Lessons Learned: A jack of media trades retraces steps from music critic to beer industry pro

Professionally, if not personally too, we all evolve with time. We pull bits and pieces of valuable experience out of everything we've done. It combines into our own personal brands in a way no one else can touch. 

I was reminded of this so vividly this week when I was was called to meet with friends and professional contacts at a major news outlet interested in gaining some insight regarding a craft beer project. Having worked with breweries and brewers since 2009 and covered that topic as a writer for even longer, I was happy to share my expertise. It occurred to me, though, that the same girl who at 17 couldn't imagine tasting a beer, and at 22 worked as a pop music writer, now in my 30s is identified as a beer industry pro. Yes my PR expertise has officially taken hold. 

If you can name the beer in this glass you may be meant to work as a food and beverage PR professional. There's more to it than that - but you get the idea.

If you can name the beer in this glass you may be meant to work as a food and beverage PR professional. There's more to it than that - but you get the idea.

That's the key to succeeding in any industry, though, isn't it: dive into your subject, learn as much as you can and master it. Live it. Breathe it. And you'll soon be counted on to share what you know. I'm glad I love the type of subjects that surround me. The hats I've worn since college are vary, and taught me so much:

City Reporter: From the police beat to extra long nights at city council and school board meetings to stressing over calculations on statewide standardized test scores, I cut my teeth on community news and features and mastered AP Style in a a newsroom where the presses ran nearby and always kept a notebook close at hand. Lesson Learned: Respect the deadline, write tight and check your sources. 

Pop Music Columnist: Late hours, smoky bars, guest lists and interviewing musicians from the very famous to the up-and-coming, this required a knowledge of all genres, and at the time, a growing stack of promo CDs. This job was combined with my work reviewing films, covering arts, culture, restaurants, fashion, beauty and often hard news, too. Lesson Learned: It's important to love what you do because we spend a lot of our lives at work. Often the best type of work or the most exciting jobs, require the most of us. Sometimes they offer little pay, mean more time away from family, or require supplemental income to make it possible (and that means even more work just to do what we love). As a rule, assuming any work, even those jobs that seem the most glamorous - could be a cakewalk is a mistake. How much you put into any job comes down to your personal work ethic.

Fashion Publicist: My first foray into the PR world meant all kinds of clients, from union workers and health professionals to major fashion events and designers. It involved organizing, promoting and executing events, keeping offbeat hours in high heels and setting up interviews for some very beautiful people. Lessons Learned: PR relies on relationships and a solid understanding of news value. The client-publicist relationship requires trust to achieve results.

Community Manager - Lifestyle Branding: Taking it all online and managing brands, advising and helping to drive web traffic by creating content and conversation, this foray into social media came early in its development. Lessons Learned: A former co-worker recently called me visionary for delving into social media at the time I did. Flattering to hear, it felt more like professional survival then. As much as protecting a clients' brand we maintain and expand our own professional reputations every day, too.

Of all the work stations I've had, the jobs have only become more and more portable.

Of all the work stations I've had, the jobs have only become more and more portable.

PR Account Manager - Food and Beverage PR: Combining writing, PR and social skills to work with clients in a creative capacity and mentor those newer to the profession, there's not a day that goes by that I am not thinking about something delicious, innovative or exciting. It's the only way to do PR, if you ask me. Lessons Learned: It's a 24-hour work cycle that won't stop unless you do, so we have to take breath and recharge in order to keep the pace and get the best results.  *I am still trying to master that one.

Behind the scenes filming in a cocktail bar for a TV shoot is just one of the more interesting aspects of the work I have done.

Behind the scenes filming in a cocktail bar for a TV shoot is just one of the more interesting aspects of the work I have done.

What valuable lessons are you learning from the work you do, whatever work that may be?