This article is part of the “Write For” series, a collection of writings produced by the University of Central Arkansas Department of Writing to highlight incredible organizations that rely on professional writers. To learn more about Professional Writing and the opportunities it offers graduates, click here.
There are people who pride themselves in being unofficial city tour guides. They know where all the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants are. They have memorized the fastest routes to the hospital, and they know the layout of the public library like the back of their hand. They truly love their city and the opportunity to share this affection with others who may be a little “out of the loop.” If you have Professional Writing skills and happen to be an unofficial tour guide of Conway, Ark., then you might feel right at home working at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.
Conway’s Chamber of Commerce works to highlight local businesses and civic organizations. Adena White, director of communications, said that getting the word out about member businesses involves “a lot of content creation” in the form of both printed and digital materials.
The Chamber of Commerce releases two print publications through its publishing arm, Conway Publications Inc. The Faulkner County Business Journal is a monthly periodical that is distributed by the Log Cabin Democrat, Conway’s daily newspaper. The Chamber’s other publication is the Conway Resource Guide, an annual booklet brimming with information on local businesses, nonprofit organizations and attractions.
White said all the content for these publications is produced by Chamber of Commerce writers, who do everything from interview business owners to take photos that accompany text. White said it is important for writers working on the publications to analyze their audiences and know “when you can be serious and when you can have fun.” She explained that writers can take an energetic, personal approach when writing the resource guide, but they must be more straight-laced and professional when writing for the business journal.
Elise Williams, a Professional Writing major at the University of Central Arkansas, contributed to both the business journal and the resource guide during her six-month internship with the Chamber of Commerce. Williams said she learned that there isn’t any room for a “lone wolf” on the organization’s staff of seasoned content creators. “I’ve definitely learned to work with a team and how to conduct myself professionally in a business setting.” White also emphasized the importance of writers conducting themselves professionally, saying that writers’ behavior–positive or negative–reflects back on the community’s business members.
In addition to writers’ printed work, there are also a number of opportunities for digital contributions. White said that text on the Chamber’s website is constantly being updated, much like the organization’s robust social media presence that spans Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google + and YouTube. It comes as no surprise that the ability to prioritize is valued at the Chamber of Commerce, because a writer could easily get overwhelmed with so many different projects.
As far as skills are concerned, professional writers interested in working for the Chamber should be familiar with Microsoft Word, because Word files are how business journal stories are submitted to the Log Cabin Democrat. The Chamber of Commerce uses Associated Press style–an editing style generally used by newspapers–in many of its documents, so picking up a copy of the AP Stylebook wouldn’t hurt. Because there are many photos involved in the production of the Chamber’s publications, the ability to use photo-editing software like Gimp or Adobe Photoshop is valuable. Writers should also be comfortable using search engines, because interviews with business owners occasionally contain jargon, industry-specific language that must be defined for readers.
If you like the idea of collaborating with a close-knit team to tell the stories of your community’s business and civic leaders, here’s good news for you: Working as a professional writer for an organization like the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce would make your role as an unofficial city tour guide much more official.