Starting this Spring, Simon Mullin will be joining the MS in Professional Writing to teach our core course: Document Design and Data Storytelling. Simon is an award-winning copywriter and creative director from Portland, Oregon– but has called New York City his home for the past two decades. An alum of NYU’s College of Arts & Science, where he studied politics and gender & sexuality, Simon’s 13+ years in marketing span leadership roles at a number of agencies and in-house studios across New York, including American Express, Martha Stewart Living, Showtime, NYCEDC, AOL, L’Oreal, and more. As an educator, Simon looks forward to sharing his learnings as a professional writer to empower students with the applied knowledge, digital skills, and best practices they can use to succeed in their careers. Learn more about Simon in the short interview below!
Q: What drew you into writing in the marketing and advertising field?
A: The short answer: by rebranding, persistence, and a little bit of luck. The Great Recession in 2009 was a turning point for undergraduates in my year, and I –like so many others– had to rethink and reinvent my path in a job market where careers in my area of study were growing increasingly limited. So, leveraging the writing skills I had developed during my studies at NYU, I rebranded myself (and my resume) as a marketing copywriter, and found my first job as an e-commerce writer for a design brand in the Upper East Side. From roles in SEO writing and web content to email marketing and advertising, I continued to grow my career at a number of agencies in the city, taking on more managerial and director-level roles over the years. Creative director-turned-educator is an exciting turn for me, and I look forward to teaching the skills I wish I had known early in my career to this talented class of burgeoning professional writers.
Q: In teaching this core course, what are you looking forward to the most?
A: My goal is to share some of the practical and applied knowledge that new professional writers need in this ever-evolving career path, so students can begin their careers with a solid foundation. That is, I want them to start with the knowledge and skills I had to learn along the way. The point of the course is to help students develop their writing skills with an eye for design, which will be valuable to companies and clients after they graduate, so I want students to be excited about the meaningful work we do in the course.
Q: What's one skill that you've found to be important in your career?
A: Great question– but there are two important skills I want to hone in on. First, it is important to write in a way that is engaging and easily digestible. The ability to craft clear, concise, and direct copy is a skill that takes practice. Second, one has to know how their writing informs and impacts the design of the medium in which they write. Understanding that writing operates within a medium’s format, structure, user experience, and more is key. Both of these skills are about keeping your target audience in mind when writing. Writers should always ask themselves, “What do you want people to know? How do you want them to feel? And, for most business writers, what do you want them to do?”
Q: What is your favorite slogan?
A: “Write fearlessly. Edit ruthlessly.” It hits on the two stages of writing that are equally critical: ideation and editing. Like any art, both stages need to be engaged fully if you want to get to an impactful result.
Q: What else should students know about you?
A: One thing that students should know about me is that outside the work of the classroom and my career, I have two great loves (besides my wife and cat): sports and history. A die-hard fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bears, my evenings and weekends often consist of coaching these teams (read: yelling at the TV) from the comfort of my couch or from the stands when they come to town. I’m also an avid reader of history, from books on Middle Ages Byzantium to my favorite magazine, Archaeology. And this year, I got to put my history-nerdiness into action: for our honeymoon in October 2023, my wife and I embarked on a two-week archaeological adventure to Egypt, fulfilling a years-long dream to see the wonders of the ancient world.
I also want students to know that I’m just as excited to be leading this class as I hope they are to be in it! This online course is going to focus on collaboration, ideation, and professional growth, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside them.
Please join us in welcoming Simon Mullin to the MSPW Teaching Team this Spring!