Tresa Chambers is an August 2008 graduate of the MS in Publishing program. Tresa began her career working as an Editorial Assistant at Time Magazine and was promoted to Reporter/Researcher covering business, national affairs and international news. While passionate about magazine publishing, Tresa spent time working in children’s book publishing in the Licensing division of Parachute Press where she worked with Scholastic on the Goosebumps brand, before returning to magazine marketing at Reader’s Digest where she worked in integrated marketing and was the Publishing Director of Your Family, a special interest publication. Tresa also spent time in consumer marketing at a newspaper in south Florida and ran an arts-based family literacy program in Miami before deciding to return to New York to attend Pace. Tresa received a full scholarship to the MS in Publishing program at Pace and served as the Graduate Assistant in the multimedia lab while she completed her graduate studies. In this interview, Tresa will tell us about her journey as a publishing professional and share her thoughts about the opportunities in the digital age.
Prof. Denning: Hi Tresa and thank you for agreeing to do this interview. It has been four years since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program. What have you been doing professionally and personally since then?
Tresa: I completed the program just as the publishing industry was beginning massive layoffs. I was looking for a marketing position and I was overqualified for entry-level positions that might have been available, so I accepted a position in branding at a tech company called Rovi. I’ve been there ever since. I’ve also been working on a memoir that I plan to complete next year.
Prof. Denning: How has the publishing industry changed since you began your career? What was the work environment like then, as opposed to now, in terms of job opportunities? Do you feel that there is more awareness about brand building and marketing specialists now?
Tresa: It’s exciting to see that publishing is evolving in unexpected ways. I believe that publishing is and has always been the creation, distribution and promotion of content across all platforms. I have worked in both magazine publishing and book publishing and I have always found the industry exciting because it’s more than writing and editing books and magazines. My publishing career has spanned editorial, marketing, licensing and merchandising which provided me with great skills and experience to be able to add value at a tech company. Coming from a publishing background has created an intrinsic understanding of what branding is about. The demand for brand specialists is definitely growing.
Prof. Denning: How did your educational experience at Pace prepare you for your career? Which crucial skills do you still use today?
Tresa: I have worked at a company that has grown through mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. I had no idea how helpful the Mergers & Acquisitions course with Prof. David Hetherington, would be in giving me perspective on organizational changes that have become a part of the culture of business in publishing, technology and most other industries. The greatest value of the program is that I learned to think like a business executive as much as a creative professional. I also still use my skills from the Magazine Production class. I also grew in recognizing my leadership skills as I worked with classmates on group projects.
Prof. Denning: What was the topic of your thesis paper? What advice would you give to students who still have to write their papers?
Tresa: I created a business plan for a magazine for my thesis. The focus of the magazine was moving, which is based on personal experience. I am passionate about helping people do better. Now, I’m evolving that idea so that it can live online as a blog with video footage and more. I would advise students who are preparing to write or in the process to always be looking for new information and resources that can enhance your topic. Look for ideas in unexpected places and think about what works in what context. The new platforms allow for flexibility in publishing multimedia content, so don’t just think about producing physical pages.
Prof. Denning: Have you always been interested publishing? What made you turn your career path to the digital entertainment industry?
Tresa: I have always loved publishing. I will always write. I am a magazine fiend. I still regularly scan newsstands for new launches and I do the same with online publications and blogs. I will always be an editor. I still get to write and edit, plus I work on different platforms and do strategic work. I also believe that many aspects of the tech business and the publishing industry are converging because of the new platforms for delivering content and the broad use of mobile devices. I will be glad when the publishers realize they are also tech companies and that tech companies realize they are publishers, too. That is my professional sweet spot.
Prof. Denning: What were some of the highlights of your graduate experience?
Tresa: I was the graduate fellow for the M.S. in Publishing lab. I was able to build good relationships with my professors and the program staff that have lasted over the years. I also had great relationships with my classmates.
