Educating Communications Professionals

OUTdrive episode 53: Educating Communications Professionals with Dr. Joe Moore

OUTdrive Episode 53 with Joe Moore

The communications industry is constantly changing, and educators are adapting curriculum to meet the needs of employers. In this episode of OUTdrive, I visit with Dr. Joe Moore about educating today’s communications professionals.

Joe is a professor of digital media production at the University of Central Missouri and he is passionate about teaching the next generation. With over 16 years of experience in the industry, Joe recognizes changes in the industry and adapts to prepare students to enter the job market. Whether it is writing a piece for a print newspaper or directing a film, students develop a diverse skill set during their time at UCM.

Keep reading to get a behind-the-scenes look at educating today’s communications professionals, how job preparedness starts in the classroom and transferable skills for success in life and work.

Preparing Students for Communications Jobs

The communications sector continues to grow and evolve, and professionals are challenged with keeping up. For example, one story printed in a newspaper is also shared online, posted on social media and potentially turned into a video. Direct mail is integrating with digital marketing, and integrations continue to expand. It is a challenge for professionals in the industry, but how do students prepare to enter the complex job market? Joe provides his perspective on the importance of cross-platform education and training for future professionals.

“In my area, there is a lot more cross-platform [education],” said Joe. “In a journalism class, we’re going to teach you how to write for print. But we’re also going to teach you how to write for broadcast, then go record it. And we’re going to teach you how to edit videos as well as edit your printed copy.”

Teaching a variety of skills helps students be more well-rounded. It prepares them to take on a variety of roles and learn how all parts of a project work together. This means a more comprehensive learning experience and sets students apart during job searches.

“Students have to be more well-rounded and they have to be able to communicate across platforms,” said Joe. “Most outlets are not looking just for one thing. Television stations have a website, so if you write a news package, you’re going to have to come back and write it for the website. A lot of radio stations are streaming sporting events, concerts and graduations. So you need to have some video background to be able to do that.”

Employers look for a diverse skill set when hiring employees, and potential employees that can meet these needs are extremely valuable. Classes focus on specific industry skills, but students learn many other skills as well.

Transferable Skills in Education

Educators understand the importance of transferable skills, and Joe works hard to prepare his students for any challenge. He explains that the true value of education is learning how to adapt and work in different situations.

“We tell them, ‘Look, we’re telling you the tried and true standard way of doing things’,” said Joe. “‘But you’re going to go work for Callis & Associates or somebody else, and they’re going to have a different plan. They’re going to have a different way of doing things. They want to see that you’ve got the right attitude, that you want to learn and grow and that you have a work ethic. That’s what you’ve really got to figure out here.’”

A willingness to learn carries over into any job, and a positive attitude and strong work ethic are invaluable. As an agency owner, Cliff shares his perspective on how education continues after traditional school.

“Everybody does it differently,” said Cliff. “There are best practices and there are principles, but really you go to college to learn how to learn. And to prepare yourself to get out and get a job. Then you start the real learning.”

Establishing strong processes is a valuable skill that carries over into the workforce. The process may change when an employee starts a new job, but it’s vital to learn where to start. Students may identify big picture ideas and end goals, but educators like Joe emphasize the importance of the steps it takes to reach the goals.

“We really stress the process over product,” said Joe. “If you can do the process, then the product is going to be fine. But if you’re just aimed at that product, at the end, you don’t even know where to start. That’s what we’re here for, to teach you how to learn, how to get started and then how to follow the steps to completion.”

Educators help build the foundation, but it’s up to students to continue building their skills and learning how to adapt to different situations. Employers can help foster this learning by providing resources and guidance, but it’s a team effort that requires an integrated approach.

Skills for Success in Life and Work

Families and influences outside of work and education also play an important role in building skills. Joe shares his thoughts on skills for success in life, work and education. He credits his family and coaches for teaching him valuable life lessons. As an educator, he tries to instill the same values and skills in his students.

“Hard work will win out every time ability and skill is going to wane,” said Joe. “If you’re used to relying on your knowledge and you don’t try and continue to improve, the world is going to pass you by. So you’ve got to keep working, you’ve got to keep grinding.”

A strong work ethic is key, and so is a sense of curiosity. Asking questions and understanding the reasoning behind things is a valuable skill for any team member. Whether you are a college student or have been in the industry for 30 years, it is never a bad time to ask questions. Joe shares that this generation is curious and wants to solve problems.

“This generation wants to ask why, but it’s not because they’re being obstinate or disrespectful.” said Joe. “They want to know why. They want to understand more, because they see issues in the world that they want to help be a part of the solution. Well, you can’t be part of the solution if you don’t ask the questions.”

The Heart Behind Education

Although students asking numerous questions can be challenging, Joe loves encouraging students to learn and explore new things. This excitement is what fuels his passion for educating.

“I really enjoy seeing the light bulb come on for students,” said Joe. “I get a kick out of that, when something finally connects. It’s not hard, what we do. You know, we’re not splitting atoms. We’re not trying to put a rover on Mars or anything like that. But it’s tedious. It’s time consuming. There’s lots of little parts that go into digital media production, and seeing it all come together for them, that’s a professor’s dream”

Having spent over 16 years in the field of sports information, Joe also thrives off of the interaction with others. As a professor, he loves the connections he is able to make with students and the chances to learn and discuss in person. COVID-19 impacted classes but Joe is excited to get back in the classroom and continue educating the next generation of communications professionals.

Tune in to this episode of OUTdrive to get a behind-the-scenes look at education and hear more from Cliff and Joe about preparing students for the workforce.