AWAI Member Uses Persuasion Skills to Land Local News Spot

When the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency needed help getting the word out about their new campaign to remove idling cars and buses from places at schools where the air pollution would affect kids, teachers, and administrators, they turned to AWAI member Shawn Maus, who had a reputation as “an idea guy.”

Shawn is Communications Coordinator and Webmaster (and former Theatre Director) for Finneytown Local School District in Cincinnati, Ohio. He’s responsible for public and media relations for the district, as well as website design and content.

“They wanted a TV segment, but none of the local news stations were biting. I suggested pitching it as a weather-related story,” explains Shawn. “At the time it was late summer/early fall and back-to-school time, and I knew that the local meteorologist at our most popular news station was looking to branch out to do some reporting in addition to the weather on air. His producers didn't bite at first, but we kept going back and refining the pitch.”

Shawn credits the persuasion skills he learned through AWAI for finally convincing the station to do a report. But his work didn’t stop once the reporter was on the scene. Shawn was interviewed on-camera for the story and …

“When the meteorologist arrived and only wanted an interview, I suggested some ‘shots’ to enhance the interview — ‘B roll,’” explains Shawn. “The next thing I knew I was holding the iPhone for him to do his stand-up!”

And it doesn’t stop there …

“The ‘powers that be’ saw the story when it aired here locally and asked if I'd help with the upcoming PR/marketing and event planning for the rollout of the Straight A grant, which I helped write and is awarded by the Ohio Department of Education,” says Shawn. “Lo and behold, part of the grant involves working with music artist Usher and his foundation! So now, I've got even more great news!”

A member since 2002, Shawn had started his copywriting education with the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. He had originally planned to go with full-time freelancing as a career change; but the school district liked his approach and ideas, so they created the communications position to keep him on as a full-time employee. He still wanted to keep his copy skills updated and learn more so he became an Infinity Member.

Over the years, he’s taken advantage of being able to get many AWAI programs and resources to bone up on niches like the health market in the course of doing his job. Shawn also does freelance projects on the side. He currently markets his freelance services mostly on LinkedIn but also has a good business network to draw on for clients. As if all this weren’t enough, he’s also an in-demand speaker for professional organizations he belongs to on subjects like communication in the digital world, public relations, customer service, and video making/marketing. He plans to do more freelancing in 2015 and is redesigning his freelance website with help from Nick Usborne’s program How to Build Your Freelance Website in Four Days.

Still, working with the local news station and calling attention to this important issue has been a thrill, as was landing another big project based on his effective and top-notch work.

“To have an outside agency partner with the school (and launch the campaign here) and have my ideas picked up, not only by the news but also by the agency, was really exciting. It validated a lot for me,” Shawn says. “It wasn't about ‘just the job.’ It was about finally being able to have the courage to step outside of my ‘job’ and consult on a project that came to fruition because of my vision.”

Way to use your copywriting and persuasion skills to excel at your job and get some serious glicken, Shawn!

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Published: December 19, 2014

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