Prof. Denning: How have you been involved in the program since graduating? How do you feel that your publishing courses prepared you for the digital workplace?
Tresa: I have always sought to contribute to the program in any way I can. I was so glad I worked in the lab and became familiar with the content management system while working on Pace’s website. I use that experience in my current position.
Prof Denning: Can you tell us a bit about your company, Rovi, and what it is like working there? Did you ever think you would become a brand marketing specialist?
Tresa: It’s exciting to work for a global corporation. We have offices all over the U.S., Europe and Asia. I have had the opportunity to travel to many of our offices. We are a business-to-business company, which means that our customers are other businesses and not consumers. I had the rare opportunity to be a part of the team that renamed and rebranded the company. It is challenging to build a new brand when it isn’t marketed to consumers, but it is twice as rewarding to see something I’ve worked on come to fruition. I worked on ads that ran on DirecTV. I worked on an trade show exhibit at South by Southwest. I help with our websites and marketing materials and products. I never thought about doing this work, but it suits me in many ways.
Prof. Denning: Tell us a bit about what your job entails and some of your duties?
Tresa: My specific duties vary widely and change frequently. I am responsible for making sure there is consistency in our brand across all applications including marketing materials, websites, products, advertising, trade show exhibits, facilities and more. I conduct training sessions, create presentations, review and advise colleagues on creative designs and content and frequently offer fresh ideas aimed at resolving a business challenge we’re facing.
Prof. Denning: Do you come across many misconceptions about your field? What would you like students to know?
Tresa: I think it’s important to know that opportunities exist outside of the traditional publishing business and that there are new opportunities in the traditional houses, too. Networking is the most important activity to engage.
Tresa: We use social media to promote our products and to recruit new employees. I am involved in guiding the way we communicate across these different platforms.
Prof. Denning: Taking your educational publishing background into consideration, how do you feel about the ebooks and reading devices “boom?”
Tresa: I believe that publishing needed to innovate and this is the way to do it. I don’t believe that books and magazines are going away in their physical form, but I do believe that technology has created greater opportunity for publishers. I think the business model is still evolving and whoever figures it out will win big. So will readers and writers.
Prof Denning: What do you think the future holds for book publishers? Do you think the launch of ebook readers, iPads and Kindles have changed publishing in a positive or negative way?
Tresa: How could anything that let’s more people read and share content whenever and wherever they want be bad? The opportunities for the industry are great. When I think about potential for more people all over the world getting access to reading materials, I am pleased. I believe that these devices will help promote literacy, and that is something I’m passionate about.
Prof. Denning: What do you think the essential skills our students need to leave the program with in order to succeed in the publishing industry, or any industry for that matter?
Tresa: I believe students of the program are leaders and should be well-equipped with those skills by the time they have completed the program. They should have the option to choose a more technical path, operational path or creative path. They should also recognize that they will be leaders in the industry no matter which path they choose.
Prof. Denning: Did you find it easy to switch your career field from publishing to marketing? How would recent graduates explore other industries with their Masters in Publishing degree?
Tresa: I have worked in marketing in the publishing industry. Marketing is an essential aspect of publishing. Everything I have done fits well together. If someone is exploring opportunities outside of publishing, they should base their search on skills they would like to use. If looking for a job at a company where you think you may be interested in working, remember how that position is described and search for positions with competing companies with similar requirements then make sure your resume reflects the skills that match those openings. I have also found professional organizations and alumni connections invaluable for networking.
Prof. Denning: Any other advice you would like to offer up to our students?
Tresa: Have an idea of what you want to do, but don’t limit yourself. You may find the best opportunity in an unexpected place. I have worked in business-to-business environments, which aren’t as glitzy as working for well-known consumer brands, but there are great opportunities for using your skills and developing them in new ways. A lot of times the benefits and salaries are great, too.
Feel free to follow Tresa on Twitter at @MuseWithMe