Design + policy + communications: what colour is my parachute?
January 18, 2009 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Graphic Designers / Commercial Artists, Social Policy People, PR/Communications Professionals: where do your professions overlap?

I'm currently working my way through the What Colour is Your Parachute exercises, and have had some interesting and unexpected results. Where I'm a bit stuck is finding the "overlap" between particular fields of interest.

Can anyone suggest roles where the above-mentioned fields overlap? Bonus points if you can explain how to get there!

The only one I can come up with, is an in-house communications officer, who also designs posters/pamphlets etc, for some kind of non-profit organisation or policy advocacy group. Which, by the way, would be ideal. But since I have little practical experience - though lots of interest - in these fields, I'm assuming there must be many more options?

(Am I being too literal in doing these exercises?? Any advice welcome!)
posted by Weng to Work & Money (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I work for a state agency where I do almost exactly what you described. Depending on the causes you believe in, working in government may offer the opportunities you seek, especially small offices where people do multiple jobs. Most people with my job title in my state do very similar work.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:21 PM on January 18, 2009

Best answer: Design for Change is the most straight-up version of what you're looking for.

As for the more typical position, there are design/adv/marketing agencies for every niche, including politics. Make a list of state politicians you like. Make some calls. Find out what firm each one is using for communications. There will probably be a few different ones that come up, but with a big enough sample size, you'll see what firms hold that niche. Then do everything you can to get a job at those firms.

After you have a little bit of work in your portfolio, you can shop it around for party positions to get on staff doing it full time.

Otherwise, you can take a similar route for advocacy orgs. Most firms do pro bono work for "good causes." Get some of that work to build up a portfolio of "social design." Then hit up the larger advocacy groups that might have in-house comm folks.

Good luck.
posted by ochenk at 10:37 PM on January 18, 2009

I work for a blood bank (non-profit) and I basically do exactly what you describe. I was hired as PR Manager and did typical PR stuff, as well as media buying, creating marketing materials and helping with promotions. I recently transitioned to doing strictly promotions/marketing and we hired someone new to do PR and Media Buying but I am still involved in that peripherally.

This is my first "real" job. I'd spent a lot of time doing promotions and management at my college radio station, and I had an internship doing non-profit development but no "official" experience.
posted by radioamy at 8:07 AM on January 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks guys! Foam Pants and radioamy - so are you actually "Communications Officers"? Did you get a Communications degree in order to do your current job? Did you train separately in design, or pick up the skills in your own time? Just curious! Cheers :-)
posted by Weng at 3:25 PM on January 19, 2009

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