Wisdom for bears

In February 2014, I spoke to a journalism class at Baylor University. The general theme was “what I’ve learned over 18 years in various communications-related jobs, and things I wish I had known when I was your age.” The other general theme was “Justin feels old.” 

But they seemed to enjoy my talk. Here’s one of the slides from my presentation. That last point continues to prove itself true.

Baylor presentation slide

I blogged, so I guess by definition…

…I’m a blogger. I was the ghost writer (which is just like a regular writer, but with fewer autograph requests) of a couple of blog posts while at Feed the Children, both of which took a strong stand on very important issues.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Sending America’s High Standards Around the World—”The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities won’t guarantee an easy road for the world’s one billion disabled people. But it will help organizations like Feed the Children fulfill our mission — for everyone.”

Join Us for a Day of Action—”Food bank demand has increased nearly 50% since 2006, and 34% of Americans now admit they have cut back on donations to churches and houses of worship. It’s a plain fact: federal programs play a crucial role in the fight against hunger.”

Ten simple ways, ten simple graphics

On a few occasions at Feed the Children, I did a little graphic design. In January 2014, I collaborated with my boss, Joy Bennett, on a blog post titled Ten Simple Ways To Help Children in 2014. I did the graphics for each of the ten, which were used together in the blog post and separately in a social media campaign.

Ten Simple Ways

Profiles in courage—and state government accounting practices

During my time with the State Comptroller of Texas, I mostly did a lot of precise technical writing about fiscal management policies and procedures. But I was also allowed to go crazy and write some features, like this profile of a department and its manager. It ran in the quarterly newsletter.

Balancing change 

Expenditure Assistance integrates technology, human touch

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s a common technique — begin a story with an old saying, then deftly weave it into the topic at hand.

But how do you do that when you’re not entirely sure what the quote means? How can something change and stay the same?

And how many rhetorical questions can one article ask?

Perhaps we can find answers in Expenditure Assistance, a section of Fiscal Communications that has seen its share of change while adhering steadily to solid standards of excellence. Continue reading

You’ve got mail. From the Comptroller. You’re welcome

While serving the State Comptroller of Texas as a Technical Writer, I wrote, assembled, and delivered email newsletters filled to the brim with useful fiscal information. They may look a little dry and prosaic, but believe me: if you were in the target audience, you practically sat by your computer eagerly awaiting their arrival. It was like Christmas, every week.

Giving Texas Trio an identity

One of my favorite freelance clients was Texas Trio, an upscale rustic furniture store. They sold the kind of stuff you’d put in your million-dollar ranch house to make it look cozy. The owner was pretty pleased with the look I came up with.

Real Estate Concepts: They sold houses, and I helped

I spent several years with Real Estate Concepts, both as a freelancer as the in-house marketing director. I built the website, designed the ads, produced the weekly open house materials, and did my best to please a large staff of type-A salespeople.

Helping lake people find lake houses with Johnson Properties

There are worse jobs than selling real estate at Possum Kingdom Lake, and there are also worse jobs than designing ads for those people who sell that real estate. I had that job. The design one.