Added a new title to my resume!


For more than a year now, I’ve been working in communication for a county government in Oregon. In this position, I’m responsible for messaging, branding, strategy, strategic communication, internal communication and so much more.

In my role, I oversee eight different divisions that encompass more than 500 employees who work on programs ranging from housing, social services, public health, behavioral health and other areas. In February of 2016, there was a Hepatitis A exposure at a local movie theater. I had a variety of roles in this response, which included: media releases, media relations, social media, strategic communication and more. I also helped to produce a video we made about the response, which I’m credited with as an associate producer.

Let me know what you think of the video!

Blow the whistle: Recruiting new officials for high school sports


Part of my Strategic Communication master’s degree requirement was to develop a strategic marketing campaign for some sort of company or organization. After weighing my options, I connected with the Oregon Athletic Officials Association (OAOA) in Wilsonville.

This nonprofit organization more or less oversees most of the high school sports referees in Oregon. They make it so your child, niece, nephew, grandchild or friend can play in a game that is officiated by high-quality referees. The problem in Oregon, and the nation, is that there is a severe shortage of officials. Working as an official is tough. It’s not glamorous. If you really think about it, officials are the best when you don’t even realize they’re there and they’re the worst when you are overtly aware that they are impacting the game. Throw in the fact that they don’t make a ton of money and that most of the officials are in their 50s and 60s, a crippling shortage of referees would wreak havoc on high school sports.

After I met with the executive director and associate executive director of OAOA, they made their request known — they wanted younger referees. My job was to create a marketing campaign to address that.

Here’s my 43-page marketing campaign I designed for OAOA.

In this campaign, you’ll see how I researched the problem of the lack of officials, how I positioned OAOA, how I suggested utilizing social media, the creative strategy, the creative platform and much more. You’ll even see how I used the Elaboration Likelihood Model as a way to support the campaign.

In late May, I presented my work to the OAOA executive director and my school adviser. The executive director was really excited about what I created and even said if he had any funds at all to hire me to implement the program, he would have offered me the job! I took that as an incredible compliment after the months of work that went into this project. I’m really interested to see if the OAOA uses it!

Leave a comment about what you think of my project!

I’m back and finally graduated from grad school!


Sorry for the long drought between posts. It was really a combination of things. Just got busy with school, landed a new job and then got a new phone that didn’t make it possible for me to do the two-step authentication you have to do on these WordPress sites in order to log in. Anyway, I’m going to do my best to start updating this site more regularly.

So the big news is that I graduated in June from the University of Oregon’s Strategic Communication master’s program. It was a long haul, but definitely well worth it. I not only learned a lot, but became friends with some really great people that were in my cohort. We’ll be friends for a long time and we’re always rooting for each other — both professionally and personally!

I think in a previous post, I detailed my story of how I even got into grad school. In 2011, I finally decided to return to school and ultimately finished out my undergrad at Portland State University. After finishing that out, I knew the University of Oregon’s Strategic Communication master’s program — based in Portland — was simply too good of an opportunity to pass up (especially for a long-time Ducks fan!). Anyway, I began the program in 2013 and just finished up in June. The whole process was arduous, but well worth it. If you’re thinking about going to grad school, definitely do it.

Finally graduated!

Finally graduated!

This was my first time at Matt Knight Arena.

This was my first time at Matt Knight Arena.


As masters students, we were in the second row (no one was in the first row), so we had really good seats!

As masters students, we were in the second row (no one was in the first row), so we had really good seats!

Right in front of where we were sitting was where each grad would have their photo taken.

Right in front of where we were sitting was where each grad would have their photo taken.

After graduation and going into a whole new world!

After graduation and going into a whole new world!

My attempt at transforming organizational communication


So with about six weeks or so in my new job, I figured I’d write an update on how things are going.

I’ve been learning a ton about the new industry I’m in, which is exciting, and there’s no shortage of things to learn on a daily basis. During two of my six weeks so far, I’ve spent them out on the road in northeast Oregon and southeast Oregon meeting with internal stakeholders, taking notes, writing stories and shooting photos. I’ve been asking them how they think I should do my job, what suggestions they have for me and everything else in between because, after all, I’m there to serve them. Along with learning as much as I can about the industry itself and its ancillary issues, everybody I’ve encountered couldn’t have been nicer.

