Gary James is a professional editor, formatter and writer in Asheville, NC offering full-service book production
In 1983, I landed a job as Continuity Director at a local radio station. It was like working at WKRP In Cincinnati . Complete with a production studio. I wrote 30-40 ads a week. I won my first ADDY award (now the American Advertising Federation awards- why?) at WSPB1450AM-WMLO106.3FM, in Sarasota, FL.
In 1986, the guy who was the FM director was dating a woman who had a fledgling ad agency. She offered me a copywriter position. We won lots of awards and I created a public relations department utilizing what I learned working at Merlin Group, LTD, a theatrical press agency in New York City when I left Holland-America as a disc jockey on three of their ships. But I digress.
From there, I was offered a position at a newly formed agency as creative director. I established a p.r. department there, too. We won more awards. Now I was copywriting, writing proposals, writing news releases, handling accounts and media budgeting. However, the owner had, shall we say, “financial issues,” and at one point all eight employees had one week before the money ran out.
3 weeks later, started an advertising and p.r. agency with the art director; we did okay, but the hours were long and writing all the copy, managing the accounts, handing media relations became very stressful. We had one account executive and when he got another job offer, I decided it was time for a break from advertising.
I shift back to public relations, this time full time, as an Information officer/PR Guy at a Behavioral Health organization. Great people, excellent experience, but in the 4 1/2 years I was there I started to feel I was in a rut. That led to joining a p.r. agency that specialized in nutraceuticals, supplements and food clients. More account management than writing, and I was traveling doing trade shows and events 12-15 days a month. Some people would have said I was job hopping back then (it was the 90s); Today, people would say, “what? You worked at the same place for how long?”
I was exhausted. My father had passed six years earlier; I was having to deal with assisted living, nursing home care, hospice for my mother long distance with all the traveling. When she passed, at this point I needed a real change.
And that also meant getting out of Florida. I wanted to see seasons. Both parents had passed; My (then) partner and I moved to Washington DC where I landed a position at a top notch ad agency as creative director. That went pretty well until 9/11. And some bad management on the part of the owner.
With this layoff, I then started another ad agency with the art director and account manager who had been at that agency. I wrote more copy. I managed clients again. We won more awards. The creative director was working on the side for the guy who we’d all been working for. Boom! We threw in the towel after 18 months.
Finally, moved to Asheville, NC, in 2005. I’ve been working as an independent ever since. And now have reinvented myself again.