By Mikinzie Stuart and Joe Aymor
In the current economic condition, it’s hard to find a job that you really enjoy doing; many people have been forced to find any job that offers a steady paycheck. However, Sandy Gholston has taken his passion for writing and turned it into something that not only helps pay the bills, but something that he looks forward to when he wakes up in the morning.
What He Does
Sandy helps market the Ferris State University and works with admissions to position the university in a positive light to media outlets. He tells the university’s story, handles media relations, and works with media outlets. He also manages FSU’s social media sites, such as Facebook and twitter.
Where He is Published
- Crimson and Gold (now Ferris Magazine) Alumni magazine
- Points of Pride Newsletter
- News articles about the university and campus on the FSU homepage
- FSU News Services web page
- The FSU blog
- The FSU athletics blog
- Freelance sports articles for various newspapers and magazines
Where He was Educated
Ferris State University
- Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Studies
- Bachelor’s degree in History
His Professional Pathway
Sandy started writing in college for the Ferris State Torch. He went on to work at The Pioneer Press [Big Rapids, Michigan] part-time, where he was hired into a full-time position 9 months later. After proving his abilities at The Pioneer, he was hired by FSU Marketing and Communications, where he works now. “Creative writing led to professional writing,” he said.
Why He Writes
Sandy found his passion for writing while attending FSU. To get his feet wet in the profession, he read a lot of newspapers and sports journalism, an area in which he was interested. Knowing it was something he wanted to do, he applied at the Torch student-run newspaper.
While in college, Sandy switched his major multiple times: Recreation Leadership and Management, Journalism, History, Education, History, and graduated in Integrated Studies. Currently, Sandy is obtaining another undergraduate degree in History.
How Technology has Affected Technical Writing
Sandy explains that today’s technology makes everything, including multitasking at work, a lot easier compared to a few years ago: “It was 1998 and I was at the NCAA Softball National Championships reporting. I had to write the whole thing in long hand and fax it in to the office. I would be back in the office transmitting and producing photos from black and white film, writing one or more stories, answering phones, laying out pages, writing some more and developing photos.”
Memorable Mentors and Inspirations
While working for The Pioneer, Sandy looked to the other experienced writers for mentorship. His relationships with these writers gave way to open discourse about the good and bad sides of the journalist profession: “There is a ‘thin skin’ stereotype of journalists when it comes to criticism about their writing. I would talk to them to get perspective,” he said.
“Writing for me was a way to express myself and be creative. I really liked sports and I liked writing, so I tried to put the two together. My inspiration really came from within,” he said.
How He made the Transition
When looking back on making the transition from journalism to marketing and public relations, Sandy said it “was a little difficult going from being in the news industry trying to get the information to being an advocate of the university trying to get the information out.”
“When writing news, you tend to look deeper into the story; give a deeper explanation. Marketing writing is short and to the point in order to get attention. Leave them hanging so they seek out more information,” he said.
A Word of Advice
“The best way to improve your writing is to read, a lot. Stay informed. Read not only for style, but for content as well. Also, find outlets to do your own writing, such as blogging. I didn’t have that when I was back in college,” says Sandy. “Freelancing is another good way to get your foot in the door, get recognition, and make a little money on the side,” he said.
A Day in the Life
Sandy spends 8 am to 9 am trying to wake up, usually using coffee or yogurt in order to do that. Next he reads newspapers and websites for mention of FSU and to stay current. Then he goes to staff meetings throughout the rest of the morning. The beginning of the week starts out with potential article ideas and then he tries to complete those over the course of the week. The rest of the morning, Sandy spends time writing stories and handling media relations.
In the afternoon, he will update blogs and social media sites. Then he’s on to more writing and the FSU public affairs TV show—working with TV students to get groundwork. He’ll wrap up any loose ends at the end of the day and then go home around 5 pm.