Posts Tagged Chicago Tribune

How I Got into Publicity

Today I celebrate three years of working at Tyndale House Publishers. It’s amazing to think it has already been that long! So in honor of my Tyndale anniversary, I’m going to share the story of how I got into publicity and what led me to where I am today. *Warning–this is kind of long, but I love this story*

From a young age, I always loved reading. I would stay up late at night reading for pleasure with the closet light on. My mom told me that even before kindergarten I used to “read” Curious George books. In reality, I memorized the books after having them read to me all the time so it looked like I read them! My third grade teacher and other teachers told me I was a good writer and that’s where my love for English and writing began. I used to want to be a teacher (it seems like most little girls do), but once I got into high school, I knew I wanted to major in English. I tailored my senior schedule around that by deciding I didn’t need to take AP Calculus (you only needed three years of math to graduate, after all) and took Creative Writing and Intro to Journalism instead. I was also on my high school yearbook staff the last two years I was there.

Class of 2007!

I went on to college and graduated from Taylor University with a B.A. in English/Writing and a minor in Mass Communications/Journalism. I wasn’t exactly sure what career I would go into, but all I knew is I wanted it to have something to do with writing. I was really into missions and going overseas after going on several international trips during my college years (to London, Scotland, France, China and Poland). So I sought out writing opportunities in missions. I was offered an opportunity to write for the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California before I graduated. I wanted to take it, but my parents didn’t think it was a good idea because I would have to raise support to live there (like a missionary), but I’d be living in the States. This was frustrating for me because I felt like they didn’t understand missions and how missionaries raising support is biblical, but I decided not to go.

So I had my degree and moved back home with no job prospects. I spent the summer after college devoting most of my time to serving as a leader for our college fellowship at church. I wasn’t working, but I was still busy. I was kind of searching for a job, but not being as proactive about that as I should’ve been. The most I’d done was post my resume on several different job sites and maybe apply to some of the jobs listed. It was hard because I didn’t have any experience and I had never done any internships in my field. Most entry-level jobs require 1-3 years of experience. Kinda hard to apply when you have zero years.

At the end of July, I received a call from the communications manager at the Chicago Tribune. He saw my resume on one of the websites and talked to me about a freelance communications specialist position he was hiring for. My resume said I’d done some freelance work, so I figured that’s why he called me. It was the Chicago Tribune, so of course I said I was interested! I sent him some writing samples and then left for the weekend to go on our college

The sign behind my desk in the Tribune Tower

group retreat.

This was a “no technology” retreat, so I didn’t have access to my cell phone or email all weekend. I came back late Sunday night, checked my email, and saw that the Tribune had emailed me wanting me to come in for an interview on Monday. Immediately I thought, “Oh no! That’s not going to work! I’m not even prepared!” Luckily, they were flexible and rescheduled it for Tuesday. To make a long story shorter, they called me a couple hours after the interview and hired me as the freelance communications specialist. That was my first introduction into the world of corporate communications and I learned a lot from the experience. I only took Intro to Public Relations in college and I always thought I’d be on the journalist side rather than the side of the public relations professional. My boss was fantastic too–he knew I was looking for a full-time job and kept extending the original three months I was supposed to work there, eventually telling me I could work there until I found a full-time position.

Soon after he told me this, I got a call from Tyndale House Publishers inviting me to come in for an interview for the

Sharon from Tyndale (left), author Becky Alonzo (center), & me at the International Christian Retail Show

publicity assistant position. Two interviews and less than a month later, I had my full-time job. 🙂 I learned a lot more about publishing and how to do book publicity (which is slightly different from corporate communications) and a little over a year ago I was promoted to full-time publicist when one of my colleagues left to be a stay at home mom. Now I’m still learning a lot about social media and other PR strategies to better promote our authors and products.

The fact that I found a full-time job in PR is not why I love this story. I love how this story demonstrates God’s hand in my life. I had one plan for my future and God brought me in a completely different direction. Of course, His plan was way better than my own. As I look back too, I know that God brought me to my job here at Tyndale and I can see how all the different pieces fell into place. They’re so intertwined that it’s hard NOT to miss the fact that God was in it all!

So this is not just a celebration of three years at Tyndale. It’s also a celebration of God’s faithfulnes in my life and a reminder to me of how I need to trust Him with my future. I may not know where I’m headed, but I know the One who does.

Are you noticing God’s fingerprints in your own life?

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