done. The campaign’s a wrap, and you’re ready to pack it in and move on to the next exciting Twitter chat, digital partnership, or online advocacy initiative. You’ve analyzed your KPIs and asked your non-numerical questions. So what’s next?

  • Debrief participants. Talk to your internal team members, institutional stakeholders, peers, and external partners. Discuss the campaign, and gather intelligence from others’ perspectives on what went well, what could have gone better, and if others see the campaign as a success.
  • Document lesson learned. Especially when we’re in “campaign mode,” it’s easy to flip from one campaign to the next. Take a moment, document the outcomes and learnings, and use this to build an even better campaign next time.
  • Be honest. Sometimes it feels necessary to make things seem a little rosier to placate a funder, a client, or a stakeholder. But over-polishing will hurt you in the long run. Honest deconstruction of a campaign can help clients or funders see what additional resources might be needed, and it can help you and your teammates identify procedural or programmatic weaknesses in your campaign. In short, honesty helps you improve, gloss helps you ignore.

Zack Langway is a digital strategist and experienced nonprofit consultant currently serving as Vice President for Digital at Fenton.  He has provided strategic guidance on establishing and growing digital and social presence to a number of national social good institutions, including Teach for America, the United Nations Foundation, and Johnson & Johnson’s global health initiatives.

Previously, Zack has served as director of digital strategy for the Center for Community Change.  In this role, Zack led online organizing and campaigns to build power and dignity for low-income communities of color, fighting for immigrant rights, retirement security, and economic justice.  This work has led to a 20x increase of digital supporters of CCC’s Fair Immigration Reform Movement and the defeat of Minnesota’s proposed voter restriction ballot initiative, among other wins.

Zack received his A.B. Political Science from Brown University in 2009, and an M.A. in Communications from Johns Hopkins University in 2013. He currently serves on the Brown University Alumni Board of Governors, and lives in Washington, DC with his wonderful husband, Matt.

You can tweet Zack at Tweet @ZackFromDC to weigh in!

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Creativity in Communication

By Kara Jensen

You are looking at a product of human creativity. That computer, the one you’re using right now, is one of the most recent pieces of creative innovation. We need creativity to both survive and progress in this world, so it is no surprise to find creativity in communication. When we communicate, we create, and if we can create the right message, we will reach larger audiences.

Working in communications means solving problems that don’t even exist yet. Professionals must think in new and unique ways—both of which require creativity. In the past, many have associated creativity with being “right-brained,” since this hemisphere is responsible for generating divergent thought. However, recent research has found that people use both hemispheres when thinking creatively: the right generates the “out of box” ideas, and the left analyzes and evaluates those ideas. With this circular pattern, new and exciting ideas are formed, many of which turn into tangible products—like your computer.

Creativity graphic

Cultivating creativity at home and in the workplace starts with a passion to persuade or reinforce an existing message. Follow these steps to get your creative juices flowing, and remember, once you start, the stream only gets stronger.

  1. Inspiration includes everything: if you find yourself stuck, get some new ingredients. Go to a new restaurant, listen to different types of music, or read a text you wouldn’t normally pick up. The more options you have in your recipe book, the more possibilities you have, so try something outside your comfort zone. You might be surprised; inspiration can come from anything.
  2. New experiences = new perspectives: when we meet new people or travel to new places, we build new connections in our brains. These connections can be important when creating unique messages. Reaching one’s audience starts with understanding the people within the selected group, so developing new relationships can give you a new lens and a significant advantage.
  3. Record, record, record: you never know when that creative spark will come, so keep a way to record these new ideas nearby. With today’s technological advances, this can be as simple as viewing an item you already have differently: now your cell phone is no longer just a phone; it’s your journal, your record-keeper, and a place to keep those hidden gems, so you never lose them.
  4. Be conscious of your environment: if you have a certain spot in your home where you tend to work, start there. But, if you find yourself sinking, all you have to do is swim to another island. This can be as simple as taking a walk outside, or as drastic as changing a wall color. The trick is to be conscious of what’s around you. If it’s not working, don’t force it. There will always be another island in the distance.
  5. Create with the door closed, edit with it open: a large part of developing something new is collaboration. People who take time to incorporate constructive criticism are usually more successful. So set your ego aside, because more heads are better than one when it comes to the editing process. Choose a small group of people you trust, and remember, you’re the one that ultimately decides, so all ideas are good ideas.
  6. Time to reflect: self reflection helps ground your thinking. Take time to keep a record of your developments over time, so that you can see your progress and your weaknesses. Working on your weaknesses starts with identification, so those who know where to improve tend to do better. Reflection is also a time to pat yourself on the back. Creating isn’t easy, so it’s important to recognize your talents because you have many.
  7. Inviting extreme ideas: the very essence of creativity is doing something new. Sometimes this pushes us outside the social standard of “normal.” Embrace these moments as reflections of your individuality, but keep your intended audience in mind. The trick is to find ways to intrigue your audience without pissing them off. After careful research, go for it, because many risks are rewarded.
  8. Set time limits: when developing something new, the editing process could take longer than the process of creation itself. Setting realistic time limits will ensure that your hard work will pay off. Use your knowledge of past projects to sketch out a rough schedule. Do your best to keep to your schedule, but also realize it may change along the way. Fuzzy boundaries can help during the creation process, but deadlines should stay. Set your individual deadline a few days early to ensure your best work.
  9. Focus on passion, not money: if your incentive is purely monetary, you’re doing yourself an injustice. Creating is difficult, so you need the passion to pursue your effort. If money is all you’re after, you won’t take the risks needed to really make an impact. While working, keep this in mind: make money to live; don’t live to make money. We are liable to miss the best in life if we don’t know how to live. A creative life is a happy one, so kick back and enjoy the ride.

 Let’s hear from you. What advice do you have to feed the creative spirit in communication? Do you agree that we should make money to live, not live to make money? What do you think of the woman artist in our graphic? Is she a stereotype or would Maya Angelou wonder why her quote is used in this mash-up?

Kara pic

Kara Jensen teaches remedial English and reading courses at Georgia Military College in Warner Robins, Georgia. In 2009, she earned her bachelor’s degrees, a B.A. in English and a B.S.Ed. in English Education. In 2010, she graduated with her M.Ed. in secondary English Education. Kara is currently working on a M.A. in Communications through Johns Hopkins University. In 2013, Kara Jensen won Georgia Military College’s Educator of the Year Award. On her days off, she enjoys walking her chocolate Labrador, Summerbun, reading, writing, and traveling. You can contact Kara at kjense11@jhu.edu or view her LinkedIn page.

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