Newsletter Helped Sell Curriculum

I wrote this newsletter for a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sales team when a product called Go Math! was launched. The goal was to educate the team about the product in a way that they would be fun and memorable, so that they could then sell the product. The challenge of the job was that there were many different aspects of the products that needed to be explained in a simple but compelling way. They also requested that the project be written in a tone that “tabloid-y”.

I approached the project by doing extensive research about the program and its elements by culling through dozens of studies and documents that the client provided. Since the sales team was selling the product to teachers and administrators, from this mass of information, I looked for anything that could explain how the program helped teachers and administrators do their jobs more easily and more effectively. Then, I came up with a list of about 10 topics that could be written about that would be the sales team’s talking points.

I also researched what Common Core was and why they would want to incorporate it into their curriculum, since at the time, Common Core wasn’t widely known or understood. That way, I could include information about why it was important that the new program met Common Core standards.I then read a number of tabloid stories online and wrote down words and phrases that were used, which helped me to set the tone when I started writing. I wrote separate stories on each topic, which were then transformed into three newsletters for the sales team at a series of sales presentations.

Afterward, the client told me that it was “a smash success” and they were so happy with it that they wrote me into their marketing plan the following year.

Cover Story Won Award

For this cover story, my editor asked me to explore the question: In a world where everyone strives to be succeed, encouraging, and positive, has it become taboo to fail? I was also asked to cover both the philosophies and the science of failure; how people cope with failure; the consequences of fearing failure; what we learn from failing; and success and failure in education.

The most challenging –but also fun part — was figuring out how to include all of the requirements, while giving some focus to the article and making it come out as a cohesive story that took the reader through a journey. Another interesting aspect of the assignment was that I needed to make it all tie back to the target audience of faculty members (the article was for Faculty Matters Magazine).

I started tackling this story with research, lots of research! I was already interested in some research by Carol Dwek on the concept of mindset and how it helps people succeed, so I started with that. I then went on to read more articles in the field of positive psychology. Then I found professors across the country who have done research in both education and positive psychology. I spoke to four of them and read dozens of articles. Next, I went to work creating an interesting hook—I used The Tiger mom as a lead in anecdote because it was a timely topic. Finally, I tackled writing the story, incorporating all of the information I had gathered. To do so, I broke the story into manageable subtopics.

The result was that the article was received incredibly well, generated a lot of discussion, and even won the top award for article writing given by the Hermes Creative Awards, an international competition for creative professionals.

Press Releases Got National Press

I was working as a copywriter for a PR firm that needed someone who could produce a about 10 releases a month for IDW Publishing, which is a graphic novel and comic book publishing company. They asked me to do it because they knew I could approach each release with a unique spin and creativity. … Read more

Turned Notes into a Cover Story

I wrote dozens of stories for Scholastic Inc., both for their online news site and for magazines that went to classrooms. This story was one I wrote for Scholastic Scope, which has a goal of providing non-fiction stories that will fascinate, inspire, and challenge students. After an editor at Scholastic interviewed Whoopi Goldberg, I was … Read more