Romanitha Jones

Beyond a writer.

I want my body of work to demonstrate that writers can move past the periphery and the mindset that we best serve organizations through our writing skills alone. Writers have so much more to offer.

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My portfolio is presented as a professional who has taken the tenets of writing and demonstrated that the learnings create a backdrop for workplace success.

I want my body of work to serve as a body of evidence that supports my claim that writers can move past the periphery and past the mindset that we best serve organizations through our writing skills alone. In actuality, the skills we learn as professional writers are invaluable in the fulfillment of many workplace objectives.

My Impetus for Presenting This Body of Work

My impetus for writing about the lack of recognition formally trained writers experience the workplace is twofold.

I have a compelling professional journey that demonstrates that writers do add value above writing and editing copy.

I have earned two undergraduate degrees from UA Little Rock–a marketing degree and a journalism degree (with an emphasis in print). My writing skills were appreciated and valued as a student, but I found that many hiring managers seemed to devalue the skills that I could bring to positions that were not writing intensive. If the position was not solely focused on writing or editing the poorly written copy of others, they didn't find value in my skillset. This was disappointing since I was overqualified for many of these positions.

When I graduated in 2006 with my second undergraduate degree, I was fortunate enough to land a position at Snap-on Equipment in Conway. As a skilled writer, I won the position over many who had the ‘Public Relations’ expertise that many employers value in a communications director. What they needed was someone with dual capabilities, an indiviudal with press experience but who also possessed strong writing skills. I fit that description perfectly, as I was writing for a local real estate publication when I interviewed for the position. While I got the job, I quickly found that my colleagues didn't really appreciate my skillset. Everyone there was a "writer." The term was so loosely used, that my revisions were often met with intense debates over basic grammar rules. I dug in, and eventually, I felt valued for my skills and contributions.

When trained writers who have a passion for the craft enter a rhetorical situation, the process concludes with pieces that are light years ahead of where they began. It took a great deal of effort on my part and the continuous generation of great communication pieces for me to educate my colleagues on this. While there, I wrote across many genres. I wrote press releases, technical instructions for the operation of automotive diagnostic equipment, sales copy, and corporate presentations. I became more than a writer. I became an integral member of the marketing team, and it felt great to be included in discussions from which I had previously been exempt.

With the economic downturn of 2009, I was downsized. I came back to campus for my graduate degree in Professional and Technical Writing. As I moved closer to graduation, I re-entered the workforce. I quickly realized that many employers associated this degree solely with technical know-how or ‘copyediting’ skills. In 2011, a close friend recommended me for a copyediting job with a local marketing firm. I did get the job, but throughout my first year in this position, I felt relegated to editing. I was not given the ability to write campaign copy or the ability to offer solutions to complex audience analysis. It wasn’t until my agency pitched a campaign on structural racism to the Clinton School of Public Service that the amalgamation of my skillset was appreciated. I developed the presentation, did all of the statistical analysis, and wrote the campaign pitch. Mind you, I was only given this opportunity as the brand manager who was originally supposed to manage this process, accepted a position elsewhere.

I’ve excelled in my current position because of the skills I've honed as a trained writer--the ability to structure texts, to analyze audiences and to clearly present arguments based on data, to organize texts in a way that presents a strong and compelling narrative, among others.

I want to let other professional writers and academics know that what we do is important and can yield fulfilling career opportunities. These groups are my audience.

My second motivation to write about the often peripheral existence of writers in the workplace is to demonstrate to other writers that walking in your passion can improve career opportunities. I also want to offer those who instruct in this area a concrete case to use in discussions about the value of our craft.

I was told countless times that this would be a degree and training that would not offer me the opportunities I desired for career mobility. I was often encouraged "to do something else," or "try another graduate program," by friends and family who were concerned about my future employment opportunities. My now ex-husband and my parents were equally vocal about their concerns related to job opportunities available for professional writers. My ex-husband thought that we were taking on more debt that would not yeild earnings lucrative enough to justify the additional student loans. My parents were concerned because shortly after entering the program, I was going through a divorce. They were worried that this degree would not lead to a single income source that would provide for me and my girls. They were afraid that I was making a decision based on a pasttime, and not what was best for my family. Many years later, I am happy to state that I have thrived as a result of my degree choice. I am motivated to help writers understand that the skills and theories taught in this program, and others like it, can create invaluable opportunities and mobility in the workplace.

I have been fortunate enough to participate in serving clients and developing the processes that make managing multiple brands a bit easier for my staff who often bring little writing experience to their position. I’ve used theories associated with writing as a process and theories related to the recursive nature of writing to reduce writer's block and reduce team revisions, and to encourage my team to build new text from existing texts.

So, it's time.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the ability to dive into many of the formal aspects of writing. I'm hopeful that the writing samples included here support my positing of opportunities for writers and demonstrate my mastery of program outcomes. These pieces include:

  1. Writing process guides designed to support creative thinking and collaboration
  2. Ad campaigns executed across multiple mediums-including social, digital, print, radio and television
  3. Research reports
  4. Strategic plans
  5. Website design and copywriting

I want my body of work to demonstrate that the skills emphasized in this writing programs will change the outlook potential students have on the existing options they have professionally and personally.

There is no need for a skilled writer to exist on the periphery.

Romanitha Jones