The biggest feather in my cap so far has been working with the media and getting positive coverage of the organization. From what I understand, media coverage for the organization was almost non-existent for several years. So to combat this, I suggested we subscribe to FlashAlert, a site that the news media monitors in Oregon. With this, we would be able to get our messages out quickly and succinctly. My organization had never heard of this site before, but I assured them it would be beneficial. My advice paid off not too much later when there was a major event that happened in Oregon and I knew it would be a time to engage the media with this site. I ended up putting out two short quasi-press releases — along with several photos — and then my work phone started ringing off the hook. I had phone calls from just about every TV station in Portland, several newspapers (including The Oregonian) and even CNN. In short, I was able to garner coverage from a variety of media outlets with my media release and many started to take notice. In fact, one of the reporters from The Oregonian was interviewing my boss and said that with me taking care of the media relations and communications, our organization has had more coverage in the past few weeks than we’ve had in the past 10 years. Nice!

Another project I’ve been immersed in is a revamp of the organization’s website. When I interviewed for the position, I said the website needed a lot of work because it looked stale and stagnant. It was impossible to tell when it was last updated. So for awhile now, I’ve been working with some developers to do a complete overhaul of the website. One of my biggest priorities was to transform the organization’s communications into more of a brand journalism style, which would be utilized in a big way on the website. Basically, I would serve as a reporter for the organization and would write stories and these stories would be posted on the newly-designed site. Ideally, these stories would get picked up by the media and run verbatim. It would also be great for other stakeholders to get the content and share it. The best-case scenario in this is that these media outlets share my organization’s stories without much editing so the general public would understand our point of view and positions on certain topics. The worst-case scenario was that these stories would do nothing but bolster our internal communication with our members. It’s really a win-win proposition. A media outlet also has noticed some of the stuff I’ve been doing and actually wanted to write a story on how I’m changing the communications of the organization.

In the near future, I’ll post some photos of my organization’s original site, followed by some shots of the new site. Stay tuned!

First year of grad school is complete, and some big news!


school's out

My first year in the University of Oregon’s Strategic Communication grad school program in Portland wrapped up this week. And while that signaled the halfway mark through the program, I’m about to start another new venture — a new job.

This past term, I took a class about leadership/management from Brian McCarthy (as a former manager at Microsoft, he had some great stories!), a qualitative research class and a class on working on communication projects. There was quite a bit to learn and as always, the knowledge I gained from the rest of the cohort was just as valuable.

Looking back on my first year in grad school, it was a really good experience. The people in my cohort come from such a wide variety of experiences in both their personal and professional lives that they gave me a new, expansive outlook on my private and professional life. Along with everything I undertook through the first three terms (putting together an instrument to use in a survey, coming up with a marketing plan, figuring out my personal strengths and weaknesses and learning how to sharpen them, etc.), this Strategic Communication master’s program has been eye-opening, humbling and thrilling all at the same time. It will be a little bit odd, though, this summer because I won’t be taking any classes. It’ll be the first time since 2011 that I won’t be in school for the summer. Crazy! When school resumes at the end of September, I’ll be in a marketing/communication class and in a creative campaigns class. Psyched for both!

Also, I’ll soon be starting my first job in the communication industry as a communication coordinator for a non-profit. After years of working in the newspaper and television news industries, along with my education, I’m really looking forward to all of the challenges that are presented to me and figuring out how to solve them.

Another thing — In my last post, I showed some examples of some social media posts I wrote revolving around the high school state band and choir competitions. If you’re interested in reading the stories, here they are:


Finishing out first year of grad school and some social media posts


I’ve been pretty busy these last few weeks with school and doing some more writing. In school, I just finished writing a leadership paper about specific techniques I want to use in the future, based off the book “Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman. In my qualitative research class, I’m  working with a group to come up a strategic communication plan for an organization designed to help dogs. Only a few more weeks until this year is done. After that, I’ve got two classes in the fall term, one class in the winter term and then no classes in the spring (although, I’ll be working on my final project in the spring).

On the freelance writing side, I just spent the last two weeks covering high school state championships in band, orchestra and choir. Those were some interesting days and one thing I found surprising was that the band, choir and orchestra students (and parents) are pretty vocal on social media. As part of my freelance writing assignment, I was to Tweet out information as the championships happened. I’ve embedded some of my Tweets from the past few weeks. What do you think?


Writing some challenging stories


Since I still enjoy writing freelance stories, I was asked to write a pair of feature stories recently.

I was tasked with writing stories on two people — a swimmer and a wrestler — who had received All-Mid-Valley honors for The Statesman Journal. These were entirely different tasks because of the situation. I had interviewed the swimmer a few weeks prior and so we knew each other a little bit. The wrestler, however, was different. I not only had never seen him wrestle, but I had no idea who he was. In short, I was faced with two interesting dynamics. The first one was the swimmer. I knew him, but I wasn’t sure what other kind of information I could get. Conversely, I was starting at ground zero with the wrestler. Ultimately, I had to rely on solid interviewing techniques in both situations to not only get the information I needed, but I had to get good information to write interesting stories.

