That PR seminar for laid-off Star staff

Dateline: Sun 03 Jul 2011

More than 40 former Indianapolis Star writers, copy editors and others attended a seminar Saturday designed to help newspaper talent cross the bridge from daily journalism into public relations. (See earlier post).

Kevin Corcoran, one of the organizers and a former government/courts and investigative reporter (both News and Star) who now works for Lumina Foundation, said Star people who had lost their jobs seemed "moved by the level of support from former staffers and folks like (PR gurus) Lou Gerig and Erik Johnson," who volunteered their time to offer coaching and strategies.

The organizers themselves, Corcoran said, are especially happy about the creation of an online resource area for sharing advice and job tips -- "and this at least gets the ball rolling."

As for the future of such confabs, Corcoran foresees one-on-one advising sessions among the unemployed and those who have moved on. Judy Cebula (onetime reporter/religion writer at the News and the Star) and Marc Allan (former Star cops, music critic, TV critic, features writer and former Guild president) are planning an event utilizing the career services of Butler University, where both are employed.

"I'm sure there will be other programming in some form," added Corcoran.

On a side note, on Sunday I ran into a former Star investigative reporter who now has her own PR firm. She believes that there are plenty of opportunities in the PR field in this city  -- that is the very good news -- but the biggest obstacle for many journalists may be that, in PR, you must sell yourself and your services.  Most reporters/editors don't think in those terms, and many are uncomfortable with the whole sales concept, she said.

But when it comes to paying bills, keeping oneself and one's family afloat, and retaining or regaining self-esteem in the workforce, young dogs learn new tricks.

At a personal level, a former Star critic and I often discussed the twinideas that all work inherently has dignity, as long as you are not doing something unethical, and less is more ("Buy the least expensive house you can," he advised when I moved back to the city from Putnam County and the quarry.) I retired from the newspaper at age 59 1/2, and I was very happy to go, having seen the writing in CCI etc. about the grim future, and simultaneously hearing the seductive cries of grandchildren.

But despite Social Security and a pension, and my husband's retirement income, and living modestly, we have experienced occasional "cash flow" problems. My take: please don't be embarrassed to take a job that seems less than, because, in my experience, those jobs can be richly rewarding and horizon-broadening.

I've sold bird seed at a farmer's market, sold Oberweis milk door to door, been a picker for antiques and other rare finds, etc., and run a moderately successful antiques booth/business at Midland Arts and Antiques...that adds up to quite a bit retail. I also (mainly) do child care enrichment for members of my church parish, which has been extremely gratifying. Oh, and I walk the neighbors' dogs and care for them when the neighbors are on the road, plus the occasional cat. This too is satisfying, although dogs' hours stink. (Out and about their business by 7 a.m. in an ideal dog world).

The down time when I'm not pulling 40 hours allows some freedom for creative writing and this blog, as well as living a life. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but if you are of an age to collect some retirement benefits, you can supplement without too much sweat.

However, if you're pre-retirement age, "strap on your leather balls," as a friend said, and go get that job. Journalists have amazing skills that many companies are grateful to get. Believe in yourself.

Best of luck to everyone in the market right now, espcially those who are newly let go and feeling the pain.

As many of us have said, there is good life after the Star.




Tell The Truth [Member] said:

The polite professional term for some of us, who are post-55, is "life adjustment."

One fact smacks me right between the eyes on a regular, weekly basis: there is almost no respect in most of corporate America, for anyone over 50. They find various ways to say it, but it all adds up to the same bullshit.

Thank God for other activities, and enough career experience to get random odd-jobs thrown my way.

And grandchildren help make it all worthwhile.

I keep telling myself, that God has a plan. Right now, He's developing it. Very slowly. And if patience is truly virtue, well, then, I've become a virgin again.

In almost every sense of the word.

2011-07-03 19:41:47

ruthholl [Member] said:

Virgin Again -- great name for those of us seeking new opportunities. I call my little child biz "Earth Needs Grandmas." (Thank you, Guy, for coming up with a name worthy of a PR operative).
Best to you TTT in all your many endeavors. As we said in the '60s, keep the faith, man.

2011-07-03 20:07:34

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Faith I got. Family and love I got.

60s-style, Ozzie/Harriet employment, I DON"T got. So be it. It's their loss.

Earth needs grandpas, too.

And evidently civil libertarians are in short supply. Judging by our last legislative session. Pay is lousy, but rewards are eternal.

2011-07-03 21:34:34

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Very enlightening and helpfully transparent comments by both Ruth and TTT.

Ruth, about this:

"I've sold bird seed at a farmer's market, sold Oberweis milk door to door, been a picker for antiques and other rare finds, etc., and run a moderately successful antiques booth/business at Midland Arts and Antiques...."

Ruth, you have the kind of gumption and optimism that I don't see in many 25-year-olds. Bless your heart.

For my wife and I (both near our sixth decades of living), the big 800-pound gorilla in the room is health insurance coverage.

If you don't mind me asking, how do you deal with that issue? Is it part of your pension and/or your husband's?

2011-07-03 23:35:41

ruthholl [Member] said:

Thank you, Whitebeard. Kind words, high praise. Unworthy, but again, thanks.
I still have my Anthem coverage thru Gannett; about half of my pension goes for that benefit. ($450 or so a month). Guy is a veteran so he has VA. So far, so good. VA has a lot of services. If a veteran is compliant, then that person gets what he/she needs. Gotta keep your appointments, take your drugs, all that.
When I turn 65, Medicare will kick in.
It is a huge problem, however, for all of us: prescription medicine is expensive, and so a fair amount is out of pocket. Plus my Anthem coverage does not include dental or eye care.
I think for many of the younger former Star employees, who do not receive a pension, they have a more difficult time.
No easy answers!

2011-07-03 23:47:32

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