Busy, busy, busy but fun, fun, fun

9 Dec

As the busy holiday season descends upon us, I breathe deeply and sigh, “If only we had a week that all we did was catch up!”

Oops! I just remembered one more thing I should have done three days ago. That was Tuesday, though, and Editor Ana Wraight and I were busy critiquing portfolios of advanced public relations students at Baylor University. This was Ana’s first time and my fourth or fifth time to accept Dr. Cassy Burleson’s invitation to critique professional portfolios.

Critiquing the work of someone new to public relations inspires those of us who have worked for decades in the fields of marketing and journalism. I never tire of seeing new ideas and was excited to see how many had incorporated QR codes into their work. It was editorial intern Audrey Barron who first introduced the wonderful little coded squares to me last semester. Once I showed them to our publisher, he embraced the codes and decided to add them to every chapter of a book we were publishing at the time, Upgrade to Free: The Best Free and Low-Cost Online Tools & Apps.

The portfolios unveiled tons of talent Baylor soon will unleash. While I love looking as new ideas, I find myself each time looking at the details. Details! Details! Details! I write on one note after finding two misspellings in the entry resume. Those two misspellings cost the student credibility. How could I trust them to send out press releases or Facebook posts if they could not proof their own resume?

For me, the most heartbreaking part was viewing a video and as a word flashed across the screen, I exclaimed out loud, “Oh, no!” The word, the only one on the screen, was misspelled. The video was priceless, but I felt for the student who didn’t take the time to ask several to look over her work before she submitted it.

Having worked with Dr. Burleson now for several semesters, I also know she wants her students to know Associated Press style. In fact, she counts five points off for every AP Style error. In my beginning news class at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, we had a test over every chapter of the AP Stylebook. Sure, there have been changes over the years, but the AP Stylebook and me, we are still very tight friends. I hope the Baylor students remember those items I marked in their books so they won’t make the same style errors at new employers.

Peers sat around the table with us, all intently reviewing students’ work. Ana summed up her first review time this way:

“Having little to no background in marketing and PR, I was a bit nervous going into the reviews. I knew I could hold my own editorially (comma abusers and misspellers beware!), but I don’t necessarily always know what makes a good press release, for instance. I have to say, I was blown away by most of the digital products the students created. These students are so talented! I felt myself even almost cheering for Baylor after one particularly engaging and inspiring video. Almost.”

We left for the day, feeling we had contributed, but we also had gained from the experience.

Then, only a couple days later, I was pulling together our first book signing of the fall. Our newest book Cotton Bales, Goatmen & Witches: Legends from the Heart of Texas officially released Nov. 22. Author Bradley T. Turner and Photographer Mark Burdine joined Baylor Editorial Intern Debra Gonzalez and me at the Texas State Technical College Bookstore. I knew from experience that Store Manager Greg Guerico welcomed us to do book signings but insisted on refreshments. Debra and I manned a festive Christmas table with cookies and punch while Turner and Burdine stayed busy signing books.

This morning I visited Hewitt, Texas, Turner’s hometown, spreading news about another book signing from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday, Dec. 12, at the Hewitt Public Library, 100 Zuni Drive, in Hewitt.

Now, the clock and calendar say the week is ending, but I’m in a holiday mood, spinning with publishing excitement.

-Sheila

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