Take a look at both of my stories and let me know what you think.

Swimming: Perry Groves feature story

Perry Groves


Wrestling: Spencer Crawford feature story

Spencer Crawford


Whole Foods, New Seasons, UFC’s social media and finance: Winter term is complete!



I’m officially on spring break and figured I’d recap my winter term as a grad student at the University Of Oregon’s Turnbull Center in Portland.

One of my classes was all about marketing. This was an interesting class to me, simply because I really had no previous exposure to the nuts and bolts of marketing.  We read quite a few case studies, which included ethical considerations, and also wrote a few papers. One paper revolved around critiquing an organization’s social media. Here are the instructions on the paper:

You will write a concise, 1500 word paper on a social media marketing topic of your choice. Here are some examples:

  • Analysis of a recent B2B or B2C social media marketing campaign that describes how social media is being used, what is being done well, and what could be improved.
  • Analysis of the marketing potential of a social media platform. What are the platform’s strengths? What are its limitations?
  • Comparison of the marketing potential of two or more social media platforms.

For this paper, I picked the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and how it uses Twitter. I thought this organization has an interesting social media presence because UFC President Dana White has a huge Twitter  following. He’ll often interact with key, strategic celebrities, along with regular fans. Interesting is that on Twitter, he’ll also tell UFC fans — his target customer — that they’re idiots (or other derogatory terms) if they say something negative about either him or the UFC and, somehow, he’s able to get away with it without much backlash. Meanwhile, the main UFC Twitter page is stays away from controversy at all costs.


I also took a quantitative research class. This class focused on being able to create an instrument (that’s the technical name for a survey!) that would allow me to create an instrument for a future employer to gauge all sorts of things. We looked at perceptions, Likert Scales, Net Promoter Scores and more.

For me, this class was somewhat of a re-hash of things I had previously learned in my undergrad education at Portland State where I took a class somewhat similar to this. Two of the main differences from the Portland State class and this grad school class were that we literally had to go physically collect data (we couldn’t disperse our instrument through an online survey tool like SurveyMonkey) and that the grad school class was geared toward non-theoretical projects and more of a real-life work project that I would face while working.

So, my group decided to gauge the differences between customers of two upscale, organic grocery store chains — Whole Foods and New Seasons. My group ended up collecting 283 instruments by standing out in front of Whole Foods and New Seasons stores in the Portland-area and trying to get people to take our survey. We had a pretty high refusal rate because it seemed like people thought we were asking for money or asking people to sign some sort of petition.

Anyway, my group did quite a bit of work on this project and we were pretty pleased with how our analysis went. If you’d like to know which store customers liked more and in what areas, email me and I might post the info if there’s any interest!

I also completed my second finance class this term. It was a weekend class and it was really interesting. We talked quite a bit about financial 10Ks, gross margins and investor relations. I never thought I’d write this, but I would definitely take another finance class if I could!

Crafting a communications plan to help those mired in controversy



One of the grad school projects I talked about in one of my earlier posts was about helping those who are in or have been in the midst of public relations nightmares. So in one of my classes last term, my group (myself and two other members) took on the project of reshaping the public perception of Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins.

If you don’t know, Snyder has been in the news for awhile now due to his staunch stance on not changing the name of the Redskins — a name some consider intensely offensive. It’s a racial problem that affects many.

My group members and I researched the situation extensively and found not only a bunch of surprising information, but we also came up with several ideas of how to remedy this communications nightmare.

Take a look at the paper and plan my group came up with (I took out the names of my group members on the paper because I have not asked their permission to have their names put out publicly).

I also created a Prezi for our in-class presentation.

Got a heck of a lot of swimming in this past weekend



OK. Well, judging by the headline, I did a lot of swimming this past weekend. That, however, was not the case.

I covered two swim meets on Friday and Saturday — the Central Valley Conference district swim meet and the District 3 swim meet in Albany. My story from Friday even got a shout-out on Twitter.

These kinds of events are always somewhat difficult as a freelance writer because I have almost no background on the teams and it’s my first time seeing them compete. Still, you do the best you can.

Anyway, going to swim meets is always a little bit nostalgic for me. Growing up, my older sister was seemingly on every swim team in the known universe and every weekend, we packed up and headed out to support my sister. After going to what seemed like 6,000 swim meets growing up, the allure of swim meets quickly began to fade.

I think I’ll be covering another swim meet this weekend — the state swim meet. The state swim meet (much like the state wrestling tournament) is one of the events I look forward to covering each year, mostly because I get to run into old friends who are also covering the same meet. We’ll talk about old times, catch up with each other and basically just have a good time while working. Hard to beat that!

Anyway, here are my stories from this past weekend: