MS in Professional Writing (MSPW) alum, Tami Herndon, is a Professional Communications Consultant. In this self-employed role, Tami coordinates projects with different clients and organizations, supporting client projects that include fundraising, internal and external communications, membership campaigns, information archiving, standard operating procedures (SOPs), requests for proposals (RFPs), and more.
Q: Tell us about your role as a Professional Communications Consultant
I am a communications consultant for different clients, and my daily tasks and responsibilities vary based on projects within the respective organizations. For example, I am the editor-in-chief of a 48-page quarterly magazine for a non-profit organization. For that project, I recruit authors, develop magazine "themes" to align with the organization's initiatives; plan page content; complete substantive copyediting; write content; liaise with the designer to select images and layout elements; oversee print and digital production; and manage administrative functions.
Another client of mine is currently launching a new product. For that project, I guide product naming; produce promotional messaging and website content; develop social media posts/plans; design packaging and inserts; develop customer email marketing messaging and strategy; and interpret and "fill-out" regulatory approval documents.
Q: What made you realize that writing was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
I began writing stories and poems when I was five, and I hope to return to fiction writing someday. However, throughout my professional roles in finance, marketing, and holistic health, I have had ample opportunity to write—but always "on the side" of other job tasks. I enjoyed writing and saw that clear communications always produced better outcomes. So, I decided to focus full-time on writing and communications. As a first step to a full-time writing career, I enrolled in the MSPW program to start realizing my goal.
Q: Talk about how the MSPW helped shape who you are as a writing professional. Any specific mentors, books, or experiences that stand out?
Nearly five years after completing the MSPW program, I still use what I learned in my coursework every day in my communications consulting business. My MSPW professors' hands-on approach, backed by sound theory, shaped my writing abilities into relevant, marketable skills. As a consultant, clients often ask, "Can you ...?" Because of my MSPW training, I say, "Yes, I can!"
Q: What advice would you give to a professional writer interested in a career like yours?
Professional Writing is an art with science behind it. Concise writing that engages readers and spurs them into action is in high demand, no matter the industry. As a Communications Consultant, your writing skills can help clients reach their goals more effectively and efficiently. Also, you can choose to focus in an area that interests you. For example, many of my clients have something to do with natural health, one of my favorite topics. Or you might work with clients in an unfamiliar industry, which provides excellent research opportunities. My first consulting job after the MSPW program was Executive Director for a non-profit. My professional communication skills combined with solid research helped me lead well and learn even more.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Thank you for the opportunity to share how the MSPW program helped me to transform a passion for writing into a professional communication career. I'm so glad I took that first step in applying to the program. Now, instead of writing "on the side" of my job, writing is my job, and I love it!