April 1, 2011 2:54 AM   Subscribe

Writing Portfolios: WAT?

A bevy of questions about writing portfolios:
- How many pieces does the ideal portfolio have?
- Obviously, things that have garnered acclaim or achieved something are to be included. But say you've got space left over. What else goes in?
- Say a document has a weird format -- ex: I wrote up a detailed application for a client to win an award. Do I include it, or is it too esoteric?
- Is there an expiration date on a portfolio? (If I create things, and five years later I use them to apply for a job, do they still matter?)
- Bonus snowflake: you're hiring for a marketing/PR position. What do you want to see from them?

I guess it was just five... but thanks, MeFi.
posted by the NATURAL to Work & Money (2 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think all of these depend on the kind of thing you want to do with the portfolio. Is it to find a full time journalism job? To get freelance work? To get into a school? To get a full time job that involves technical, PR or grant writing? And so on.

For instance, to get into a graduate school nobody would care if you included old pieces (or didn't indicate when you wrote something). To get freelance work, they probably would.

It sounds like these are all press release type of stuff in order to get a marketing job? In that case these are my estimations based mostly on applying for these jobs (not hiring for them).

1. 4-5
2. Stuff that you really like that is short.
3. Include it if you think it's clear that it showcases your talent for creative promotional language.
4. More than 5 years old is probably too old.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:53 AM on April 1, 2011

Best answer: Other people are going to chime in but here are the ROUGH things I would expect to see in a portfolio:
  • Cover page, table of content, resume
  • Solo work and team projects including brief description that includes title of piece, client/audience, applications used and the role you played
  • Writing and editing samples (clearly show your editing work by using before/after)
  • Professionally printed or published pieces, if available
It is all about the audience analysis. You need to target a portfolio to the particular audience that will be reviewing it. Do not kitchen sink it. Let me emphasize that again, DO NOT KITCHEN SINK IT. The interview portfolio needs to be focused and RELEVANT.

Here is what I would expect to see in a traditional PR portfolio -- special emphasis on the writing samples:
  • PR Plan
  • Media/event plan
  • Crisis plan
  • press release
  • newsletter
  • feature story
  • speech script with AV support
  • VNR script
Now the composition of what I just listed COMPLETELY depends on what your would be future employer does and expects you to write. Research the place and figure out what they DO produce and produce samples in those genres. They do catalogs? Well, produce a catalog example. Wow, lots of web writing? My friend, your web writing samples are now part of your portfolio. You get the idea.

Your portfolio needs to speak for you when you are not there and help you as an artifact when you are interviewing. It is a controlled narrative, not a collection of "stuff".

I will be interested to hear the input of other folks. I am in a rush, so this is off the top of my head. So I apologize for gaps, that I am sure that others will fill.
posted by jadepearl at 7:41 AM on April 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

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