Melissa Major, digital marketing coordinator at Random House Children’s Books, swung by the ol’ blog to chat about working in both publishing and television industries and why Cookie Monster would make a great roommate in theory only.
Can you tell us a little about your professional background and what drew you to children’s media?
Since I graduated from the University of Maryland, my jobs have been in digital media and education. These included working as a media coordinator for PBS, a production assistant for WNET (the umbrella company of the PBS channels in the NYC area), a substitute teacher, and an independent tutor. Currently I am a digital marketing coordinator at Random House Children’s Books.
I think children’s media is the natural culmination of my main interests: media (digital and print), the fine arts, education, and psychology. Children’s media is an especially exciting industry to be in now, since there’s such a focus on transmedia storytelling. Kids can watch their favorite characters on TV, read about them in books, and play games with them on an iPad.
My favorite kind of children’s media is both relatable to kids and funny or meaningful to adults (Sesame Street parodies, I’m looking at you). Children’s media is just plain adorable and unbelievably creative. There’s also a certain level of nostalgia in it. I remember when I was a little girl–I’d stay up late reading with a flashlight until I was so tired that I’d fall asleep with the book on top of my face. Now I’m thrilled to work for a company that produces such a wonderful array of stories for children. It’s great to be a part of that mission, even though my role is very humble.
As someone relatively new to the industry, please share any tips on how to get that first job in children’s media.
Don’t underestimate the importance of internships, temporary jobs, and freelance gigs. Sometimes, a company may not be hiring staff, but will have short-term jobs open. Take advantage of these opportunities. Companies often turn to those who’ve made a good impression interning or freelancing when a permanent role does open up.
It’s also important to take your work seriously regardless of your title and to get to know people on your team. Volunteer to help coworkers on a project when they need it. People don’t forget others who lend a hand when they’re in a tight spot. I’m not implying that helping others should only be for selfish gain, but I believe in karma to an extent.
I’m preaching to the choir here, but I’d also highly recommend joining a professional organization such as the Children’s Media Association. I joined CMA on the recommendation of Corey Nascenzi, our Director of Events. Corey was kind enough to introduce me to her connection at Random House Children’s Books, which directly led to attaining my current position there.
In summary, actively create opportunities for yourself and capitalize on your network and resources.
You are currently a digital marketing coordinator at Random House Children’s Books. Can you tell us about your role there?
As the digital coordinator on the content development team, I assist producers with various projects. One of my main roles is to coordinate with the graphic design team to update randomhousekids.com with fresh content each month. I also help create graphics for e-newsletters and build landing pages for giveaways and popular books/series.
Prior to joining Random House, you worked in public television. What are some similarities and/or differences between these two industries?
The major difference between the two is that Random House is a corporation, while public television is in the non-profit sector. When I worked in public television, many of the projects were based on grants the organization was awarded to create very specific products. We typically aren’t working under grant money in publishing and are more driven by sales. I really love that there is an overlap between the two organizations. For example, Random House Children’s Books publishes The Cat in the Hat books, and PBS Kids airs the The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That–so we work closely on that property. Public television and Random House are similar in that they both strive to produce quality, engaging content for children across media platforms.
If you could live in any TV program, game, or book, what would it be?
I’d like to live on Sesame Street, but ideally all the Muppets would live there (not just the Sesame Street crew). I’d be roommates with Cookie Monster. Although come to think of it, he probably wouldn’t be the tidiest of roommates. And I’d always have to hide my cookies.
Complete this sentence: My media guilty pleasure is…
MTV’s Catfish. It’s so predictable, yet so addicting.
Remember friends, “If he doesn’t Skype, he’s not your type!”