Alumni in Action
Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Oswalt
Describe your current position.
I’m the Media Director at WTP Media/PMAX Dental, which involves managing all video production and social media ads produced in-house. Production starts by building relationships with clients and understanding both their brand story and company goals. While behind the scenes I operate as producer, on set I direct our team to capture a compelling story that was established in foundation meetings and planning sessions. After all content is captured, I oversee post-production and ensure clients are thrilled with our final deliverables. The final stage in the production process is pushing our created content in digital advertising spaces. We create digital ad placements for our clients to get their story the exposure they need for success.
To what extent does writing relate to your current position?/What type of writing/design do you do for work?
Building the relationship with a client is all about writing--even if it’s not on the page. The best thing I can do is ask good questions, because it shows that I’m interested, and it helps me gather the necessary information we need to achieve a client’s goals. From questions, I can map a plan that executes the core elements of a client’s mission. In the past, I’ve seen a lot of connections between the Hero’s Journey and a Brand Story, where the client is the Hero and writers work as facilitators of their journey. While a portion of that approach is helpful, I believe it is less about reaching a grand finale and more about building a relationship that will grow over time–a long form journey rather than a one-project-mission. So, I use what I’ve learned in writing to design the customer experience in this way--that from the moment they walk through our doors, sign a contract with us, have their first video shoot, see their first video, etc., clients know I’m not just a connection who can facilitate events but a co-character that can keep the story going.
Briefly describe your path from graduation at GVSU to your current position.
After graduating, I did freelance writing for a few months, but quickly found this work was not for me. I was constantly writing about content that did not interest me. A few months later, I started working as a Content Writer for WTP Media / PMAX Dental. Having some video production experience and knowing how to craft relationships, brainstorm content, weave story from conversation--all things I got to practice at GVSU whether I really understood it or not at the time--I began to have some influence over client video content, which soon developed into more of a story-specialist (media specialist) role, and eventually lead to me taking over and running our video production department.
What parts of the writing major had the strongest impact on you as a professional?
The analytical and ideation sides of writing I believe impact my current role the most. If I can understand the story the client thinks they’re telling, I can build a plan to actually get that story told and in front of people. Without having an understanding of story arcs, character development, stylized voice (you can’t talk to every client the same), I wouldn’t be able to achieve both a birds eye view and eye-to-eye view of what’s really going on with a client’s brand.
What advice would you offer to current/future writing majors at Grand Valley?
You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to hear the one thing someone wants people to remember. I hated content writing--it wasn’t the world traveler, exotic tea-sipper, always smiling instagram-photo journalist gig many would like. But writing is all-together more than putting words on paper (or screens). For me, writing is all about the story around the words, and maybe that will mean something for you, too.
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