September 28, 2022

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Arriving Late to the Meme Party!

Arriving Late to the Meme Party!

Nothing like being fashionably late! I was tagged in this meme almost a week ago, but I couldn’t just let it slide without adding my contribution.

Ike Pigott tagged me to participate in a meme started by Kami Huyse that begged the question, who has had the greatest influence on your career, and why?

Perhaps a good excuse for my tardiness is that I really had to think on this one for a while. After all, I’m still young (if I do say so myself), and having only been out of college a few years, my career path has been rather varied. I’ve had three major employers, all quite different, and even took a “year off” at one point in which I worked a series of temp jobs in an effort to figure out where I wanted to end up.

The only constant in my career has been writing. Regardless of what kind of job I was working, I’ve relied on my writing and editing skills to set myself apart. Even during my in-between year, I always blogged or wrote privately to keep those skills sharp—I knew that no matter what I ended up doing, keeping my writing game intact would be essential. So who had the biggest influence on my writing?

That’s easy: Jeanne Provencher, my 11thgrade AP English Composition teacher. Up until I arrived in her class, teachers had gone out of their way to inform me that I was a “gifted” writer. My essays were always read aloud in class, I always won the Young Author awards, I always got A’s (I am aware how fully obnoxious this sounds, but just wait). AP English Composition? “Hmph,” I thought, “that’ll be an easy A for my college applications!”

The first thing Mrs. Provencher taught me was that I knew nothing about good writing. Nothing.My grammar was pathetic, my sentence structure weak, my paragraphs nonsensical and my transitions nonexistent. Don’t even get me started on comma splices, passive voice and dangling modifiers. I got a C- on my first paper, and almost stayed after class to tell her she’d made a horrible mistake. I couldn’t believe I had failed at the one thing at which I’d always excelled.

Seeing that paper covered in red was a wake-up call that perhaps I still had quite a bit to learn about the written word. I ended up working harder for her than I would for any teacher before or since, snagging an A on the biggest research paper of the year and never forgetting that no matter how much I write, there’s always room for improvement.

We sing the virtues of better writing in public relations quite a bit on this blog, so it’s only appropriate that I single out my favorite writing teacher as the person with the greatest influence on my work thus far.

As for the meme, let’s keep it going! I tag Nathan Burke, Kait Swanson, and Christi Eubanks to join in—I want to hear what other young voices have to say.

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    Kami Huyse

    I had a writing teacher like your Jeanne Provencher. His name was Bill Ambron and he kicked my butt. I learned more about writing and English from him in one year than in my entire educational experience up to that point. He also was my drama teacher. He was from New York and had that famed NY temperament. Someday I will tell you the story of when I was late for play practice, suffice it to say that I never was late again – ever! Of course that was long ago – unlike you I can’t say I am still pretty young. Thanks for the memories.

    Chuck Sink

    The YouTube Mac/PC ad is very effective. What stereotype? The fact that an attractive person would be in a PR role?
    Too many of us are going mad by losing creativity and truth in expression.

    Essay Writing

    My heart broke when i heard this: I couldn’t believe I had failed at the one thing at which I’d always excelled.
    You are a good writer, i can see it from this post and i an secretly wishing that i had the same chance.

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